Finishing my Senior Year Online

The possibility of home school never dawned on me until my college started offering online classes to freshmen who were looking for ways to manage their workload and also not have to commit to time management when they could do their work whenever they wanted. I refused to take online classes because I thrive in learning environments where I can see and talk to people. All of that has changed and I wouldn't have thought that finishing my last year of college fully remote was the reality I am now living.

I have always been one to have a well-managed routine and a pretty good way with a planner or two. So, as surprised as I am to say this, online learning is probably one of the best things that has happened to me. As a daughter of two teachers, I understand the value of the classroom (as I loved being in one years before), but there is just something so empowering about being able to tackle the work I want to do at my own pace. Nevertheless, I miss seeing my friends and collaborating with classmates the most, but since we all have to be somewhat active online, I can become more active in reading about people's lives, the work they're doing, and be more mindful about the way I respond to others. 
Finding Your Workspace...
It took a while for me to find a place where I could separate work and school from everything else. Our house is already extremely cozy and humble as it is, so when my sisters are home it is really hard to separate and find a place to focus. My bedroom, of all places, was the only option. Thankfully, I have this really nice desk that I've only ever used as a vanity and now converted to my classroom, event "space," and tutoring desk. Every now and then I would leave my room and tutor at the dining room table, but I found the most effective area I could do work at was in my room. 

When I was at school, I would spend hours at our college library and just cram or hash out a paper. It was a place where I could focus and detach from feeling like I could do work on my bed and not be as productive as I would at a sturdy table. The atmosphere makes all the difference. Keeping your workspace clean is also another motivator, so be sure to have some sort of organizer system to keep your notebooks and things! 

Becoming a Mindful Responder...
There were a lot of times during my in-person college days when I just could not function. Usually Mondays, but depending on the time of day, I would just melt into my desk and fear I'd have to participate. It's not something I do on the regular, but we all have those days. Now that I'm learning online, I can make time for myself to actively and mindfully respond to classmates over discussion boards or giving accurate and effective tutoring feedback on papers. I've noticed that I am more willing to respond and also I can choose what I want to respond to. Not only that, but within emails too. I am not just responding to respond, like I would on a day in class where participation felt forced at times. 

Keeping in Contact...
I'm extremely grateful to have had the opportunities to connect with so many amazingly talented and dedicated people during college. But the social life of being a senior this year is non-existent. When a lot of people might have been tailgating, not cramming for finals, or having the common case of senioritis set in, it's been hard to find that sense of community online. Keeping in contact with my past roommates, friends, and even professors has been the most helpful in relieving that sense of isolation. 

You have to put in the effort, but I've definitely had a few wine nights and happy hours with friends, coordinated time to decompress with past professors, or made more time to meet up with my co-workers or meet some new members of organizations I'm in through our mentorship programs. The social dynamic has changed, but I feel more supported than ever.
Those were just a few tid-bits of how I've been able to remain grounded and active with my last year of college. I am remaining grateful for those developing three years and am lucky enough to have been able to establish myself and make the most of the opportunities at DePaul. While I begin to focus on the next steps of my career during my time at home (and having the perks of saving on rent), I am looking forward to celebrating this chapter and am optimistic for what's to come. 

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