Individual leaning back on couch with wired headphones and laptop in foreground

How to Better Cope With Remote Learning

As the pandemic carries on, so does the struggle with learning at home. These expert tips will help if you're feeling down about remote learning.

This has been an academic year like no other—and when high schools and colleges shifted abruptly to remote learning, students reacted in a variety of ways. As with any change, the new educational approach was a source of stress for many. While some students thrived, enjoying fewer classroom distractions and less social anxiety, others missed the in-person interactions and struggled to focus. Fortunately, there are a range of strategies that can help for those who continue to find distance learning a challenge. Here are some suggestions for further adapting, staying on track with schoolwork, and managing the college application process.

Be honest with yourself

Being upset about the disruption in the past year is perfectly normal. Notice these reactions, accept them, and learn healthy ways to manage your feelings. As Laura Almas, counselor and social worker at Barnstable Intermediate School, says, “Take it easy on yourself! As each of us is navigating a new normal, it’s certain there will be bumps, blocks, and restarts as we learn to live safe, productive, and healthy lives again. Take this opportunity to learn from your mistakes and grow flexible in your thinking.” 

Dan Levine, president and founder of Engaging Minds Boston Learning and Tutoring Center, also notes, “Students aren’t alone if they are feeling isolated or stressed during COVID-19. To help mitigate those feelings, we urge students to get outside and/or exercise and to engage meaningfully with others when they can. Exercise has been proven to reduce fatigue, improve focus and concentration, improve sleep, and enhance overall cognitive function—all of which leads to reduced stress. The key is making sure to proactively schedule that time into your calendar. Taking care of your mind and body are just as important as any other homework assignment.”

Related: The Importance of Mental Health in a COVID-19 World

Connect with others

Remote learning tends to be more isolating than in-person classes, and Levine notes that “connecting with others, even from a distance, helps us feel less isolated.” Marci Schwartz, LCSW, PhD, of Thrive College Counseling says, “Setting up virtual lunch gatherings with classmates and friends can be something students can look forward to and help maintain motivation and engagement.” Dr. Sherry Skyler Kelly, clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist from West Hartford, Connecticut, suggests, “Try to request breakout rooms and group projects in remote learning so you have time to interface with classmates. Set up weekly check-in times or mini-conferences with your teacher and/or school counselor.” Alexander Morris-Wood, Director of Transition Services and Outreach at Beacon College, offers similar advice for those who work with students: “Social isolation is a common feeling many students are experiencing. First, we need to normalize these emotional experiences by providing more opportunities during the day to check in with students, affording them opportunities to process through their experiences. Perhaps by normalizing these feelings, students may feel more connected with their peers and recognize opportunities to connect, even if it is digitally.”

Establish structure

Typical school days are quite structured, and many students flounder with too much unscheduled time. “When creating a schedule and a plan, we urge students to work backwards from the due date and break the assignment (or application or essay) down into smaller, more manageable pieces over a period of time,” says Levine of Engaging Minds. “This helps eliminate the rush to finish the night before it’s due and also allows students to produce higher quality work.” As Morris-Wood observes, “When looking at schoolwork, remote learning can be challenging as the support structure has now changed. Making problem-solving charts with contingency plans can be a great way to ensure students are getting their needs met while developing practical college readiness skills.”

Related: COVID-19 College Life: Climbing Uphill in 2020

Get organized with college applications

If you’re applying to college during these uncertain times, developing a systematic approach to the college search and application process can make all the difference. Morris-Wood recommends identifying the steps involved in pursuing a goal as “sequence out a plan, prioritize aspects of the process, and identify where support is needed in order to meet deadlines.” Almas of Barnstable Intermediate advises students to “schedule a ‘flex block’ each day. Think about the times in your day that aren’t scheduled with school, work, sports, or chores. Which time are you most productive? For example, if you’re an early riser but have no obligations until 8:00 am, then block off each morning 6:30–7:30 as time in which you can get ahead (or catch up) with schoolwork or college applications.” Schwartz of Thrive College Counseling adds, “Managing school work at the same time as completing college applications can be very challenging for students. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose motivation. Connecting with friends to talk about how they’re moving through this process is often helpful to students.” She also notes the importance of “seeking support for building organizational and self-advocacy skills during this college application process."

Related: The Essential Step-By-Step Guide to College Applications

Savor your successes—and notice what helps you recharge

There are many decisions involved in schoolwork, such as selecting the topic for a paper or deciding which assignment to tackle first. Give yourself credit each time you make decisions and get things done. As Almas says, “In an uncertain time full of setbacks and disappointments, it’s important to celebrate the little things.” Sunshine and time in nature have proven therapeutic benefits, and Almas urges students to “go outside. Fresh air is always good! Notice and revel in nature.” When it comes to coping with this huge life shift, trying your best (even if it looks different than your prior “best”), appreciating your progress, and making time for yourself are the most important things.

For important coronavirus updates and other practical advice, please see our COVID-19 student resources page. The CollegeXpress community is cheering for you every step of this difficult time!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:
college academics coronavirus COVID-19 high school academics mental health remote learning

About Eric Endlich, PhD

Eric Endlich, PhD

Eric Endlich, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and the founder of Top College Consultants®, serving students and families worldwide. Dr. Endlich has taught psychology courses at Suffolk UniversityTufts UniversityBoston College, and UMass Boston. He is a longtime writer and advisor for Oakstone Publishing, a clinical advisory board member for the Asperger/Autism Network, and a Learning Differences/Neurodiversity Committee member with the Independent Educational Consultants Association. Dr. Endlich presents nationally on autism, learning differences, and college admission and is quoted regularly by media such as ForbesBusiness InsiderThe Hechinger Report, and U.S. News & World Report.

 

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Maliha

Maliha

High School Class of 2019

My college search began at CollegeXpress. Due to this helpful tool, I was able to gather a lot of information to guide my college planning decisions. Through CollegeXpress, I was also able to apply to several scholarships to help pay for my tuition. I would definitely recommend this website to anyone who wants to explore colleges and get more information from admission experts, counselors, and real students.

Maya Ingraham

Maya Ingraham

October 2021 Mini Scholarship Winner, Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has given me more confidence in my college process. With easy-to-access resources and guidance such as the CX Weekly Roundup, I have been able to find the best colleges for me. Most importantly, there’s a surplus of scholarship opportunities for every student to support their education.

Victoria Fuss

Victoria Fuss

March Madness Scholarship Winner, Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has helped me dramatically. Moving on to the next level has been a dream of my mine since I was just a young kid, and the support and help CollegeXpress has given me will help me further my education. I couldn’t be more grateful to everyone at CollegeXpress!

Lorena Bacallao

Lorena Bacallao

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress was the foundation of my college search process. Because of CollegeXpress, I was able to make a more informed and confident decision as to where it was best to pursue my higher education. I have recommended this website to fellow peers and for first-generation students like me. It’s a website I will continue to promote because of how simple it was to use and how many opportunities were offered to me at my fingertips!

Heather McCarty

Heather McCarty

High School Class of 2020

CollegeXpress has helped me with the college application process. The tips and tricks for important essays were so helpful. I also gained useful knowledge about college life. Even though I’m fully online, CollegeXpress has helped me develop a sense of how college is in person. The experiences from college students that were featured on their Instagram page have shown the good, the bad, and the “secret” life on campus from a reliable perspective. Not to mention, they relieved my feelings of anxiety about the workload. I can now understand how it can be stressful, but it takes self-control and willpower to get assignments completed on time and with quality.

College Matches