9 Things to Know When Attending College in 2021

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Whether you are a freshman or a continuing college student, attending college in 2021 will still have a different setup due to the ongoing pandemic. While vaccines are generally promising, the academic setup next year is still full of uncertainties. 

Some academic institutions have already announced the possibility of face-to-face classes, but online classes are more likely to stay. So, if you are still pursuing a college degree in 2021 and you are anxious about what the learning environment would be like, below are some things that can serve as your primer.

Online Education Is the New Normal

Whether you like it or not, you have to know that online learning is now the new normal. In fact, many professionals get ITIL certified through online learning nowadays. Although vaccines are quite promising, most institutions still advise schools and businesses to practice COVID-19 precautionary measures such as social distancing and wearing of masks. 

With social distancing in place, schools can only accommodate a handful of students per class if they prefer face-to-face lessons. This is not very economical because schools can barely keep up with operational expenses with just a few students on campus. Aside from that, it still puts teachers and students at risk of getting infected. 

Due to those main reasons, online education is more likely going to be the main mode of learning from 2021 onwards. As an incoming college student, you may want to slowly accept this fact and make adjustments for online classes.

You Need New Kinds of School Supplies

Before COVID-19, school supplies usually mean papers, pens, notebooks, sharpeners, and backpacks. However, since classes are mostly done online, there’s no need to stack up on this stuff. Online learning requires a different set of tools, and while you still need some paper, what you really need are the following:

  • Stable Internet Connection

Since the majority of meetings and modules will be given online, a stable Internet connection is a necessity. This way, you can attend online classes without experiencing delays. Having a strong internet connection also makes it easier for you to download learning resources at any time.

  • Reliable Digital Devices

You don’t actually need to spend a lot to purchase a new gadget. If you have a laptop or PC, you can still use that as long as it is still working. If you think your current gadget needs an upgrade, check your budget if you can purchase a better device for online learning. 

Some students can still attend classes with just a smartphone or tablet. However, it may be difficult to answer online tests if you are just using a mobile device. A laptop or PC is much more preferable, especially for tests and long exams.

  • A Comfortable Study Area At Home

Look for a well-lit and quiet spot at home where you can study and attend classes without nuisance. Make sure to keep your desk organized to make it more conducive for studying. If possible, choose an area in your home that is well-lit and ventilated so you would feel comfortable and alert in keeping up with your lessons.

Male professor wearing protective face mask while holding a lecture to a group of university students.

You Still Need to Stock up on Essentials

Even though classes are conducted online, it does not mean that you are not going to be required to visit the campus sometime during the semester. There would be times that a professor might require you to turn over a written assignment or project on campus. Therefore, you should still stock up on essentials like alcohol, sanitizers, masks, and face shields. These essentials help protect yourself and other people whenever you need to visit the campus or pass by public places. 

Consider Buying Noise-Canceling Headphones

If you want to make the most out of your online learning experience, make sure to use noise-canceling headphones to drown out any noise from your home. This helps improve your mental focus, especially if you are studying for a major exam. So, if you don’t have noise-canceling headphones yet, you might want to consider buying one before classes officially start.

Prepare for Backup Power

Power outages are rather unpredictable, and in some areas, electricity would not return until after a few hours. Since online learning relies heavily on digital devices such as laptops and tablets, you must prepare for backup sources of power if you don’t want to miss your classes. 

Make sure your devices are fully charged every day. If you have a power bank, make sure it is charged up so it can be used as a backup power source in case of emergencies. A multi-port USB charger may also come in handy if you need to study someplace else. 

Familiarize Yourself With New Learning Systems

Learning management systems can help you organize all of your course materials into a centralized location. You don’t have to spend money on physical textbooks and hard copies of manuals, all these can be uploaded on one platform online.

Most professors would just deliver their lessons in a learning management tool that they prefer to use. The best thing about these tools is that they have reporting and tracking features to gauge your proficiency. Contents such as audio, texts, and videos can also be shared on the platform, making them much easier to find and access.

You Have the Chance to Explore More Options and Opportunities

While you are still adjusting to the new normal, it’s fine to just take up a few subjects if you think you cannot handle a full load. You may also take this opportunity to explore other minors that you may have a particular interest in. If you are still not sure about which degree to take, then it’s best to just start slow with a few units and reassess which path would you like to take after the semester.

You Need Some Time off From Digital Devices

Times have changed and many people are always glued on their phones for the most part of the day. This can be a problem once you start attending college and you don’t have the discipline to stop browsing Social Media while classes are ongoing.

Browsing Social Media, memes, and watching funny videos on the side will not help you focus on your lessons. Lessen your usage as much as possible before classes even start. You have to be disciplined and focused if you want to finish college successfully. 

If you are having a difficult time, reach out to friends or classmates, and form a support and accountability group that can help control your digital habits. Taking time off from social media and digital use is also good for your overall health. So, practice digital detoxing as early as now.

Know How to Manage Stress Effectively

Balancing your college classes, especially in an online learning setup, is hard. Being cooped up at home for long periods of time is also not great for your mental health. Knowing how to manage your stress levels is a skill that you should try to learn by now.

To manage stress levels, you must strike a balance between study and play. Even though movements and gatherings are restricted, this does not mean that you cannot find other ways to unwind and have fun. 

You can always find an exciting thing to do at home. You can try gardening, reading a new book, watching a new movie or TV show, or playing a new game. If you are raring to socialize, you can also organize a virtual catch-up with friends!

Once you learn how to manage your stress well, you can avoid getting burnt out. If you are well-rested and recharged, you will most likely perform better in class! However, if you feel like nothing is working for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional for help.

Tips to Be Successful in Your Online College Classes in 2021

Since online learning is the new normal, it can be tough to cope or adjust to everything. However, this does not mean that you should just take your education for granted. Instead, you must take on the challenge and try to perform well in your online classes. Below are some tips for success:

  • Learn To Create Your Own Schedule

While you’re at home, you have to learn how to manage your time wisely as you may get easily distracted. Keep in mind that online learning is far from the traditional way of learning because you’ll be surrounded by distractions at home (such as your bed and the television). The best solution to avoid such distractions is to create your own schedule and set up a corner in your home that will be purely dedicated to academics.

If possible, take note of all your activities or classes and organize them based on your priority. With a schedule, it’s also helpful to monitor your school work and remind yourself about deadlines. Establish a study schedule so you can cover all your lessons before a major exam.

  • Know Your Learning Style

Your school performance would improve a lot if you know what your learning style is. Are you an auditory learner or a visual learner? By knowing your learning style, you can make a study plan that works best for you. Aside from that, you can choose which resource material is more effective for you.

  • Submit Your Work On Time

Staying at home can give you all the reasons to procrastinate. But do remember that even if all your classes are done online, your activities will be graded in the same way your professors would in face-to-face classes. So, put an effort in your classes and never forget to comply with deadlines!

It’s not easy to stay productive with the new norm in college education. It can be hard to keep studying or do assignments on time when you’re at home and your favorite series is already available on Netflix. A lot of distractions may hinder you to be productive. However, if you don’t want to waste your time and money, do yourself a favor and maximize your productivity by creating a schedule and submitting classwork on time.

  • Aim For Perfect Attendance In Your Classes

Even though classes are done online, many professors still check attendance the traditional way. Students who attend classes regularly show the kind of work ethic that would set them up for success. 

So, no matter what your course is, always aim for perfect attendance when attending college in 2021. It may not help increase your grades, but diligently attending classes will help keep your focus and motivation throughout the semester.

  • Stay Away Or Get Rid Of Any Distractions

When you’re surrounded by a lot of distractions, it’s difficult to focus. For instance, seeing your phone could bring you the urge to check your social media accounts every now and then. With that said, keep your mobile devices away during classes to avoid distractions.

  • Keep In Touch

Don’t be shy to join online discussions with your academic community. Through this, you’ll feel connected with your teachers and peers even if you’re miles apart. You may also have an online forum with your friends where you could share your resources and thoughts.

  • Stay Healthy

Now, this is the most important thing, especially amidst the pandemic. You cannot focus or attend online classes if you are not a healthy student. So, make sure to keep your health a priority. Take precautionary measures and avoid large crowds as much as possible. 

Aside from that, don’t forget to always eat right and sleep well. Wash your hands and drink enough water. If you’re going to the campus, bring bottled water with you, and a packed lunch if needed. Don’t forget to incorporate a few exercises in your daily schedule too!

  • Don’t Forget To Have Fun

Many people associate college with parties and fraternities or sororities. However, things are going to be different with the pandemic still going on. Despite that, there’s no stopping you from meeting new friends and creating new bonds. 

Even though you cannot go outside anymore, you can always meet and talk with new people from your class and exchange insights while attending your online classes. Online gatherings and parties are also a thing! If your school initiates one, do not hesitate to join in.

Bottom Line

If you are attending college for the first time in 2021, it’s normal to feel frustrated especially if you haven’t tried online classes before. However, you must keep in mind that while the method of learning has changed, the core objectives and academic requirements remain the same. Therefore, it is still important to focus on your lessons and consistently study for exams to pass your subjects. 

Regardless of your learning style, study hard and prioritize your classes even if it’s tempting to just sleep all day or ditch classes just to binge-watch shows on TV. If you want to get your dream job in the future, you have to exert effort and adjust to the new normal. This is now part of your responsibility as a college student in this era.

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