Photo By: Glenn Carstens-Peters from Unsplash

Despite vaccination numbers going up and things starting to appear somewhat normal, COVID-19 remains a concern and may keep us tied to our computers this next year. Some courses at Brock are staying online or are being offered as ‘hybrid’ courses to continue combating the pandemic during the 2021-22 school year and offer students as much flexibility as possible. 

The good news is that we now have a year’s worth of experience and insight with online learning under our belt. Obviously, COVID-19 has made it less than ideal for many of us, but that hasn’t deterred students from finding ways to adapt and even thrive while learning online. 

“It’s a lot more self-regulation, that’s for sure — especially with asynchronous courses,” said Ethan Birch, a fourth-year creative writing student. “You have to have a cut-off and if you tell yourself that you will stop working at this time, especially with asynchronous courses, you are then spurred to actually do the course material.” 

Birch emphasized the importance of using visual aids, such as a marker board he used with due dates in big letters to work as a hard-to-ignore, physical reminder. Distancing from his bed when working, especially with lectures, helped him get into a proper mindset as well as having compatible people around him to preserve a sense of the university experience.

“I’m living with my best friend,” said Birch.  “We hang out and play video games, that would be my version of ‘going to a party.’”

When work starts to pile up, try dedicating an hour to plan out the following week. Write down a schedule that allows for some flexibility in case you under or overestimate a task’s length. Also, embedding breaks that contain incentives such as going on walks, seeing friends or putting time into hobbies in order to avoid burnout could prove to be a skeleton-key to staying motivated for extended periods of time. 

“I noticed there were a lot more weekly assignments than bigger things [with online learning],” said Aidan Boose, fourth-year sports management student and President of LIFT Church. “I figured out how to manage everything, I made it a week-by-week thing to really break it down. It’s what helped me keep on track with things.” 

Boose also came up with a clever strategy to maintain a sense of community and help others with self-regulation in the face of online-learning: creating a Discord server titled ‘Brock University Hangout,’ wherein students can mingle in various channels dedicated to things like studying, asking questions, or just general chatting to relax between study periods. 

“We would mute ourselves and talk every few minutes. It was nice to study with people while apart,” said Boose. 

Whether through his Discord server or his own personal connection to the church, being in the presence of other people who are going through the same experience allowed Boose to tackle the more isolating experiences of the previous school year.

The pandemic continues to be a burden on virtually all facets of our lives, even as things are looking up. Luckily, the students at Brock have braved a tough year-and-a-half and managed to make the best of the situation, relying on a strong sense of community and adapting to the changed structures of learning. 

The nature of this next year of university is still hard to be sure of. However, with these tips, now you should be prepared for anything.