Student Life

5 Tips to Prepare for Back to School Online

So this year’s back to school prep is a little different than usual. Instead of that first day of school outfit, we’re deciding which virtual background to use. Instead of finding classrooms, we’re picking the right spot in our homes to do our work. We’re preparing to get back into the groove of things and settle in to learning about the future careers that excite us. And yea, that last one is really important! We want you to still be excited about learning, so let’s talk about the ways you can best prepare for this online experience.

1. Prep your workspace

Creating that separation from school time and down time starts with having that designated workspace. Usually that separation between school and home was highlighted by your commute to campus, but now we’re commuting to desks or tables in our homes. The upside to this is you can make it exactly what you want it to be. Personalize it and organize it how you please, but most importantly try to make sure it’s not in bed. If you’ve got a spot you like and is separated from where you spend your down time, it’ll help with your productivity. Plus, there may be times when you join video calls so it helps to be prepared for that.

Our quick fix suggestion: try some free wall art or a printable calendar

Printable calendars

Free wall art

2. Do some digital decluttering

Once you’ve set up your physical workspace, there’s also your digital workspace to consider. Just like when your desk is cluttered with stuff, it can be equally as overwhelming when your computer screen is full of chaos. If you’ve got lots of files that are unorganized, try to sort them into folders and make space for the new stuff you’ll receive from your courses. Also, remember to Marie Kondo your computer and delete any files you don’t need because running out of space on your computer just leads to unnecessary stress. Trust us. We’ve been there way too many times…

Reminder: there may be software or programs you need for your program. Your prof will let you know and Seneca My Apps is there to give you access. And if you find there are certain web pages (like your Seneca email or discussion groups on Blackboard) that you're using frequently, just go ahead and bookmark those for easy access.

3. Headphones and a mic

Whether you need to tune in to a class or tune out from distractions around you, headphones are pretty important for online learning. Your classes may be delivered asynchronously (video tutorials/lectures you watch) or synchronously (scheduled lectures you attend at a specific time), but either way you’ll need to listen in. And being able to just put your headphones on and focus on something always helps with productivity. There may also be times when you need to participate in class and having a microphone helps everyone hear you properly. Your computer, tablet, or phone has a built-in mic, but one that is attached to a set of earphones/headphones will help improve the quality.

4. Get up. Stretch. Repeat.

If you ever found yourself feeling sluggish or sleepy in the classroom, that’s still going to happen at home. It’s also easier to accidentally sit in one spot all day and forget to move around enough. If your workspace doesn’t have the best ergonomics, aka you find yourself slouching a lot or getting wrist/neck/shoulder pain, it’s even more important to move around. Your body will thank you and your eyes and brain will enjoy the break!

5. It's okay to not be okay

Whether it’s from the weight of the world or just adjusting to the different learning experience. This year hasn’t been easy and it can feel like a lot to handle. Staying motivated and focused on your school work is even harder when you’re not feeling okay, so reach out if you need help. If you need someone to talk to. If you feel overwhelmed or alone. Your mental health matters and should be a priority.

If you have more questions or concerns about getting ready for the online semester, Seneca has lots of resources to help you out! Don't hesitate to reach out for guidance and we'll be happy to help!