17 Mar 2020

Coronavirus Survival Guide for Students: what to do when your school moves online

Ok, this isn’t what I thought my spring break was going to look like either. But now that we are all navigating some new learning environments, I wanted to share with you some of what we’ve learned over the past ten years working with homeschooled students and students who are temporarily unable to attend traditional school.

#1 Connect with your friends
It’s easy to get sucked into the TikTok spiral (we’re all guilty of it) but don’t forget that it’s important to meaningfully connect with friends, particularly in times of anxiety like these. FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype a friend from school just to say hey. PartyHub on Fortnite! Or even just pick up the phone and call. Whatever you do, make sure you take some time to be present with your friends even when you’re physically apart.

#2 Organize your time
It’s easy to end up “working from bed” when you’re not reporting to a classroom each morning. Fight the temptation to stay up late and join your class in your pajamas by keeping a schedule similar to the one you maintained at school. That means going to bed each night and getting up each morning at the same time, getting the sleep you need to function optimally (most teens need between 9 and 9½ hours – yes, really!), and making your mom proud with your showering and teeth brushing habits. And “get dressed” for school – even if that just means switching from one set of comfy lounge wear to another.

Your day at school was probably tightly scheduled, but not all schools are replicating that same structure as they move online. So it’s up to you to make a plan:

— Keep track of your day-to-day tasks with a simple planner. You could use something as straightforward as this one, an old fashioned notebook, or a digital planner.

— Maintain current organizational habits. If you have a special notebook for recording homework, keep using it.

— Be realistic. Don’t try and cram all of your schoolwork into less time than a typical school day. Create your own schedule equipped with breaks, snacks, social time and anything that normally keeps you sane during the school.

— Create goals. Maybe you have never felt like you have quite enough time to study for that AP Biology weekly quiz. Perhaps your Spanish vocab is a little too limited. Time is finally your friend – use it to your advantage to set and surpass personal academic goals to set yourself up for success when school is back to normal.

— Schedule time to meet with teachers. Online learning is new for your teachers too and it might be slightly more difficult for them to identify who needs an extra hand. Help yourself (and them!) by proactively checking in.

#3 Get a head-start on standardized test preparation
You know it’s true: test preparation is difficult enough without simultaneously balancing a heavy course load, extracurricular activities, and a busy social life. Use some of your found time to prepare for newly rescheduled ACTs (look for exams on June 13 and July 18) and SATs (likely in June and August plus one TBD in between – but only time will tell). And don’t forget about SAT Subject Tests! Literature, Math 2, and Physics are our most prepped tests here; take a practice test out of the Official Guide for all SAT Subject Tests and see how you do or contact us to get started preparing with one of our expert Sentia Tutors.

#4 Brainstorm college applications
Wait, what? Yes, I’m talking to you class of 2021. Now’s a great time to research schools, plan some enriching summer activities, and get a draft of your personal statement started. Identify some goal schools and the grades and scores you need to get in. No day but today!

#5 Don’t neglect your extracurricular activities
If you’re an athlete, being stuck at home without daily practice can be frustrating. Instead of bouncing a tennis ball off the wall on repeat (cue mom’s screaming), circuit train in the yard or an empty local park – if there’s one nearby that meets social distancing requirements – or get your sweat on at home. Am I doing that retro Cher workout my sister loves? No. But hey, whatever floats your boat.

I’m a theatre guy and love the arts. If you do too check out the newly-free opera streams at the MET (seriously, do this. It’s fancy but also fun!), take a Masterclass, watch famous live performances at OnTheBoards.TV (free with code ARTATHOME20), or practice the bassoon (N.B.: bassoon required).

Check out some more tips later this week in our Coronavirus Survival Guide for Students: what to do when your school moves online, PART 2 (catchy title, right?)

If you need help staying on track with school assignments, getting ready for the ACT, SAT, or Subject Tests, or just learning something new, we’re here to help. Sentia’s Academic Mentorship tutoring is significantly discounted for families affected by COVID-19 school closures. Talk it over with your parents and then email or call us today to create a bespoke program tailored perfectly to your unique needs.

At Sentia, we don’t just tutor, we’ll be with you every step of the way™.

P.S. I’m doing a webinar on Friday March 20th at 1pm EST to learn how to use schedule changes to your advantage and get the scores you need for admission to your dream school. Join me!

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