2020 started as a year of optimism, clarity and vision. The stock market was bullish, unemployment was low, and hosting a get-together with friends or family was easy. Now, however, we are three months into this new year and it seems already to be a different, less opportunistic world.
If we are being honest, then yes, there are many ways in which things are different now. But if we continue being honest, then we must admit some things have remained the same, especially when we talk about “Dreaming Bigger” and “Doing Greater.”
When you started your educational tenure at MACU, you had a dream and goal. You had a compelling vision of what you wanted in life and how attaining your degree could help you make that vision a reality. I would suggest to you — even in these tumultuous times — that your goals have not likely changed and your dream is still within reach.
For this reason, we wanted to put together some best practices, tips, and tricks on how not only to exist in a world of online, virtual education, but how to thrive in that system. So, whether you are new to online classes or a seasoned veteran, we hope these insights and tactics are helpful as you press on toward your goals:
1. Be welcoming and practice hospitality
In times like these, it’s easy to be wary of strangers. You’ve likely become accustomed to having classes with a set group of people whose names are all familiar by now. In coming days and weeks, you may see new names in your courses as all of our on-ground students are transitioning to online classes. When you see new names, we invite you to do something that’s sometimes downright terrifying: include them, show hospitality, and make them feel at home.
2. Stay engaged
One of the biggest tips we have for all students is to stay engaged in your education. With all the transitions taking place outside our homes, it can be easy to focus on things other than classes, but remember this truth: classes are directional. They exist to help you earn a degree and reach your goals, which likely have not changed. Being diligent in your education now can pay dividends down the road.
3. Stay intentional with your schedule and workspace
Here at MACU, we talk a lot about being intentional rather than accidental. We have found students who are intentional and disciplined with their schedules and workspaces tend to excel in their classes as well. If you do not have a time management plan already or if you are unsure where to start, we recommend using our Week in the Life handout. It provides a simple place to think critically about your schedule and how best to take control of your situation. You can download a copy in your Student Portal under the “Student Services” tab. It’s included in our “New Student Orientation” handout.
More than your schedule, we also recommend students are intentional with their workspace. Do you have a dedicated area where you are able to focus solely on your class requirements? If not, what location might you set aside specifically for that purpose? Just like protecting your time, protecting your work area can lead to enhanced productivity and focus.
4. Include your stakeholders
Did you know the majority of MACU students are working adults with families? We often hear from our students how they returned to finish up their degree in order to either transition away from a job that requires too much time and keeps them away from their family, or they are trying to set new educational standards for their family and be an example of why education is important. These are excellent goals. Often, however, the biggest motivation is often the biggest obstacle to success.
For this reason, we recommend all students include any other stakeholders in conversations about what you’re trying to accomplish. For example, if you have children or a spouse, do they know the reason why you are in college and why it’s important? Do they know when you’re scheduled to work on an assignment or need to focus on a reading? If not, you might consider having those conversations and recruit them to be your support team at home.
5. Remember you are not alone
Speaking of support teams and how the Majority of MACU students are working adults with families, our fifth tip is to remember you are not alone. When taking classes online, one can often feel isolated and insulated from the outside world. Rarely do you see your classmates’ faces and discussion boards don’t quite have the same feel as a face-to-face conversation in a physical classroom. But we’re here to remind you that you are certainly not alone. Here at MACU we pride ourselves in the pursuit of having remarkable students, faculty and staff; further, we firmly believe we are all in this together. From your first class to the last, you are not alone.
6. Know you have help
One of our favorite questions to ask students who call the Solution Center (877-569-3198) is, “How can we be helpful?”
We ask this question with confidence because we know MACU has the resources available to help our students. If you need help with proofreading a paper, there’s a link to the Online Writing Center in your classroom; if you have a disability and need accommodations, we have a full Accommodations team; if you have a question about content in your class, your instructor is a great resource and so is Upswing; if you need to find a scholarly article, the Library has options; if you have questions about Financial Aid, Schedules, Account Balances and More, we have the resources to help. So, if it comes to the point where you need assistance, we ask only that you let us know.