For students: Sound advice for a productive 2021-22 school year

The COVID-19 pandemic of the last year and a half has changed so much about the world as we know it – likely leaving some changes as a permanent mark on our culture and society. While many of us are still wondering if we’ll ever find a “new normal,” we’re still preparing to move forward with life in the best and safest ways possible.

This is especially true for current and prospective students. For most, the fall semester will begin soon. But how do you navigate life as a student in the middle of an ever-changing global pandemic? Here are tips to help get you started.

Stay informed
Keep up to date with requirements, mandates, and guidelines from your school, your state, and community, and from the CDC. Find out the current situation in your area and any steps your school is taking to reduce the spread of the virus.

Most schools in the Claremont area are returning to in-person instruction, with some adopting a limited capacity on campus and/or a hybrid model of online learning and face-to-face courses. Many will be requiring (or at least strongly encouraging) vaccination for their students, in addition to masking in indoor, high-trafficked areas on campus. These standards vary depending on the institution.

For example, Claremont McKenna College is planning a full return to campus, with vaccination required for all except for those with documented, legal exemptions. They ask students to wear face coverings indoors in common areas regardless of vaccination status. Those who are unvaccinated will be routinely tested twice a week. They will also facilitate health monitoring and implement quarantine and isolation protocols for those who become sick.

Scripps College is taking a similar approach but currently has limited occupancy for the summer and is working to solidify its specific system for the fall semester, with more details to come soon for students. Claremont Graduate University is implementing a phased return to campus, with some classes continuing fully remotely or with a hybrid approach of both online and in-person learning.

It’s important to note that things can change because of the pandemic and the Delta variant. Staying informed is always an ongoing process.

Establish a routine and a study space
One of the best ways to stay on top of your schoolwork is to make space for it – both in your schedule and in your place of residence.

First, make sure to plan adequate, and even extra, time in your schedule for studying for each of your classes. Look ahead at the syllabus for each course and put assignments and their due dates in a planner, calendar, or app on your phone. Balance coursework carefully with your other responsibilities.

Especially if you’re learning online, you need to build structure into your routine. It takes self-discipline to maintain consistency in your studying. Resist the temptation to multi-task, as this is not as efficient or productive as single-tasking. Also, avoid the temptation to procrastinate. Get your highest priority work done first before moving on to lower-priority activities.

Set up a clean, organized, and distraction-free learning environment where you can study every day. While you may want to switch it up occasionally by visiting the library or a different room within your home, it’s good to have a home base study area you can always return to.

Be engaged in the learning process
If you want to get as much as you can out of your learning experience, our advice is pretty simple: participate. Rather than viewing learning as a passive process, turn it into an active process. This can be difficult to do if you’re feeling isolated from remote learning, masking, or social distancing. So it may take extra effort. But actively participating will show your teachers you care. And you’ll likely get more out of the learning experience, too.

Coping with stress
With the rigors of education piled on top of a pandemic, it’s essential to find healthy ways to cope with stress. Physical health habits can go a long way to combat this, such as adequate sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Getting outside can also help to recharge your batteries. Find time to laugh and have fun, too, as this can also help reduce anxiety.

Assess your social media use or any other addictive habits. Decide if these activities help or hurt you mentally, emotionally, and even physically. If you think they may be hurtful to some extent, find ways to cut back on or eliminate these from your life. Sometimes, managing stress and self-care takes discipline. Be patient with yourself, others, and changes that occur.

Stay connected
Another important way to manage your stress is to stay connected. In a time of social distancing, many of us are left feeling isolated and socially deprived. As frustrating as this is, there are ways to maintain connections with others, even during a pandemic.

Regularly touch base with your professors, whether you have questions about what you’re learning or just to check in with friends for social interaction. FaceTime with an old friend. Chat with neighbors outside and from a distance. Do fun things with your household, too, to help relieve stress and build relationships. If you feel it would benefit you, join a virtual support group for emotional comfort and encouragement.

We may still be physically distancing in certain situations for the moment, but that doesn’t mean we have to be completely deprived of social interaction and learning opportunities. Stay informed, establish a routine, participate, cope with stress, and maintain connections with others. These tips can help you achieve a successful academic year and educational experience – even in the middle of a pandemic.

About the author: Tiffany Park
Tiffany is an education and health writer for, with a passion for improving educational experiences for herself and others. Having studied communications and early childhood education, she loves sharing ideas to help students, parents, and families thrive. She enjoys learning new things, seeing different perspectives, and seeking fun adventures with her husband and toddling daughter.


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