Tips for a successful 2020 fall semester

Hi everyone, happy fall semester!

I believe we can all agree no one thought this is how the world was going to be in 2020, right? I started the year really excited about my plan of going back to school. I went through the application process, approval… then all of a sudden the ongoing spring semester had to switch into full online classes all over the country. I had strong hopes that we were going to do things right at the very beginning and by now live in a world past COVID-19. Well, things didn’t happen like that and here we are.

I’m happy to be a new student at The George Washington University! I was looking forward to going back to classes and have the opportunity to network with other students and faculty. To hear that the 2020 Fall semester was going to be online only was a disappointment but honestly expected and understandable.

After the school’s decision of having an online semester I started thinking of what I could do to still make this semester a great one!

  1. Remain engaged

It is important to participate and contribute with class discussions by sharing your thoughts and asking questions. Remember that even though classes are virtual, it is still a great place to network and connect with friends.

2. Get familiar with organization tools

There are so many ways to get organized. Whether you prefer paper planners or digital tools such as Google Drive and Trello is important to find what best fits your needs. It works for me to write my deadlines on a paper planner but I also like creating cards on Trello -where I can set up the due dates and visualize them all in one place-. As for working collaboratively, I’m used to Google Drive and find it very practical. There’s really no right or wrong here and it may be that just like myself, you find benefit in using different tools for different things.

3. Have a consistent study schedule

Make sure you are sticking with a consistent schedule so you get use to the study routine. It is easy to procrastinate when classes are online because there’s a false sense of unlimited time to get things done. If you also work part time or full time, there is no time to waste! Decide what routine works best for you and follow it so you are never behind on your lectures and readings.

4. Have a designated study area

A great way to stay focused is to create a space that is only for your studies. That area does not have to be big or perfect, you just have to associate that part of your home as your class set up. By having a designated study area, it makes it easy to get into the “study bubble” and be more productive.

5. Keep in touch with your professors

Always check the blackboard for classes and course updates, that will be most likely the best point of contact with your professors besides their email. If you haven’t yet, I definitely recommend you add your school email to your phone so you can also get updates and notifications from there.

Here’s a picture of my study area:

These are only some of the things I thought about, but I’m sure there’s a lot more that we can do to have a successful semester online. If you have any other thoughts that are a helpful resource, please share them on the comments!