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Advice for New College Students From a Recent GradCambria Pilger
A few weeks before fall classes were supposed to begin, I got disappointing news from my university in southern California — it was switching from a hybrid learning plan to being completely remote.
While I expected that this semester would be different in a lot of ways, learning that all my classes would be online was a tough blow. Managing online classes last spring after we were sent home was hard, and I didn’t look forward to navigating those challenges again.
Despite this news, I still decided to move back to San Diego and live in an apartment with three of my best college friends. I've been in online classes for two weeks now, and we definitely had to make some quick adjustments but I think we’re getting the hang of what it means to all be taking classes at the same time in a two-bedroom apartment!
Is your college student trying to balance off-campus life and remote learning? Here's some advice for surviving and thriving.
Before our first day of classes, my roommates and I decided to put our class schedules into Google Calendar, then share our individual calendars with each other.
Especially at the beginning this helped us know what times each person would be in a Zoom call and if multiple roommates would be in class at the same time. Since we’re four students in a two-bedroom apartment, this also helped us figure out who could be studying in what rooms at certain times of day, and when we should all be quiet to be respectful of each others’ schedules.
Since we’re together all day every day, I’ve already started to memorize my roommate’s schedules, but I’ve found that syncing our calendars is a super helpful way to be supportive of each other’s success by giving each other the space we need to focus.
My roommates and I have decided that twice a week, we'll alternate cooking dinner for everyone and all eat together. This is a fun way to take a break from our various screens and just enjoy being roommates! When it feels like we’re constantly surrounded by class, it’s important to also remember that we’re friends, too, and should spend time together and let go of the pressure of academics for even just an hour. Having one of your roommates cook for you is also a nice break from constantly having to cook for yourself. 🙂
My roommates and I have found that when we’re in class all day locked up in our apartment, it’s so refreshing to take breaks and get outside. Whether this is going on a run, a quick walk around our (sadly empty) campus, lounging by the pool or a sunset swim at the beach, getting a breath of fresh air helps keep me sane when during the day it feels like the only change is what Zoom lecture I’m watching in that hour.
Even if it’s just for a few minutes, it’s essential to let yourself relax and enjoy the outdoors. This seems obvious, but trust me, when you’re living in an apartment, it’s easy to forget to get outside during the day.
After being home for five months with my family and high school friends, coming back to school was more of an adjustment than I anticipated. I’ve found myself worried about my family staying healthy and wondering how my friends are dealing with remote learning at their campuses.
Even if it’s just a quick FaceTime or text with my friends or parents, this is such a great way to ease some of the stress that comes with living independently during a pandemic. Even though we’re all miles apart now, it’s nice to know that we’re all going through these transitions together. Your parents will be so thankful to hear from you, too!
Communication is key when it comes to living in tight quarters with friends. Whether it’s assignments that are stressing me out, needing a break from studying, what time I need to get up in the morning, wanting to be alone, or just wanting a quick laugh, it’s so important to communicate these things to my roommates!
Especially while we’re all still adjusting to living together, it’s impossible to know what’s on each other’s minds at all moments. As long as you remember to talk to and listen to each other, you can work out your wants and needs. It’s easy to think that your roommates won’t understand, but remember that you’re all going through the challenges of online learning together. Whether it’s you and your roommates or other students nationwide also trying to navigate remote classes, you’re not alone!
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