University Park, IL,
09:07 AM

A Jaguar’s New Normal: Navigating a COVID-19 Classroom Environment

Welcome to the new normal, Jaguars!

We left Governors State University (GSU) on March 9 in anticipation of seven days of de-stressing bliss. I spent that time in the southern states—Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama— but little did I know that when my adventure was over, I wouldn’t be stepping foot on GSU's campus for the remainder of the semester because the university had moved all classes online due to the pandemic.

Initially, I was anxiety ridden at the prospect of taking all my classes online.

Is my GPA going to plummet? Will I be able to handle the isolation?

When I told my advisor that I preferred all online classes, this is not what I had in mind!

In addition to the uncertainty of classes, I was also concerned about losing opportunities at GSU. I wanted to continue my work as a tutor, an intern for the GSU Marketing department, and a Research Assistant for Dr. Alli Cipra’s Psychological Development lab. When I was told I could continue my student work and internship duties remotely, I was ecstatic!

During the two days I waited to hear from my supervisors, I found myself baking three batches of Oreo-crumble cookies to keep myself from becoming stir-crazy. I like, and missed, the fast-paced student life.

As far as classes, I have always been one for compartmentalization, so online classes are usually enjoyable for me. Already having been enrolled in three of my five classes online, I thought the adjustment to a fully online schedule would only be a minor one. I was right.

For me, the drastic change has been my study environment. Finally, two weeks in, I believe I've figured out what works best for me. These tips could help you, too.

  1. A clean study space is key. Your environment plays a big role in how easy it is to concentrate when working from home. It's a wonder what a difference this makes to your focus and sense of peace!
  2. A muted phone. Maybe turn on a playlist you find motivating, and tell your family not to disturb! Distractions can be overwhelming.
  3. Break down the assignments you need to do for the week by class and focus on one class at a time.
  4. And if you’re struggling, you're not alone. Don’t hesitate to ask for guidance from your professor or your class’s supplemental instructor. Remember, everyone is adapting to this situation. We are all in this together!

As much as I miss speaking to the staff on campus and holding my tutoring office hours on the Library balcony, I know that better times are on the way and there are things to look forward to when the GSU campus opens up post-pandemic, like a renovated GSU café.

I have a newfound appreciation for the hardworking faculty and staff who continue to support students and, oddly, I look forward to those Monday morning 8 a.m. classes, when pre-COVID-19, I would rather have done anything else.

Above all, I know what it truly means to be a Jaguar — always adapting to a new environment.