It’s tough navigating school closures and extracurricular cancellations. It’s even harder that these closures overlap with AP, IB, SAT/ACT, and final exams.
At ArborBridge, we have a decade of online teaching experience that can help right now, even while we’re all eager to get back to IRL.
Here are 7 ways to make the most of your time online while school's closed.
#1: Put the “social” in social media
When you’re stuck at home, stay in touch with your friends through whatever channels you already know and love. Hang out on a Zoom, or WhatsApp video chat with your study buddies. Share your to-do lists on Google Docs or Asana to keep each other accountable. Record and share Loom videos to help your classmates with hard concepts you’ve figured out. Find course-specific and student communities on Reddit. And don’t forget to take pleasure in the latest TikToks and memes that lighten the mood.
#2: Make a schedule
Will power alone never got anything done.
All of us need structure, and when class periods and bell rings aren’t available, we’ve got to create schedules for ourselves. If your school isn’t providing a rigid schedule, here’s how to make a plan:
- Calculate the time you expect your assignments to require.
- Make a list of other obligations or tasks you need time for each day or each week.
- Pick a planner. Good old paper works great, or you can use online schedulers like Google Calendar, digital planners like Schooltraq, or all-in-one planner/mindmap tools like GoConqr. Don’t think too hard about this or spend too much time comparing—pick the planner system that feels easiest or most fun, and go with it.
- Put deadlines for all upcoming assignments, as well as any commitments, into the planner.
- Do the math and merge it with your self-knowledge to make a plan. How many days do you have between now and when a given assignment is due? Divide the hours needed by the number of days to roughly figure out how much time you need to spend per day on a given task. Move things around to account for your preferences and other obligations: maybe a big math assignment isn’t due until next week, but you know you’ll be stressed out the longer it’s hanging over you, so you decide to do the whole thing at once tomorrow.
- Pick an accountability-buddy: friends or family members who check in and hold you accountable to your plan. Share your plan and schedule with them. Every few days, talk to your accountability-buddy about how the plan went, and make any needed tweaks for the following day.
- Follow a no-judgment rule. It’s hard to change our habits and to be in charge of our own time. The most important thing is to keep re-centering around the discoveries you make about what works for you.
Extra Tip! We love Marinara Timer for keeping on track. You’ll study in cycles of 25 minutes punctuated by 5 minute breaks, with a longer 15-minute break after 4 cycles. It’s a great way to stay on track but also give your brain some rest.
#3: Get a head start on college applications and tests
It might not be fun, but it’s true: if you’re in the Class of 2021, now is a great time to get ahead on college applications. Whether to research schools with a tool like Big Future, study for the SAT or ACT (ArborBridge can help!), or draft your first personal statements, use your at-home free time now.
You’ll thank yourself later: when the COVID-19 fog lifts or summer break comes, you can go out and be totally free to enjoy your time.
#4: Focus on the upside of online
Although it’s new for some, online education has been around for a while, and there are many fantastic resources available.
- Use Khan Academy and Hippocampus for video tutorials in every subject under the sun (including SAT test prep on Khan!).
- Fiveable and AP Classroom are incredible resources for AP course content.
- Try Evernote for note-taking and info-tracking.
What’s more, remember that these are all now available at your fingertips, on your timeline, with none of the distractions or specific anxieties of classroom spaces.
#5: Extracurriculars: all is not lost
Missing sports practice? Try workouts on Aaptiv, or hit the streets or a nearby park for solo or small-group outdoor exercise, if that will work in your community right now.
What about rehearsals for music, theater, dance, or other performing arts? Practice your material on a video chat with a small group of friends, take a Masterclass, or watch renowned performance works on OnTheBoards.TV.
Do you participate in debate, Model UN, or other government/politics activities? Sign up to make calls or send texts remotely for a candidate you support.
Is community service a big part of your life? Research and share local information about elders and immunocompromised people in your community who might need support right now, and organize fundraisers and social-distancing-informed efforts to get them supplies they might not have easy access to.
There are ways to live your hobbies and your values even without sharing physical space with others.
#6: Take advantage of your screens—then turn them off
We love all the ways that screens allow us to get things done and stay connected to our friends and family, even and especially during stressful times. That said, we all need breaks from screentime.
And such breaks may be extra important during times of isolation.
Read, daydream, stretch, take a dance break to your favorite music, or just lie on a comfortable surface and close your eyes for a few minutes. Go for a long walk or take time to cook a meal. Sit with your family members and talk about your feelings and your days. And make sure to stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep.
#7: Celebrate adaptation
As challenging as this time may be, there’s so much to discover about our individual and collective abilities to make the best of a tough situation. By the time you’re back in school, you might have made new friends in an online learning forum, watched every movie on this list, mastered the art of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, or just greatly improved your ability to self-manage your own time. That’s worth a shoutout for sure.
If you need help keeping on track with assignments for school, ArborBridge is currently offering significantly discounted academic mentorship tutoring for any student affected by COVID-19 school closures. Contact us today to set up a program.
ArborBridge is the global leader in innovative, digital, one-on-one tutoring. With nearly a decade of experience teaching students online, ArborBridge supports students of all kinds: home schoolers, test preppers, and more. Our tutors specialize in creating personalized plans and in providing compassionate support for students and families.