By Marissa Greene
Seven tips from an Academic Coach to get you through this semester
COVID-19 has changed the way we work, grocery shop, learn, and overall living. In a time of social distancing, students need to work on their education behind a screen rather than a classroom setting. For some, this may be a piece of cake, but for many others, this could feel frustrating, stressful, and even discouraging at times. ACCENT sat down with Austin Community College Academic Coach, Thomas Blain, to get some insight on how students can successfully adjust during this Pandemic.
Set Up a Consistent Location.
Look around your place and try to find the best work from home space. Whether that is working at a desk, a space in your room, or a counter in your home, this should be the place you can feel most productive in. If you live with family or roommates try to find a place that is the least distracting from others. If you have children at home, depending on their age, this may be something to coordinate with them or others in the home. Children could be working at the dining table while you are in the living room or vice versa.
Sitting While Working.
Who knew something as small as your position could play such a big role in your school performance? Although it may be tempting to lay on the couch or in your bed while doing school work, it may not be the most productive. ACC academic coach, Thomas Blain, recommends sitting upright while doing classwork.
“If I was to lie down while I was I work, I think I’d fall asleep,” Blain said
Sitting upright can help concentration while keeping you in the balance between feeling too cozy and too uncomfortable.
Confining Your Space.
Look at your workspace and what do you see? Are there papers filled with notes all over the place? Do you have pens, pencils, and your calculator scattered around you? If so, this tip is for you. Take a step back from where you are working and look at it. Is there a way you can confine or organize this space? The answer is yes! By keeping your place tidy you will be able to find your school work/supplies much easier and save you the time you would be looking for that one notes page you need and more time on using it. If you ever have seen the movie “Ratatouille” think of what Colette said to Remy in the kitchen “Keep your station clear!”
As we get closer and closer to semester final exams, you may be feeling overwhelmed and/or unprepared. A helpful way to keep yourself ahead of the game is to create visual reminders of important dates or when specific classwork is due such as quizzes, tests, and exams. These visual reminders could be physical, digital, or a mixture of both.
“When I am at my desk I have a semester calendar in the back which just has some important dates,” Blain said.
By being prepared for summer registration, FAFSA applications, and final exams, you start to feel more in control of your academics. Reminders such as sticky notes, Google Calendar notifications, or even looking at your ACC Planner every day can help better plan for what’s to come and more importantly be prepared.
Blocking the Noise.
Whether your distractions are the noises from your family members, your roommates who are also working from home, or the elephants that just moved in the apartment above you, find a way to minimize distracting noise. One way Blain recommends is by listening to music or something that can cancel out whatever noise is distracting you.
“I like listening to KUT sometimes because that is not as distracting for me,” Blain said.
However, if you find yourself spending more time belting your heart out to “Material Girl” by Madonna or “The Anthem” by Good Charlotte rather than memorizing all the organelles in a cell earplugs may be better for you. Blain recommends purchasing some earplugs at your local grocery store if possible to help those who work better in a space free from all noises.
Removing the Distractions You Can Control.
It’s okay to admit that scrolling through your Instagram feed is more interesting than the 20 pages of book reading you have to do, but which one is more important? Removing distractions such as your phone from your workspace can help improve your productivity. This could be physically placing your phone across the room, turning it off, or even just flipping it face down. If the distractions are on your computer, Blain recommends removing tabs or browsers from your computer while working. This could look like opening two different windows on your device and dedicating one to work and the other to your personal interests.
Sticking to a Routine.
Whether it was the routine you had at the beginning of the semester or one that better fits your lifestyle now, finding a routine and sticking to it is a major factor in your academics.
“Once you get a routine it kind of helps you with the procrastination piece,” Blain said.
Routines can help create order and discipline in your learning environment. Your daily routine can look very different compared to your classmate but it is so important to find something that works for you. A method that Blain discusses is the 45/15 minute studying rule. With this method, you would ideally study for 45 minutes and give yourself a 15-minute break in-between.
“If you do hour upon hour of work you are going to get burnt out,” Blain said.
Taking breaks can be equally important as the time you are dedicating to work. This allows you to feel refreshed and recharge. During your breaks find ways to disconnect from your studies. This could be scrolling through TikTok, going for a walk, or even taking a moment to make something to eat.
“Be realistic about what your habits are and give yourself that time to relax,” Blain said.
Don’t feel that you have a working space?
It is important to understand that this can be a stressful time for a multitude of reasons. If you are feeling discouraged about creating an effective workspace form home Blain suggests the idea of having a conversation with whoever you are living with about the importance of your studies.
“Have a diplomatic conversation with whoever you are living with,” Blain said.
Although it may not look like you are still taking classes to whomever you are living with, a conversation may help address any distractions you face while trying to study and work towards a solution.