The June Virtual Session of the Vancouver Summer Program (VSP) 2022 is less than two months away! We are dedicating this blogpost to the students who are participating in our June Session (and anyone, really) from the comfort of their homes. Online classes are convenient because there is no need to travel long distances to get to class; however, it can also be very draining and less motivating when you are not physically attending lectures alongside a group of peers. And, Zoom fatigue is real!

At VSP, we want to see you succeed academically, socially, and mentally—even when you cannot be with us on campus. Here are five tips we have to help you make the most of your online classes:

Tip #1: Designate a Workspace

For some of us, our study and relaxing space have to be merged with classes being online. Because our environments can impact us significantly, this can make it very challenging to divide the times needed to focus vs unwind. Hence, if possible, set up a conducive workspace in your house where you can solely focus on attending your lectures, working on assignments, and studying. Keep it distraction-free and only use that space when you are spending time on academics. The goal is to physically separate your workspace from other areas. This way, your body and mind can adapt accordingly.  

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Tip #2: Set Up a Game Plan

Completing online courses is a slow and steady marathon. Implementing a game plan can help you be successful. What would your schedule look like in your one month at VSP? How much time are you dedicating to completing your readings? How about your assignments? What time are you going to start on them? What time do you aim to be done by? Setting up a completion time is as important as setting up a time to start. If planning a timetable is something you find useful, it is time to get organized! Finding a well-balanced routine for yourself can be extremely beneficial academically, socially, and mentally!  

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Tip #3: Actively Engage and Participate in Class Discussions

Pedagogy and teaching styles varies by school, and most certainly, countries. At UBC, active participation and engagement is common in the classrooms. Instructors would often ask students to share their thoughts and inputs on the current topic with the class. Or, students may be put into smaller groups to have group discussions. This may seem intimidating at first but we believe you will get the most out of your education and VSP experience when you actively engage and participate in them. It is in these times that you can practice your public speaking skills and listen to the perspectives of students from other backgrounds and disciplines. A good first step would be to type your thoughts in the Zoom chat, then proceed to unmute your mic and speak when you are more comfortable.

Tip #4: Take Breaks

Online classes can often go two ways—you are either unmotivated to complete your class, or you find it difficult to keep a healthy balance between school and rest. This may seem obvious, but please prioritize your breaks! Stand up, stretch, and be away from your screens between your classes. Done with all your classes for the day? Go outside and have a walk in nature before starting to work on your assignments and readings. For best results, try to keep your breaks technology-free. Balance is key here, but prioritizing your breaks will go a long way!

Photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash

Tip #5: Connect With Others Outside of Class – Have Fun Together

You are already doing your classes remotely and might miss the social interactions and side conversations you could have with your peers. Therefore, go the extra mile to connect with your peers outside of class! While some social events might already be organized for your course package, you can always initiate conversations and reach out to connect with others. This might mean creating a group chat for the class if there isn’t one already set up, connecting with your peers on social media, or even organizing an online games night! The possibilities are endless! Making an effort to build on those new relationships, especially in moments outside of your classes, will make your VSP experience even more memorable.

Photo by Surface on Unsplash

In conclusion, balance is key to everything. Work hard academically but take the time to rejuvenate and connect with others. For those who are beginning their VSP June virtual session, we wish you the best!