How to maintain your grades during distance learning

Covid-19 has brought with it many forms of challenges. For students like us, distance learning has been something we have had to adjust to. Personally, I tend to lose motivation and find it hard to stay focused during online lectures. Having the self-discipline to actually go through the readings and give my best for the assignments can be tough for me as well. Thus, in this article, I will be sharing some ways in which I have learnt to work around distance learning to maintain my grades.

1. Structure your day around school.

It’s easy to lose sight of our priorities in life if we don’t keep ourselves in check. Structuring your day around school means to understand the expectations you have of yourself regarding schoolwork and to proactively work out a schedule or a list so that you can get things done on time.

In this season of Covid-19, doing distance learning at home alone has made me feel isolated and unmotivated many times. For some of those living in dorms, it can be easy to procrastinate your work to hang out with your friends. Worse, it can be tempting to sleep off your morning lectures by saying you’ll look at the recording later. That never happens. When you see the timestamp of 2 hours, you’ll likely start cultivating excuses for yourself. Therefore, it’s important to cultivate the right mindset and the right habits.

Structuring your day around schoolwork doesn’t mean to lock yourself in your room studying all day and not hang out with anyone or do your hobbies. It simply means to learn to prioritise the upkeep of your grades and not let yourself be swayed by things like FOMO and procrastination.

For myself, I structure my day around school by sleeping early on days where I have school the next day to make sure I wake up early for school. This helps me avoid feeling the irritation and demotivation of sleep deprivation. I also block out times which I have set aside to study by making sure to turn down any social invitations and not be swayed by FOMO. Lastly, I plan my weekends according to my progress; if I have not managed to complete my assignments or the revision I have set out to do for the week, I will stay at home and complete them.

2. Form a study group.

This can do wonders for motivation. Some possible candidates for your study group would be the people you’ve already known from your previous schools. I have friends in uni who were friends of mine in JC. Also, you may be placed into breakout rooms in order to discuss during online tutorials. Some of these people could potentially be a friend and study buddy if you guys hit it off. It can be challenging if you consider yourself introverted or socially awkward. It can be tough to put yourself out there and get out of your comfort zone.

When I first entered uni, it was nerve-wracking but I gradually became friends with some of my classmates even though we had never met or seen each other in person. We started chatting online and managed to hit it off in person. If I had let my fear get the better of me, I may never have been able to make these friends.

I also like to consider uni as the last possible time/chance you get to fail in life without any lasting repercussions. Uni is the time to let live and learn and improve yourself however you can before you head out into the workforce. People tend to not judge you as harshly.

A study group can help keep one another in check for assignments and homework. I am part of a study group that consists of 4 of my classmates and I. We will stay back in school to study at least once a week and help each other out when others encounter a question they are stumped by. We have a Telegram group chat that we use to communicate daily. When there are upcoming exams, we will have daily Discord calls to revise together by quizzing one another and explaining concepts to those who need help.

Being in a study group has helped me to also form friendships with these people. It didn’t feel forced. It’s definitely a good way to build friendships in a natural way since everyone is working towards a common goal.

3. Be prepared.

It’s easy to be complacent in the digital age. Distance learning makes it tempting to skive off and not do our work. Distractions abound so it can be so tempting to push off that assignment and just watch another episode of Netflix. I know from personal experience how tempting it is to stop paying attention in lectures because mine are all off-camera and our voices are muted.

We can sometimes fall into the trap of complacency and think that the online exams and quizzes are going to be easy or that the markers will be lenient because it’s distance learning. However, that’s where people get shocked because they end up getting bad grades due to their lack of preparation and poor study habits.

Being prepared starts with cultivating our study habits and sticking to them. A vital part of that is having the right mindset and knowing where your motivation in doing well lies. Being organised and staying on task is already half the battle won. The rest is knowing what is being tested and ensuring you have studied sufficiently.

Personally, I prepare for my exams by reading through the guidelines and understanding what needs to be tested. Then, I make use of the resources that I have and make sure I prepare adequately for the exams by writing notes, drawing mindmaps, and using flash cards for revising key terms. I like to use washi tapes and colourful pens to decorate my notes as this makes it fun and motivates me to study.

Conclusion

Distance learning may have its own benefits such as the comfort of wearing home clothes or even pyjamas and a greater measure of freedom. However, maintaining one’s grades during distance learning can still be challenging especially in such unprecedented times where all we can do is to adapt. As long as we continue to work hard and pull each other up when the other is down, I’m convinced we will be able to manage nicely.

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