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Reconciling the realities of college classes with life at home

As the last week of March began to wind down, signaling the end of spring break and the return of online assignments for classes, I was caught in an awkward position: I had four exams, two of which related to chemistry lecture and lab classes, scheduled for the week following the break. 

Normally, by this time, I would have been preparing to return to Oxford and reviewing material I had studied prior to the break to ready myself for these major tests. 

Yet, by Friday night of that week, I had still not even begun to study for my chemistry, biology or microbiology courses. Although I internally stressed over the encroaching perils to my grades, I couldn’t motivate myself to properly study. 

This was a dilemma I had predicted would confront me in our new pandemic setting and one which I had dreaded.

In the time of the novel coronavirus, with everyone being forced to stay within their own homes, it’s all too easy to lose touch with the academic-oriented lives we lead on campus. In the past, the times we return home are ones where we are supposed to be free of the assignments, projects and exams we encounter during a typical week. 

The responsibilities of dealing with courses and other aspects of campus life are reserved for the routines and lives we carve out at Miami. Meanwhile, the lives we lead at home are separate, focused around entertainment, friends, jobs and various other things unrelated to college. 

In a sense, many students, myself included, have created two different realities for ourselves: one dedicated to college life and the other set aside for when we visit home. This perception of home as separate from school has been creating issues for me these past few weeks. 

As soon as I returned home following the shuttering of in-person classes and lectures, I was tempted to simply ignore schoolwork. After all, I was at home, so the change in location should have meant a change in lifestyle. But in this case, the classes never stopped, and there was still plenty of work being sent out to members of our courses online. 

The divide between my life at school and home had been erased, and it was no longer easy for me to separate when I was supposed to be doing schoolwork from when I should allow myself to stream shows or play games. It’s easy to see how the latter option was more tempting to follow most of the time and seriously threatened my ability to submit assignments on time and prepare for tests. 

This was how I found myself at the end of  spring break, preparing to cram studying for multiple exams into two days and wishing I had been able to concentrate and force myself to start earlier. I began to question how a student like me could deal with this new environment and learn to adapt in order to remain academically successful. This introspection led to a pretty simple but effective solution: create two separate places within the home and different times each day for work and play. 

If you set aside a place in your home for yourself to complete assignments and study, you can avoid the distractions and temptations that will pull you away from the tasks at hand. By choosing specific hours to work, you close yourself off to the false notion that you have an endless amount of time available for academic responsibilities. 

Working within specific time periods can also encourage you to use those hours to contact tutors or instructors through services such as WebEx that you might not choose to otherwise due to the aforementioned perception of “infinite time” for school-related tasks. 

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So, by doing these few simple things repeatedly, you can create two “new” separate mindsets for yourself which will allow you to remain engaged with Miami while away from Miami.

wassern@miamioh.edu 

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