Going back to school was a major life decision for me but this was something that I had always wanted to do. Getting my bachelor’s degree isn’t only a wish, but a necessity to get ahead in most fields in the United States when you come from nothing. In this post, I go into my own personal achievements, as well as the steps that I take to succeed in an online learning environment (Which are totally applicable to in-person learning too!).
My personal achievements and education background:
Over the past year as a student at EWU, I have really grown into my own and feel far more confident in my abilities to connect with others, collaborate, and ask for help! I made the Dean’s List for my second time (the summer quarter doesn’t count, unfortunately) and have maintained a solid GPA of 3.7-3.8 since Spring 2021! I am so proud of myself for the hard work and dedication I have put in with Eastern Washington University and I look forward to starting the winter quarter next week!
As a remote student, finding a good in-state university that is accommodating (for students with disabilities, low-income students, and who are LGBTQ+) was a big challenge for me, but when I came across Eastern I just fell in love with it. For the first time, I felt welcomed and accepted for who I was, not what I was.
I’ve always loved school, but being disabled has made attending classes in person a real challenge, and being immunocompromised means that I can’t be around sick people without a serious risk of illness. When it came to Covid-19, many schools had to adapt to online learning but they didn’t have the processes in place to really help students in the process. Or the schools that were online utilized proctored testing services, overpriced fees, and webinars and ebooks to teach. There was little, if any, support for people like me.
The online program with Eastern was different and has actually been structured well. While each professor has a different teaching method and style, they all are easy to access from a smartphone, tablet, or computer! Most of my classes have been without any lectures, but I have had at least one with a daily zoom lecture that required participation. This participation actually did lead to a better grade and allowed me to chat with other students and share notes.
I can’t speak on the 100 level courses aside from ASL, which has mainly used video modules and weekly chats with other students and quizzes. ( I transferred from a community college and if you’re interested I’ll write more on this later and what I would have done differently.)
Eastern has really allowed me to communicate with my professors, join clubs (PRSSA), and feel like I’m a part of the college experience all while being fully online and away from campus.
What it’s actually like being a remote student and handling virtual learning:
I will be the first to admit that learning how to learn, in a virtual environment, requires having a good grasp on the best ways you learn, the communities that you require to learn, and the environments that make you successful in gaining knowledge.
Some people learn best with others, with a teacher guiding them and instructing them, with intimate conversations. Others prefer books and video lectures. Online learning is extremely independent and not very intimate. It can be really lonely, and you have to be self-disciplined.
Online learning doesn’t really allow that intimate community you get from in-person opportunities unless you facilitate that. You have to reach out to classmates, to your professor, to anyone that you want to connect with, and make that step because they won’t. In-person classes, you can be introverted or a social butterfly and still develop friendships without sending messages or emails. It’s harder to build a connection online, but it is possible!
Building Quality Study Habits for 2022:
Set a daily schedule for yourself.
Whatever that looks like, or is, you need to dedicate at least 1-3 hours a day to educational work (with 2-3 days off).
How you structure your day is completely up to you, but for me, I find working from 11AM-3PM or 4PM with a break or two is best for my own health and schedule. Sometimes I do work at night, or early in the morning, but mid-day is actually my favorite.
Create an educational map.
“But What IS an educational map, Marina?“
Educational Maps help you outline your goals and can be broken down into weekly, monthly, or quarterly structures! Just write down your motivation, your goal (intended outcome), the steps it’ll take to get there, and your reasoning or purpose for achieving your goal. By setting yourself up in this way outside of saying “I want to pass my class”, you can actually see how it’s achievable!
I’ve been using this method for a little over a year now and it really has made achieving my goals that much easier. I’ve actually been able to take on more projects, including the Queer Esports mentorship program. (Sign up for their Spring 2022 cohort here: https://www.queeresports.org/mentorship)
Here’s an image of my own template. If you’d like a copy (PDF), you can download one through my Etsy! (Link Here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/1139489060/educational-map-goal-setting-digital?ref=listing_published_alert)
Defining your motivation and purpose really does make a difference because it can tap into the reward center of your brain. Yeah, passing your classes is cool; but now what?
Ask yourself: How can I utilize my knowledge? My skills now? Hopefully, with the educational map, you can really dive in to your own personal reasoning for the courses you’re taking!
This would have helped me immensely when I started school in 2017, but I didn’t even have the knowledge at the time that this strategy could be useful! Needless to say, I struggled a lot on defining goals, figuring out plans, and wound up taking the really hard route of self-discovery through community college and university.
Hopefully, with this, you can avoid all of that (and save money long term so you aren’t picking useless courses that won’t benefit you long term)!
Be kind to yourself and don’t procrastinate.
This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but as a person who struggles with perfectionism, I wasn’t always the kindest to myself. I viewed a flaw in a grade as a failure in myself, and that affected me. Learning to be kind means accepting that even if you fail, you can still try again and that your path isn’t over just because you’ve had one setback.
It also means learning to ask for help when you need it. From working with a tutor to creating a group study meetup through Zoom, Discord, or Microsoft teams. It also means informing your professors when you’re struggling, when something happens, and not waiting until the last minute.
Procrastination might seem like an easy answer, and you might even get away with it for a while, but you won’t be learning to your full potential, or engaging with that educational community which could very well help you reach your next goals in life post-graduation.
Finding the education style that works best for you can take some serious planning and time. But if you’re an online student like me, then welcome! I’m here to help. If you like this post and want to see more like it, be sure to sign up for my RSS feed and leave a comment or share with your community!
Until next time friends,