Schwierking: Having a successful semester


Columnist Sam Schwierking offers a few tips on how to be successful during an online semester. 

Samuel Schwierking

With the spread COVID-19 at full force, Iowa State has elected to steer toward mainly online classes. This is going to create a challenging semester where students are going to have to adjust their learning techniques and different methods of staying on task while locking themselves in apartments and dorms. 

How can you stay on track during this time? How can you make sure you are maintaining your mental health? How can you ensure you are academically successful during a time where study groups and in-person lectures are limited? I am going to enlighten you with the best tips and tricks in order to stay on top of school work. 

Treat school work like a job

Classes are no doubt going to be more flexible this semester. With a smaller amount of designated meeting times to focus on a subject, ensuring you complete homework each day before participating in extracurriculars is going to be crucial.

It is also going to be paramount to book slots in your day to work on each class as well. To do so, I would recommend getting into a routine that allows you to make sure each class is going to get as much focus as if school was normal. The lack of in-person instruction is going to make it more difficult to not want to sleep in later or do assignments last minute.

I know when I am in a typical class routine, working in between classes or meals is straightforward and not burdensome to my day. You are going to have a considerable amount of outside classwork this semester, so making sure that you find designated work time is going to be pertinent.

Even though I stress staying on top of your school work and treating it like a job, it is important to still take breaks. Even in the workplace you get to take breaks. Actually, it is heavily encouraged. It isn’t healthy — mentally or physically — to work for multiple hours without standing up, moving or taking a break. Make sure at least once an hour you either do a couple jumping jacks or walk around the block so you can be more efficient in your work.

The importance of a study space

Social distancing and wearing a face mask is going to be a number one priority on campus. With that being said, most study spots are going to be unavailable because of the masses of people needing to study and work outside of class. This, coupled with the inability to have many people inside of buildings, is going to make finding study spots tough. So, the importance of finding a new, safe study space is going to be crucial to your success in this post-COVID-19 school format. 

This place should obviously be quiet and a place where you can eliminate distractions. Not only does finding this new place allow you to get out of your room and study in a quiet area, but it also allows your brain to get in routine.

Say you get up in the morning and you go to study for three hours in your newfound study space. Your brain is going to get into the routine of working for that three hours in that specific spot every single day. It’s no different than showing up to class in the morning and listening to your calculus professor talk about integrals and derivatives.

Use your resources

This should go without being said, but use your assets the university offers you. Since COVID-19 hit in the middle of March, Iowa State has been inventing new and innovative ways to allow you to get the help you need. If you are writing a paper, make an appointment at the Writing and Media Center.

If you need help with a class, get a tutor or go to supplemental instruction through the Academic Success Center. If you need emotional support because you are far away from your family or having a hard time making friends, use the Student Council Services that are provided. Iowa State has put everything you need to be successful at your fingertips.

Now go out there and take it!