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4 Mar 2021

Students Reveal Their Best Advice for Starting College During a Pandemic

In partnership with:  taylors-college-logo

The drastic change from physical learning to online classes can feel disorienting. Before, you had friends and teachers around you to encourage and support you. Now, you can only interact with them through a screen.

For many students, this is new territory — but all is not lost. While you may be anxious about starting college in the midst of a pandemic, there’s no need to put your education plans on hold.

As some of the first people graduating from “Zoom University”, these students from Taylor’s College reveal some of their best advice on how to survive (and thrive!) in college during this pandemic.

#1. Get rid of distractions

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Attending online classes may seem simpler (and comfier!) on the surface, but many students struggle to maintain the same level of focus as they would in a physical classroom. Distractions are aplenty, whether it’s your mother asking you what you want to have for lunch or the commotion your younger siblings are causing right in the middle of class.

To have a productive online learning session, it’s crucial to remove all distractions.

When I attend class, I’ll stay in my room. I’ll be far away from my other family members so they wouldn’t keep talking to me during class.  Kimanda Wang, Foundation in Arts

Put your phone away. Everytime you feel tempted to check your phone, you will have to walk quite a bit to get there. It’s like a tiny barrier. — Ng Yi Wen, Foundation in Science

#2. Be an active participant in class

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Even if you’ve removed yourself from physical distractions, online learning makes it all too easy for you to open a new tab and watch a video on YouTube. In fact, a study by Kent State University showed that online students had a greater tendency to multitask by sending text messages, surfing social media sites and listening to music. This results in poor academic performance.

Our seasoned students tell us that this is a big no-no and recommends being an active participant during class.

I try to interact with the lecturers more […] to keep myself awake so it doesn’t feel like a one-sided thing. Ng Yi Wen, Foundation in Science

I try my best to take notes. That makes me pay attention well in class. — Kimanda Wang, Foundation in Arts

#3. Find something that works for you

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There’s no one way to succeed in college. Just because you have the focus of a cat doesn’t mean all hope is lost. It’s all about finding what works for you. If you’re struggling to keep up with your workload and subject material, rethink your approach and experiment with different strategies and tricks to find one that’s effective.

Our students all recall having to come up with different ways to ensure a productive learning session.

I actually found a way — the Pomodoro method. It’s a time management method. For 15 minutes of your time, you focus on doing work. After that, you get 10 minutes of break for you to do your own thing. Because of this […] I can get my work done faster and more efficiently because I know I’ll have breaks for myself. Ng Yi Wen, Foundation in Science

It’s a funny thing but I have this fidget spinner and I would just play with it. I guess it helps a bit. — Kimanda Wang, Foundation in Arts

If there’s anything that I didn’t quite get, I would revise it regularly. — Phillip Chin, Foundation in Business

#4. Get enough rest

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Sure, you don’t have to worry about the morning commute and getting to class on time with online classes. But that doesn’t mean you can sleep anytime you want.

As college students, you may feel tempted to stay up until the wee hours of the morning. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Even for online classes, getting enough rest is important.

Sitting there for one hour facing the screen, you just get very tired. And that’s just for one class. There are many, many classes in a day. So throughout the day, you can feel very exhausted. It was a big change for me. Ng Yi Wen, Foundation in Science

Having a good [sleep] schedule is very important. I used to skip the applicable classes because I slept late the day before. So I think having enough rest is important. — Phillip Chin, Foundation in Business

#5. Allocate some “me time”

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The combination of being stuck at home and having multiple classes in a day — all through a screen — can easily lead to burnouts. If you don’t take time to separate your study life from your personal life, you can feel overwhelmed very quickly.

As such, taking time to reward and indulge yourself is crucial.

Back then, I used to do work all the time. There’s no entertainment. So I end up feeling very drained. Now, I counter that by watching 1 hour of TV every day. So every day I wake up, I feel very refreshed. Ng Yi Wen, Foundation in Science

#6. Create your own support system

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College can be overwhelming and stressful. As you rush to meet assignment deadlines, work through group projects and navigate the fresh challenges of online learning, know that you’re not alone and that there’s nothing wrong with needing a little help. After all, it’s everyone’s first time and the best way to go through it is together.

Our students reveal how friends play an important part in supporting their journey.

Sometimes, we have 8am classes but sometimes we oversleep and one of us will call each other. We have a group chat with all my friends where we keep each other updated on deadlines and quizzes. Kimanda Wang, Foundation in Arts

With online lessons, the schedule is not really consistent. We might not know what time and day the lecture is until we check our Moodle*. Sometimes, my friends check it before me and they’ll be like, “Hey, there’s class tomorrow.” If I don’t see my friend in class, I would give her a call. Ng Yi Wen, Foundation in Science

*Moodle is an online learning management system where teachers and students can store and access course materials (e.g. notes) and course activities (e.g. discussion forums, quizzes, assignment submissions).

There you have it — wise words from those who have been there before. These tips should help you start college on the right note, even in the midst of a pandemic. And if you want an even smoother transition to a university degree, a Foundation programme is a great choice.

Why study Foundation at Taylor’s College

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