The transition to remote learning in universities throughout the country came swiftly and without warning, and many of us are still trying to figure out how best to navigate the turmoil. As a PhD student, I have seen how this shift has affected learning from the point of view of both a student and a teaching assistant. As a result, I have learned a few invaluable things that have helped me adjust to remote learning, and I share them here in the hopes that they help you too.
Most importantly, you are not alone. Your classmates, TAs, and professors are facing many of the same challenges you are. Reach out to them! Because you may no longer see your classmates in class or around campus, it may take more initiative to find a group with similar academic and extracurricular interests. Despite this hurdle, I urge you to connect with other students since they are also feeling isolated and are struggling on their own; make use of the social and professional platforms we now have at our fingertips.
One of the best ways of making it through a difficult class is putting in the extra effort to communicate with your classmates and work together. Aside from your classmates, the value of your TAs cannot be understated; they want to help you and they want you to do well in class! Never hesitate to ask questions and, don’t be intimidated – many of them graduated within the last few years. Just as your TAs want to see you excel, your advisors want to see you succeed. I made it through a huge public university; I know how easy it is to lose sight of your interests and goals for a career when focusing on the minutia required by coursework. When this does happen, one of the best resources you can turn to is your advisor. Not only can they help keep you on track to finish all the courses you need in four, short years, but they can also provide important insight in helping you understand and progress through the application process for internships between school years and jobs after graduation.
Finally, take some time for yourself. No matter how much you work, it can still somehow feel like there’s so much left to do, and at a certain point your marginal productivity diminishes. Take advantage of your efficient working hours by working hard, and make use of your unproductive hours by doing something for yourself. For each person this can be different, whether it means taking a walk outside, going for a bike ride, or reading a nice book. How you choose to spend this time is up to you, as long as you invest in yourself. Working toward a degree is a marathon, and taking care of yourself – especially during this pandemic – is essential in making it to and beyond graduation. I hope that with this brief advice, you learn to reach out to your classmates, ask your advisors and TAs for help, and care for yourself. And with that, I wish you all good luck!