bumbleprint, Author at Write Track Admissions
How to Stay Motivated as a Student: Checking in on Your Well-Being
Are you having trouble feeling motivated enough to finish out the school year? If so, you may need to examine your overall well-being. Here’s how to do a mid-semester wellness check-in:  

Wellness for Students

Wellness is not taught to students, so many times we feel like we are only surviving from semester to semester. Society’s constant need to work is causing ‘getting by’ day after day to become a dangerous norm. According to the BBC, overworking is actually killing people. It has become the largest occupational killer. Overworking causes a fight or flight response in the human nervous system.  We must stop these bad habits as students, to prevent ourselves from becoming victims to this socially acceptable way to die. Therefore, thriving must be our goal because surviving is no longer enough. As students, we must look at ourselves as whole beings and not just as work machines. A focus on wellness is the way to do this.  Understanding wellness also gets us away from the toxic side of self-love culture. It is a holistic approach that allows us to look inwardly and outwardly at ourselves. To get started on a wellness check-in there are four questions that I like to ask myself:
  1. How am I doing physically? 
  2. How am I doing socially?
  3. How am I doing emotionally? 
The answer to these questions will add up to give us an answer for how we are doing with our overall well-being. This may help in decerning what is the root of the motivation struggle.   

Physically

Physical wellness is ensuring that the best decisions are being made when it comes to taking care of our bodies. Most people choose one or two parts of their physical well-being to focus on and overlook the rest. Neglecting one of them will most likely harm the effects of another. Physical Wellness includes (but is not limited to): 
  • Nutrition
  • Physical activity 
  • Sleep
  • Skincare 
  • Haircare
  • Water intake 
  • Blue light screen time
 

Socially

UC Davis has a helpful guide to social wellness. Social wellness is cultivating meaningful relationships with proper boundaries and trust. As well as,  showing respect to everyone in your life. Social wellness includes (but is not limited to):
  • Proper Boundaries
  • Cultivating healthy relationships
  • Participating regularly in social interactions
  • Trying new activities
  • Meeting new people
  • Knowing and using your support system
 

Emotionally

How well we are able to handle feelings and emotions while adapting to changes and stresses in life is the core of emotional wellness according to the National Institutes of Health. College is a time of transitions and unknowns, so stress, anxiety, and depression are issues for college students. This is especially true after the pandemic. PBS News reported that 1 in 4 college students have considered suicide. Taking care of our emotional health is what we must do to continue living. Emotional Wellness includes (but is not limited to): 
  • Stress levels 
  • Happiness 
  • Coping with change
  • Acceptance of emotions
  • How you treat others 
  • The perspective you have of yourself
  • Managing difficult emotions
  • Having a purpose in life
  • Positive/negative self-talk
  • Gratitude 
  • Having a safe space to process
  • Getting professional help for mental illnesses
  In school, we will not be successful when these areas are off. If physical wellbeing is neglected then our brain has less capacity to process information. Our self-esteem plummets when our social lives are not healthily maintained. In addition, we will not have the necessary social skills to succeed in our professional life. Our emotional health can often be the foundation of our well-being, as unaddressed mental struggles can affect our functioning in life. So, as students, we need to check in with ourselves and make sure that we are wholistically doing well. If we are not, there are steps that we can take to get better. Stay on the lookout for more blogs discussing how to improve in each of these areas.     ~ Victorie Norman | WTA Communications Director
How to Have Great Senior Year in High School
Everyone wants their senior year in high school to be a magical picture.     *queue record playing nostalgic music*    A special time where you say goodbye to your school, friends, and essentially move into adulthood. Filled with final football games, school dances, getting into college with no problems, and senior pranks. Where senioritis hits at just the right time in the second semester and your teachers are kind enough to let it slide.    *Your record gets scratched with reality setting in*   However, this is usually a dream too good to be true. For many, senior year is a stressful time, filled with the unknowns of the future. Burnout plagues because seniors are trying to apply to colleges, keep up with their grades, take college-level classes, be involved in extracurriculars, and study for exams. This begs the question, can seniors have all of this responsibility and still enjoy their senior year?   The answer is yes!   
  1. Live in the here and now. 

First things first, throw that ridiculous fantasy of a movie like a senior year away. That’s overrated. Living in the moment in real life – whether it is stressful or happy is a wonderful tool to have. Remember, comparison (especially to an unrealistic dream) is the thief of joy  
  1. Think about what you want from your senior year in high school. 

Next, Write out goals. Break them up into two categories: Academic and Personal. This will help you stay on top of your schoolwork while also having some fun planned too.

 Some ideas for academic goals are: 

  • End senior year with _____ GPA 
  • Get to know a teacher that you admire better 
  • Join a new club 
  • Improve on your SAT/ACT score 
  • Try truly reading your textbooks 
  • Focus on a subject that you don’t like and try to find at least one positive about it. 
  • Tour 3 colleges that you are interested in
  • Consult a college admissions counselor 
 

Some Ideas of Personal Goals are: 

  • Find a mentor
  • Go to every home football game 
  • Go all out during spirit week 
  • Take a freshman under your wing
  • Have a Mental Health check-up 
  • Finally, ask your crush to homecoming/prom 
  • Find one self-care task, and do it at least once a week
  • Train two extra times a week for your sport 
  These are just some ideas, but make four or five goals for each of these categories and write them down. This will give you direction for the year.   
  1. Get ahead in every way possible. 

To reduce the stress that senior year may bring, try getting ahead in one area. If you have a ton of AP exams ~ have a consistent study plan going during the first semester. If you are stressed about college applications, start planning out what you will need for them right now. If you have a crush, try saying ‘hi’ to them right when you get back to school. If you want your Friday nights off for fun, see if you make a plan to get your work done before then. Getting ahead can allow a bit of senioritis to set in, without it turning into complete burnout.   
  1. Talk with Someone When You are Stressed 

There is a lot of pressure on your shoulders! It is okay to get overwhelmed; especially because you’re living through a global pandemic. Please do not try to keep it all to yourself and suffer alone. This will have negative effects on your mental and physical health (even if you can’t see it now, it will show up in the future). Find someone to talk to: a friend, parent, teacher, therapist, youth group leader, a coach, a mentor, etc… It makes all the difference to allow yourself to be supported.   
  1. Have Fun ~ It’s the only High School Senior Year You’ve Got

Finally, this is the only high school senior year that you will have. Build on your connections with the friends that you have. Go all out during Spirit week. Cheer as loud as you can at sporting events. Let the team that you are on become your family. Try to find a positive outlook as you go to class every day. Do something kind for a classmate. Be proud of all that you have accomplished.    Remember that your happiness should not be dependent on a test score, GPA, or even a college acceptance letter. Find it from within. If you can do this you will be ahead of a lot of adults in this world.    Have a wonderful school year!!!   ~ Victorie Norman | WTA Communications Director
Alternative Ways to Pay for College
College Debt is everyone’s nightmare. The excitement of admissions fades one students think about how they are going to pay for college. If this is you,  you’re far from alone. Even high earners believe that the cost of college is out of reach. In fact, the Institute for Higher Education Policy says that families with incomes above $100,000 a year don’t believe they can pay for upwards of 6 in 10 U.S. universities.
Even when students can afford to pay for college, they’re still likely to graduate with a mountain of debt:
  • The average student loan borrower leaves college today with $37,172 in student loans – more than twice the amount of 2005 grads
  • The average monthly student loan payment has jumped by more than $150 over roughly the same period
Scholarships & Alternative Means to Pay for College No problem, you say. There are tons of scholarship and work-study opportunities out there. You merely have to know where to look for the ones that work for you. And, to an extent, that’s true. The operative word, though, is tons. For instance, whole books have been written about the FAFSA, an often-confusing online form required to get need-based aid. Even when you think you’ve filled out everything correctly, each school uses the information how they choose.

Alternative Means Education Financing Companies.

Fortunately, there’s another – saner – way. Alternative Means Education Financing companies, such as NextGenVest, can save you time, money, and aggravation. You leverage technology and the hive mind of your peers, plus company experts, if needed, to find and take advantage of every break you can – before the decision-makers dive into your numbers. “The scholarship hunt can be daunting and overwhelming, but with organization and preparation, it’s possible. I applied to the Marshall, Rhodes, and Gates-Cambridge scholarships at one time and researched to make sure I was a good fit. This provided me with the financial means to pursue my dream by studying at one of the top universities in the world!” ~ Nadine Jawad, Rhodes Scholarship recipient and Director of College Admissions at Write Track Admissions Think out of the box, maximize your time to research all financing possibilities out there, and make sure to tap into the expertise that exists to get that life-changing and affordable degree in your hand!   ~ Abhijith Ravinutala | Write Track Director of Professional Services & Graduate Admissions Expert   Contact Write Track Admissions to out how you can fund your dream degree!
All Things LSAT- A Practical Guide on Preparing for the LSAT
Reading Time: 4 minutes   Are you confused about all things LSAT? Do you feel unprepared and overwhelmed? Well, you’re not alone and we want to help. The next LSAT test date is fast approaching, and here are some study tips to make sure that you are successfully preparing. Most law school applications open any time between the end of August to the beginning of October. With this in mind, it’s safe to say that it’s time to start preparing, and Write Track Admissions has some tips to help you out. 

When to take the LSAT

It is best to get the test-taking done ASAP, for peace of mind and for the optimal admissions decision. Also, the longer you hold off on taking your LSAT, the later you finish your application. Law school has rolling admissions, so if  you wait to apply to your top choices, your chances of admission will have diminished. Taking the LSAT early, allows you to retake it, so that you can improve your score with time to spare.  There are several more LSAT testing dates available in 2021. Be sure to keep track of when you need to register.   

Hacks to Help you Prepare

To prepare yourself for the harsh reality of standardized testing, here are some LSAT prep tips from Write Track’s founder, Hamada:
  • TAKE PRACTICE EXAMS: Note the common mistakes you make in each set of questions and keep practicing them until you feel confident. 
  • REAL EXAMPLES: Don’t use anything but REAL past exam questions (also known as LSAT Direct Questions), because once you see and understand the patterns in real questions, you will be able to master anything they give you.
  • TESTING CONDITIONS: Make sure to simulate real exam conditions and timing. For example, do three sections back-to-back with a minute break. Then, take a 15 mins break and do two sections back-to-back. Also, use the same pencil, timer, and chair you will use/find in the exam. If they don’t allow ear plugs then don’t use them in the practice exams.
 

The Digital LSAT

The digital LSAT is being universally administered electronically on Microsoft Surface Go tablets. They have been pre-loaded with LSAC patented software that features a timer with 5-minute warnings, and interactive options such as answer elimination, text highlighting, and question flagging (so you can revisit those tough ones later).  The digital LSAT is comprised of Logical Reasoning, Analytical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Writing Sections. 

Here are some hacks that can help during the LSAT:

  • Figure out the question type to help you narrow down the answers.
  • The digital LSAT test allows you to flag questions. Skip ones that take you a long time to answer, and come back to them questions later. 
  • Use the text highlighting feature to flag the root of each question. The question is often hidden amongst a lot of other extraneous information. 
  • Read all the answers before selecting one to help you identify potential test, tricks, and red herrings.
  • Practice for speed, because often the exam comes down to technique, practice, and timing.
  • If all else fails, just skip hard logical reasoning questions, then come back to it at them at end.
If you follow this methodology, you will already be ahead of the game. And if for some reason you don’t score where you want to, keep a cool head and try again! Write Track’s Founder, Hamada, took the LSAT 3 times and still did not do great. However, by using storycrafting he managed to get into Berkeley Law. It is important to stay strong in the face of adversity, even when that face is the LSAT staring you down.  A strong application can help balance out test score weaknesses!

LSAT Scoring

While on the subject of test scores, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page regarding how, exactly, the LSAT is scored. Your LSAT score is comprised of a raw total of the number of questions you answered correctly. There are then converted into a score in the range of 120-180. The average LSAT score is 150… but if you have your sights set on attending a top law school, your score should be in the “well above 160” range.    If you are not meeting your LSAT score goals, contact Write Track for help with rounding out your application. We will use your story to craft a winning application, ensuring that you have the best chance at getting admitted to your dream law school, just like our founder, Hamada.     Aly Hartman | Write Track Communication Officer Write Track Admissions  
Staying Competitive in COVID – How MBA students can keep up with jobs during COVID
Reading Time: 5 minutes     There is no doubt that COVID-19 has had a drastic impact on the job market. In fact, the Economic Policy Institute has already stated that the impact will continue to be most noticeable in the leisure and hospitality, social spending, manufacturing, and education and health services sectors, with the private sector taking the biggest hit.    As we face this general econ economic downturn, many will be faced with the J-O-B question – that is, how will they apply for a job like they had previously planned, and how will they stay competitive when doing so, in light of COVID-19?   According to the Economic Policy Institute, the first thing to note is the change in ongoing MBA programs. Business schools have moved to online instruction, shut down global and on-campus events, and taken a hiatus on MBA admissions events everywhere. This will likely set back future applicants, while also posing challenges to current MBA students as they struggle to capitalize on their education which has taken such a drastic change. It is also inevitable that alongside MBA admissions activities, the MBA job market, which was once overflowing with opportunities, will face a harsh downturn, as jobs in general are put on hold in favor of quarantine.    This does not mean the job hunt must come to a grinding halt for MBA students. Here are Write Track Admissions’ top things to do in quarantine to help you remain competitive in the job market:   

1. Be resourceful. There are still job opportunities that you may not think exist. Here are just some of the sectors that are actively hiring: The Government, Medical Device Companies, Essential Retailers (i.e. pharmacies, grocery stores), Delivery Service Providers, Online Health Services. There is also a comprehensive list of start-ups hiring And here are just some of the larger companies that are actively recruiting:

 

2. Ask for informational interviews via Zoom or Google Hangouts, or a different video/calling platform. Even if a company is not hiring, you can still get your name on their radar by conducting an informational interview from home. If you want to learn more about how to get your foot in the door, check out Write Track’s recent Linkedin Live on How to Stand Out and Get Hired in the Corona Economy!

 

3. Apply for funding. If you’re worried about continuing to fund your MBA career and subsequent job search period, apply for industry specific funds or lower-tier fellowships.

 

4. Take some time to sit back and plan. If you can enter into your job search with a clear path, it will set you out as having forethought and staying active while facing a challenge (aka a global pandemic).

 

5. Be innovative and entrepreneurial, and try to address a need that will likely continue well after this crisis. After all, these companies did just that in the last economic crisis and now many are helping us weather this current one:

  If you are still feeling unsure of how to navigate the MBA job market due to the effects of COVID-19, contact Write Track Admissions for help!   Aly Hartman,  Communications DirectorWrite Track Admissions
How to tackle the “Why” School Specific Essay For College and Graduate Programs
Reading Time: 3 minutes   Most schools, nowadays, will ask their applicants some form of the question “Why us?”. This supplement has gotten more and more famous over the years, and many schools are adopting it into their supplements. Before we get into how to tackle this kind of question, it’s important to understand why a specific school or program would ask this kind of question. Schools always accept more applicants than they can actually take on because not all applicants who are accepted decide to go: this ratio of admitted students and students who decide to attend is called a yield rate. Schools want to have the highest yield rate possible and want to ensure that the students they are accepting will attend, hence the “Why us?” question.    Tackling the “Why us?” the question seems like a daunting task, but it’s much easier when separated into a few subsets. Most responses to the “Why us?” question mention one of the following: Academics, Community, or Location. However, successful responses mention more than one of these three subsets and are sure to mention specific parts of the school at hand, whether that be specific professors, classes, cafes on campus, or anything between!    To help you get a better grasp at a successful “Why us?” response, let’s look at some example sentences or wordings that WORKED:  
  • “Although I was never able to visit X school, one of its faculty members made herself known to me”
  • “X’s cafe on Brooks street, while small and run down, serves as the perfect analogy to X school. While X school isn’t small and run down, much like the cafe, it serves as a homey place that brings students from all corners of the community”
  • “Outside of academics, X school’s student-life excites me. X school’s pan-Asian student group is well-known in my community for its strong bonds, its dance team, and … its food.”
  As you can see, these snippets are well-informed, show commitment to the schools they are discussing, are playful, and think beyond the surface-level. You, too, can do this! Remember, schools want you to attend; show them how much YOU want to attend, too!   Also check out our latest YouTube Video on Acing the “Why” School Specific Essay For College and Graduate Programs!   ~ Aly Hartman Write Track Admissions – Marketing Officer  

The Pros and Cons of Online Education
Read Time: 5 minutes   COVID-19 has raised many questions – especially for students. As learning institutions across the world shift to online education platforms, you may be wondering “Why aren’t all classes online?” Almost three million students attend their higher education classes online, and at least six million take one or more of their degree-required classes online at some point in their academic careers. They do so for various reasons – cost effectiveness and flexibility among the top proponents of what’s really drawing millions of students to pursue online degrees. And now, as students around the globe are gearing up to get a taste of online education due to the pandemic, we at Write Track Admissions have put together a list of the benefits and drawbacks of online education.     PRO: Cost Savings   Online schools tend to be cheaper, primarily due to the elimination of the cost of living on campus at a brick and mortar university. Though some online schools have higher per-unit costs, these are typically offset by the decrease in living costs.    CON: Lack of interaction    One of the most profound and understated benefits of attending face-to-face classes is the social development that goes alongside it. Learning with others helps you acquire key social skills (patience, compassion, adaptability, teamwork), develop or test out your emotional intelligence, and build a strong network that you will carry with you for the rest of your life.    PRO: Flexibility & Applicability   Taking an online class gives you control and flexibility – something that you likely won’t find much of at a traditional university. Students are able to plan your schooling around the rest of your day, giving you greater freedom to pursue your passions. Moreover you can listen, re-listen, engage with and learn both from a visual and an auditory perspective.    Online learning has also been known to better meet the needs of students with learning challenges including ADHD/ADD. First and foremost it removes the in-person classroom stigma and instead provides an environment that is more comfortable, thus promoting a more positive learning experience. It also eases coping with distractions or problematic social situations as students who are struggling can take a break and learn at their own pace with more sustained and repetitious exposure to the material.    CON: Lack of Learning Environment   The exceptions to the joys of flexibility are traditional schools that have simply moved their classes online. You still have to attend class during its designated time, albeit via video conference, which undoubtedly opens the door to a lack of focused learning environment. Some students need the structure and accountability of in-person classes to help them learn and thrive.    PRO: Improved Technical Skills   Teachers and students alike are forced to become best friends with their computers/electronic devices in order to properly attend online classes. Programs like Blackboard and Canvas are the Learning Management Systems (LMS) of choice and they have many great technical features to help you absorb, interact, and learn in ways you never thought possible before. These technical skills will serve you as you enter a workforce that is becoming increasingly reliant on technology. The more computer programs you are familiar with, the better!   CON: Technical Difficulties & Accessibility   Online learning will likely pose a host of technical difficulty as generational differences and incompatibility between Mac and PC operating systems collide, as well as the sheer number of low income students who simply do not have access to proper computers and reliable internet. Indeed, internet accessibility has posed a major concern for students who relied on brick and mortar institutions for that necessity.   If you are struggling with imposed shifts to online class due to COVID-19, or need help deciding whether or not to pursue your degree online, contact Write Track Admissions!   Aly Hartman,  Communications DirectorWrite Track Admissions  
Online vs. In-Person: Should you do an Online MBA (COVID), or just defer all together?
Reading Time: 5 minutes   There are two clear paths (below) that have emerged in light of COVID-19 for those planning to pursue their MBA for Fall 2020. Whatever path you choose, remember there are definitely advantages to entering an MBA program in 2020. Historically, recessions have seen an increase in higher education enrollment. This is largely due to students wanting to be prepared to re-enter the workforce as the economy opens back up again following a financial crisis such as the COVID-19 one (you can find out more about how to get ahead of the job market with an MBA from our recent blog post).    
  • Pursue the traditional, brick and mortar degree as scheduled, and run the risk of it being partially online due to the pandemic extending into the next school year
  The obvious factors here are cost and quality. Many students choose to study in a classroom rather than online to reap the benefits of engaging with diverse and accomplished colleagues, joining student clubs, building networks, and experiencing the campus environment of their chosen university. Applying to a brick and mortar program right now leaves you at risk of missing out on these benefits for at least part of the degree, as virus concerns are still running rampant and many programs have yet to decide whether or not they will extend their online curriculum into the next school year. However, it is important to note that many top universities like Harvard and NYU are currently facing petitions from their students asking for decreased tuition rates – and have yet to come to a decision on whether or not they will be offering their online classes for a decreased rate. Be sure you are keeping up to date with news surrounding this decision for your institutions of interest, as it could end up working in your favor financially.     
  • Defer for a year until the future of your program is more set in stone
  Deferring for a year will give you some much-needed clarity and certainty. Since virtually all campuses are closed indefinitely, there is no way to truly know where you will be at the start of the next school year. Taking a gap year before tackling your MBA might be best if you need the time to solidify aspects of your personal life – money, family, health, career, etc. It can also give you more time to perfect your application.    For those applying for Fall 2021, there is less worry that the pandemic will be disruptive to their academic careers. However, you never know what may happen and it may be worth looking into online MBA degrees. Pursuing your MBA online entirely is better for students’ pockets, as online degrees tend to be far less expensive. Furthermore, an online MBA offers more flexibility, which is desirable for some during these uncertain times.    At the end of the day, whichever path you take is up to you – do some soul searching and discover which option best meets your personal goals and needs. If you need some guidance on this matter, contact info@writetrackadmissions.com for help.    Aly Hartman Communications DirectorWrite Track Admissions  
What are your options and next steps if you have been denied by our top choice colleges?
Reading Time: 4 minutes   So, you’ve been denied to your top choice school, and you must be wondering: “what do I do now?”.  Let me break this down into three parts to better outline next steps in the process:
  1. Why did you get denied.
  2. What you can do better next time.
  3. What you can do TODAY!
 WHY YOU MAY HAVE BEEN DENIED**  
  1. Qualifications: Your SAT/ACT/SAT IIs were not competitive enough for that year OR your GPA was on the borderline.
  2. Application Materials: Your essays, resume, application questions etc. did not help you stand out as a unique/must-have candidate.
  3. Timing: You may have applied too late in the admissions season (for example I first applied to LSE in late January so I was denied by mid-Feb. The second time I applied was in October and was admitted with a scholarship less than a month later).
  4. Oversubscribed: The major you applied to was oversubscribed (many many people applied) so while you had a great application, when push came to shove you didn’t make it through the final cut.
 
WHAT YOU CAN DO BETTER NEXT TIME
 
  1. Re-take your Standardized Test: If you take a year out (like a gap year) then you can retake the SAT. Even if you do marginally better you still show the school that you are trying (FYI – I took the SAT three times, the LSAT three times and the GRE twice…in each case I represented to the school that I was so keen to gain admissions to their school that I bothered to do the exam again and again, but there is a point of overkill and after 3 times its not worth it anymore (aka diminishing returns)).
  2. College Credit Courses: If you want to take a year out (not do community college) then take some college credit courses and if you do well you can submit those to the schools and that may help (specifically if your GPA was on the lower side). 
  3. Get Admissions Guidance: I can’t tell you how many times I have worked with someone who was denied the year before because they applied on their own and were blind to so many issues that could have otherwise made their applications amazing. An admissions expert or at least someone very familiar with the admissions process and ready to give you their time, will help you find YOUR ideal story, make sure you properly surface your qualifications, and ensure you have a unique application to truly stand out. 
  4. Start EARLY!: I can’t emphasize this enough. Even if you are applying for programs that do not have rolling admissions, you need to give yourself plenty of time to prepare your application materials. And for those programs that do have rolling admissions then your chances of admissions when you apply early are 2–3 times greater then if you wait until the last minute. Moreover, the earlier you apply the higher the chances of admissions (I received a lot funding when I applied early to Cambridge and Harvard). 
  5. Diversify: Make sure you apply broadly to reach, attainable and safety schools so you can give yourself the highest chances of admissions. 
 
WHAT CAN YOU DO TODAY
 
  1. Feedback: Find out from some of the schools why you got rejected. Not all schools will give you candid feedback but some will and this will help you better understand what to do and improve.
  2. For College Applicants – Community College: If you are in the U.S. I would definitely advise applying and attending a local community college that can feed directly into the one or more of your ideal universities. Here is a great article on how to maximize the community college to university transition: Tips for Transferring from Community College (U.S. News). Additionally this will give you guidance on why Community College to University route: Should I go to community college and then transfer to a university?
  Hope this helps!   Read more helpful tips on our Quora account and stay tuned to other blogs on our Write Track Admissions Page.   ~ Hamada | Write Track Founder
6 Pro-Tips for Studying at Home – From an actual college student studying at home
Read Time: 5 minutes   As an overworked Junior in college, my first reaction to classes moving online was “YES! I get to lay in bed for class!” I quickly realized that this was not all positive, and that I would likely struggle a lot more outside of the classroom due to the lack of formal structure and the inherent disconnect that would come with online learning. However, after a few weeks of online classes, I have come up with a few tips that have helped me immensely:   

#1: ORGANIZE YOURSELF

A planner, a printable schedule template, or Google calendar are absolutely essential. For each class, identify what you need to do and when you’re going to do it. Creating a regular schedule for your coursework will allow you some sense of rhythm and normalcy. It will also ensure that you are on top of all the different learning modalities that are being used. Scheduling out your days ensures that you know when you need to be present for synchronous instruction, to attend online office hours, or do digital group work. All these still exist and matter, even if you’re partaking behind a computer screen.   

#2: STUDY SPACE (most of the time)

Research has shown that it’s easier to recall information if you’re in the same place where you first learned it, so it can be a good idea to create a dedicated work space at home. However, being that you are likely to be stuck at home, it’s important to get a little variety in the spaces you are spending large amounts of time in, less you develop cabin fever. In order to find what sort of space is going to work best for you, really do some thinking about how you functioned at school. Did you accomplish different tasks more easily in one environment than another? How can you best recreate that ideal working environment now? Here are a few quick tips to make at home studying more palatable: buy a comfortable work chair, make sure everything is ergonomically fitted (even if it’s DIY), and invest what you can in a solid internet connection!  

#3: TAKE NOTES

Online class! Great! That means I can sit back and just listen while I lay in bed! Wrong. Taking notes on recorded lectures, assigned videos, readings, podcasts, etc is essential to retaining the information. Implementing some formalized note taking strategy can also help bring a little structure to the out-of-classroom learning. You can even use a program like Microsoft One to take notes on different subjects in an organized fashion.  

#4: TAKE IT ONE TASK AT A TIME

Multitasking seems all well and great, but research has shown that when we multitask, especially in an academic setting, we end up being less productive, pay less attention, and recall less information. When we’re learning online, this is only amplified. Staying focused on one thing allows you to absorb more information and complete assignments more successfully. One well-proven system of accomplishing this is the Pomodoro Method, which postulates that you should focus in 25-40 minute periods with 10 minute breaks.   

#5: CONNECT WITH CLASSMATES

Your peers are in the same boat as you are, and are likely experiencing the same struggles as you. If you thrive off of the group environment of a classroom, connect with your classmates via Facebook group, WhatsApp, Slack, or another platform to share insights and support each other. And try as much as possible to leverage video conference platforms such as FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype or whatever to actually see, not just hear, your peers.   

#6:  COMMUNICATE WITH INSTRUCTORS

Be sure to ask questions and take advantage of opportunities to connect with your instructors through email, office hours, and class. Ask for help when you need it. Online courses can vary quite a bit. Some may rely largely on the discussion boards to further your learning while others make heavier use of group projects, individually-written papers or collaborative problem sets. Be sure to reach out using any of the methods your professor makes available, just as you would if you were in class. Also, Learning Management Systems (LMS) are being used all across the board during this time, so make sure you feel comfortable with the tools your professor is using whether it be Canvas, Blackboard or another LMS related software. This can help you truly make the most out of the class and the course materials.   While this list is by no means exhaustive, it should be able to give you a few pointers to assist you as you navigate studying from home.    If you still find yourself struggling, contact info@writetrackadmissions.com for help.    Aly Hartman, Santa Clara University ‘21 Communications DirectorWrite Track Admissions