Well, the time has come. After a more or less relaxing summer, it is time to go back to school. If you are a freshman, this year is going to be very different from what you might have expected. If you are a senior or super senior wrapping up your last year in college, chances are that you are going to want to put your head down and just finish the school year strong. Remote learning, however, has changed what many students imagine their school year to look like, bringing challenges that may complicate their attitude towards classes and school in general. If your university is allowing students back on campus, this may still apply to you. Keep reading for tips on how to stay motivated during a new era of online learning. 

Get to Know the Online Learning Platform

Whatever your college or university uses, get used to it. Every platform is different, so take some time to dig around, becoming familiar with where new assignments will be listed, how to turn in assignments, where course information is posted, where course readings are posted, where lectures are posted, etc. Research this beforehand so when the time comes to start school, you will be able to hit the ground running and will be a little less overwhelmed.  

Create A Schedule

The absence of a traditional classroom has created some leniency that could be a blessing for many students, and a curse for many others. Some students need the structure of attending classes throughout the day while others simply thrive off of making their schedule. For the students that felt a loss of motivation in the absence of a structured school schedule, don’t give up yet. 

Create your own schedule and hold yourself to it. If you need to, set a schedule that includes the moment you need to wake up to the time you need to log into your coursework to get work done to the moment you can be done for the day. Of course, don’t forget to set breaks throughout the day so you can re-energize. Set reminders on your phone of due dates for homework assignments or when the next online exam is due. College is known for being a time of independence, so there is no better time to learn how to create a daily, weekly, and monthly schedule that outlines all of your responsibilities so you can stay ahead of the curve. 

Set Realistic Goals

Setting goals is not only part of being a student, but it is a part of being a person in the working world. Setting big, audacious goals are great if you know you can reach them, or if they inspire you to keep reaching for the top. However, you risk disappointment if you are unable to reach these goals, and this can directly affect your motivation. Instead, set smaller, realistic goals that you know you will be able to achieve through hard work and perseverance. When setting these goals, whether it be completing a paper a couple of days early so you have enough time to read through it or studying more than usual so you can ace the next exam, focus on strengthening your time management skills, which directly ties into creating a schedule.

Stay Connected

Because you are no longer seeing other students, or your teachers for that matter, in-person, it is imperative that you establish a strong line of communication between you and your peers digitally. Any university that is currently operating through online courses is likely encouraging students to communicate with faculty, providing you several ways to do so. Whether it be through email, discussion board, chat room office hours, or even text messaging, strong communication is important for student success. 

Just because classes are no longer in person doesn’t mean you are by yourself. Reach out to your teachers if you feel as if you are struggling with the transition to online classes. It is highly likely that your teachers will work with you if you are having difficulty staying motivated with the transition to remote learning. Furthermore, it is a great idea to communicate with other students in your online class. You can share notes, collaborate on assignments, and have other people that you can share your struggles with, because they may be feeling the same as you. 

Ask For Help

Open communication helps you develop a rapport with teachers, paving the way if you have questions down the line. As touched on above, don’t be afraid to ask for help — faculty and staff want to help you succeed. Your school may have also compiled a list of resources for students to utilize in the transition to online learning, which may include connections to counselors. During this time, it is also important to stay in contact with your academic advisor, who may also have advice and guidance on staying motivated with your online classes. 

Sit Somewhere That Isn’t Your Bed

This can be hard, especially if you have a laptop you can just pull onto your bed as soon as you wake up. This habit, however, can have huge effects on your productivity and motivation. So, get out of bed. Just do it. Doing your classes while tucked under layers of blankets will just make your body and mind think it’s time to relax, and that you’ll inevitably end up doing. Sit at a desk or a kitchen table, even a couch, and complete homework assignments there. If you have zoom lectures, do your best to watch them live, which will help you stay up to speed with class content. 

Get Up and Get Dressed

Building off of the above point, it is good to start your day by getting dressed. This creates some sort of normalcy, but it also creates a routine, which our brains love. You can still dress comfortably, but again, it’s about helping yourself stay motivated, so try not to keep the pajamas you wore during bedtime. 

Try Not to Procrastinate 

This is much easier said than done, and if you talk to any college student, even high school student, they will tell you that procrastination sometimes helps them create some of their best work. While it is true that pressure can help some students buckle down and get to work, it’s also a great way to let assignments pile up. Procrastination could lead to less participation in course discussions and lectures, which could lead to lower grades. Everything being online is awesome, but it also means that you may experience technical difficulties. Imagine losing internet connection minutes before you were about to turn in an assignment. Give yourself time, and allow for the possibility of something to go wrong.  

Remember You’re Not Alone

This is a weird time for everyone, and you are not alone in feeling what you are feeling. Many students are being met with the same obstacles you are and are likely feeling just as overwhelmed. There are plenty of resources out there, and people who want to help you succeed. Talk to friends and family if you feel discouraged by the transition to online classes, and remember to give yourself a pat on the back whenever you can. No one knows when the uncertainty will end, and when things will return to “normal,” whatever that may mean. For now, take advantage of the fact that you no longer have to get ready for class.