I am currently in my fifth (and hopefully final) year of being a university student. I never expected to see such an unprecedented amount of societal change during my last year at UT, and the COVID-19 pandemic has definitely proven itself to be no joke.
Regardless of what you are studying or where you may be, so much of our lives as students has been changed because of the pandemic. Students and instructors both have had to suddenly adjust their environments to ones that were entirely online, which has added a lot of stress to all of our lives. Class times have changed, and the dynamic of the classroom has shifted entirely, putting a lot of stress on students and instructors alike who can only communicate online.
With a new environment entirely online, I have had to learn how to cope with the sudden change in dynamic of my classes. For instance, I find myself getting distracted quite often during lectures that I am taking from my laptop, but the convenience of online classes has really helped me with my organizational skills, and I am still able to finish major assignments. The most stressful part of an entirely online-based curriculum is that it can be rather easy to overlook smaller assignments, so setting reminders or alerts for myself has really been useful.
The most important thing I have learned from the past year of online learning has been how crucial it is to prioritize my mental health. Taking care of my mental health and myself more during quarantine has allowed me to stay on top of my day-to-day tasks, so make sure you are checking in with yourself and taking breaks.
One of the other most crucial parts of life that I have made sure not to overlook is my social life with my friends. Fortunately there are a plethora of messaging applications like Discord and Skype that have allowed me to keep in touch with my friends via video calls and messaging. Finding ways to communicate comfortably with those that you may not be able to see because of the pandemic can be a great mental health refresher.
Regardless of the current situation you may be in as a student, it is evident that our lives have significantly changed as students over the past year. Finding things that can keep you balanced during a daily schedule of online learning is important. I have found that focusing more on my mental health and how I am feeling, I am able to organize my thoughts more and accomplish what I need to do. Be gentle with yourself during this time.
Elijah Hunt is a senior majoring in journalism. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.