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coronavirus

Student Life

How to Manage Your Time While Studying Online

December 26, 2020

Online learning definitely has its perks, including no commuting, flexibility, and studying at your own pace . But since there’s little to no authority, the responsibility of sticking to your schoolwork is solely yours. You can only make it work with proper management skills.

If you’re an online scholar and find it hard to manage your time, this piece is for you. Here are eight tips on time management for learners pursuing online courses.

Designate Space for All Your Learning Tasks

A common challenge online students encounter is finding a suitable place for studying, classes, and group discussions. As a result, allocating time for studying and actually focusing can be difficult. You need a conducive environment for studying- whether in the house, at a café, or even local library.

Study space will help develop the proper mindset and actually focus. Also, ensure that you have the required software, a strong internet connection and power outlets nearby.

Don’t forget these important features of your study space:

  • Well lit
  • Clutter-free
  • Comfortable
  • Away from noise or disturbances

Plan Your Week Ahead

The flexibility that comes with online studying also bears a cost. If you are not disciplined, you won’t accomplish anything. Your regular schedule outside of schoolwork can take the majority of your days if you let it. That’s why you need to take charge of your commitments by planning. Set aside time ahead for reading, participating in group discussions, and tackling assignments.

If you need help, such as from a college essay editor, engage one early not to miss a deadline. Also, go through your schoolwork and figure out how you can prioritize. Some tasks will require more time, while others won’t. You’ll make better use of your time if you assess your syllabus to determine when you will work on particular tasks.

Use a planner and write down things like:

  • Assignment deadlines: paper drafts and submission copies
  • Virtual classes and meetups with educators and academic counselors
  • Other academic activities: group discussions, networking meetups, etc.

Devise a Routine Using a Schedule

When it comes to online learning, there’s usually no such thing as a routine. This freedom that comes with studying asynchronously online can sometimes lead to procrastination and laziness. Therefore, it falls upon you to develop a daily routine for tackling assignments and studying for your units. Start with making a daily schedule and to-do list and try to be consistent about following it.

Break Up Your Coursework

Some courses and even assignment might seem intimidating at first glance. And, you may be hard-pressed when scheduling them within your tight schedule. An excellent tip to managing your time and accomplishing things is to break up your coursework. Check what you’ve got to cover and break it down into sizeable parts that you can cover at different times.

Come Up with a Work-Life-Study Balance

You need to formulate an excellent work-study program, especially if you’ve got to attend online learning sessions and still show up at work. To develop a well-balanced plan that keeps you from wearing down, arrange your time to focus on these three essentials- school, job, and your personal life.

Go for a simple schedule that is easy to follow. And remember to pay utmost attention to every area of life at each moment.

Overcome the Urge to Multitask

Refrain from multitasking when studying online. Often, doing this undermines your productivity, making the learning process ineffective. Always focus on a single study activity at any given moment, for example, revising for a test, reading a section in a book, or attending a Skype appointment.

How do you plan your undertakings to avoid multitasking? To overcome this habit, many people recommend that you plan your activities according to importance. The first 3 or 4 time-sensitive and important tasks should come at the top of your list. Feel free to use various project management tools to enhance your focus.

Get Enough Rest & Start Your Day Early

Do you get enough rest? Do you wake up early? As a student, you need always to be well-rested and, better yet, an early riser to make the most out of your academic pursuits. How can you achieve both of these? To get enough rest and still wake up early, you must get to bed early and ensure that you get some quality sleep.

Today, many online programs allow for much flexibility, making it quite easy to extend your day well into the night to accommodate various activities. While this might seem ideal initially, this habit often wears down even the most hardworking of learners. Without enough rest, your memory and learning capabilities are undermined.

Stay ahead of your studies by getting a full night’s sleep throughout your online course. Try formulating a sleeping schedule that allows you to sleep for at least 8 hours each night and wake up around the same time each day.

Figure Out What Distracts You & Avoid it

What takes your attention when it’s study time? Whether it’s entertainment, social media, or a neighborhood gossip site, it’s best to identify and address it. Distractions tend to undermine the learning process by taking up your focus. As such, you can miss out on important concepts, making you waste a lot of time to understand.

If your distractions are on the internet, you could use website blockers such as KeepMeOut. Such tools will help you stay off social media or other platforms during study time.

Taking an online course remains an excellent idea for anyone who wishes to further their education. To make sure the process is as beneficial as possible, one must take command of the learning process right from the start. The tips in this article will go a long way in ensuring that your studying is effective.

Health

Protecting Against Mental and Physical Fatigue in College

December 11, 2020

Pursuing an education was already a draining proposition before COVID-19 temporarily rewrote the playbook. Now, learning online, in a socially distanced classroom, or via a hybrid of these two options, has become downright exhausting.

As a student, it’s important to take extra precautions to protect yourself from the additional fatigue this can create. Here are a few recommendations for various ways to protect both your mind and your body from the added stress that comes with schooling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Identify Your Social Support Network

Research regarding lockdown fatigue amongst college students has shown that one of the most important factors to success had to do with social support. Those who perceived a higher social support experience tended to fair better in confinement and lockdowns.

With that in mind, it’s critical that you maintain a solid social support network throughout your time in college. This is particularly challenging during a pandemic. Fortunately, we live in the 21st-century, and there is a plethora of alternative forms of communication that can be used to remain connected to your social network (i.e. your close friends and family), including:

  • Phone calls.
  • Text messages.
  • Social media.
  • Video chats.
  • Email.
  • Handwritten letters.

As you go through school, remain in close contact with your social support network at all times. This can help you identify, process, and address fatigue when it arises.

Consider Your Home Study Setup

One of the most obvious physical barriers to overcome is maintaining your physical health when you’re endlessly studying in lockdown. The need to do homework and attend virtual classes can keep you strapped to your desk and staring at a screen for countless hours every day. You can mitigate the undesirable physical effects that this causes by:

Maintaining your physical condition and endurance can help you remain at the top of your game while you learn from the homefront.

Fight the Mental Battle Daily

Finally, it’s important to make a proactive effort to fight for your mental health. This isn’t a one time deal, but a consistent task that must be tended to on a daily basis.

Letting things like stress go unattended can lead to a variety of different symptoms that can impact your ability to study and learn. This includes things like listening and communication problems, speech issues, developing depression and anxiety, and even poor motor skills. Fight back by:

  • Silencing your inner critic and staying positive.
  • Eating, sleeping, and exercising regularly and in healthy quantities.
  • Maintaining communication with your school’s counseling center.
  • Leaning on your social support network.
  • Meditating daily.
  • Unplugging from your devices when you’re not studying or attending classes.

By taking steps to preserve your mental health, you can ensure that you’re in the best state of mind as you tend to your studies.

Guarding Your Mind and Body

Your educational journey was always meant to be busy. Classes, homework, and exams were going to leave you feeling drained, regardless of the circumstances.

Nevertheless, the unique situation that the coronavirus has created has made it more important than ever to take steps to proactively protect your mind and body from fatigue. So build that social network, perfect your home-study situation, and keep fighting the battle for your mental health every day. Above all, regularly remind yourself that this too shall pass.

Keep your chin up! We’ll all get through this together.

BIO: Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture.

Health

Adapting to the New Normal: What College Will Look Like in 2021

November 23, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic took the world by surprise and forced colleges to change their approach to education. In-person classes would put both teachers and students at risk of catching the virus, so a lot of colleges had to switch to remote teaching. It seems that we will have to stick to remote learning for the coming year as pharmaceuticals still race to create a vaccine for the virus. You can expect colleges to adapt to different ways of holding classes, add new tasks for educators, and introduce new rules as they navigate growing challenges brought on by the pandemic.

Hybrid Learning

Many colleges have announced that they will continue to conduct classes virtually, especially as the number of cases continues to grow. However, once the vaccine for COVID-19 hits the market, you can expect them to adopt a hybrid model of learning. This model is a mix of in-person and virtual classes.

It will be a challenge at first for colleges to return back to only in-person classes. They will most likely have to ensure that all students on campus have been vaccinated – a reason why many institutions might not go back to the usual ways of teaching immediately. Some of the colleges and universities have already started using the hybrid model of learning in the fall of 2020, and the number of them will only grow next year, since experts predict the COVID-19 vaccine should be available mid-2021.

More one-on-one time with educators

Lecturers will likely be expected to put in extra time with virtual office hours to make up for the lack of in-person classes. Switching to remote learning has not been easy for students. There are many distractions online that can get in the way of learning during a virtual class, which means lecturers will have to put in more effort to keep students engaged and, at times, even dedicate more of their own time to one-on-one sessions with students, to gauge how much they have learned and if they need any additional help.

This of course will not be easy for lecturers to do, so it will be interesting to see the role of the college administration to hold them accountable and motivate them to invest even more time in their students.

Precautions like never before

In the scenario that a vaccine is made public and colleges go back to in-person classes only, there will probably have to be extreme precautions, some of which we have seen being applied throughout 2020. You can expect the number of students per class to stay trimmed down, so they can be socially distanced inside the classrooms. Everyone will be asked to wear a mask and limit physical contact. Colleges will also need to improve their medical centers to ensure they can respond to any major outbreaks that may arise.

Precautions will not only be limited to the classrooms. Libraries, dorms, and other spaces on campus will adopt precautions to ensure students, faculty, and other employees on campus are safe.

Like most industries, colleges continue to adapt to the changing circumstances of the pandemic. Until COVID-19 is controlled, you can expect colleges to stick to remote learning with limited, if at all, face to face interaction between faculty and students. 2021 hopes to bring some light with many hopeful that a vaccine will be introduced soon. But only time will tell.

BIO: With years of experience as a content strategist and creator, Anita Sambol has a ‘super-power’ of being a clear human voice for brands when talking to their audience. One of the projects she currently enjoys the most is being a content associate to EU Business School, where she’s also including her own experience from student and business life.

Health

Bloomberg: Tuition Insurance Sounds Great, Unless it Doesn’t Cover Covid-19

November 16, 2020

As Covid-19 outbreaks continue to pop up nationwide, college campuses are no exemption. Naturally, college parents are anxious about their kids’ health. Olivia Raimonde, Janet Wu and Katherine Chiglinsky took a deep dive for Bloomberg into the health and financial worries of Covid-19 and college.

The feature, ‘Tuition Insurance Sounds Great, Unless It Doesn’t Cover Covid-19’ includes an interview with a GradGuard member, Marcy Fischer, about her decision to send her daughter to Emory University with Tuition Insurance. Covering her daughter’s tuition and off-campus lease comes to about $30,000 per semester.

“You know, if they just get sent home from school and go virtual, that’s one thing,” Fischer, who lives in Massachusetts, told Bloomberg. “But if they were to get sick and have to withdraw from university for the semester, we’d be out that money.”

To cover the risk of losing tens of thousands of dollars, Fischer bought a tuition insurance plan from GradGuard, she told Bloomberg. The plan can cover what would have been otherwise lost tuition expenses and other fees if a student is too sick to finish the semester.

Atlanta-based Emory University is one of the nearly 400 colleges and universities that partner with GradGuard to offer college students and their families the best rate and coverage for tuition insurance. Fischer was able to protect a semester’s worth of expenses, $30,000, for around $300. Any student attending a four-year non-profit college or university can purchase a policy, however, the policies are underwritten by Allianz Global Assistance and are more costly if purchased directly online.    

Interest in tuition insurance has jumped significantly over the year, as the pandemic made the financial risk of college even more apparent, according to John Fees, CEO of GradGuard.

“Families are more aware than ever before of the risks of paying for college,” Fees said.

Epidemics and pandemics are typically excluded from GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance coverage. However, until further notice, GradGuard is choosing to accommodate claims for students who completely withdraw from school due to becoming ill with Covid.

In addition to Covid, Bloomberg goes on to explain that tuition insurance can also cover withdrawals due to other types of illness, including mental health conditions.

But it’s important to note that tuition insurance won’t cover costs if a school moves from in-person classes to online-only learning.

“It’s a medical withdrawal, not a change in how schools teach,” Fees said. “It’s not a business interruption insurance.”

GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance is an affordable way for college students and families to protect what’s often the second-largest investment in their lives. Covid outbreaks on college campuses highlight further proof of how costly it can be for these families when a student is forced to withdraw.

Student Life

How to Stay Engaged During Virtual Lectures

October 30, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we learn, with an ever increasing number of courses now moving to an online format. But this doesn’t mean that students need to make any compromises in terms of their studies.

Virtual lectures provide all the benefits of more traditional teaching, and they can be just as effective when it comes to imparting knowledge. And of course, they’re also easily accessible and a safer alternative than in-person classes when it comes to Covid-19.

If you’re embarking on a new course with virtual lectures, workshops or seminars, take a look at our top tips on how to stay engaged to make the most out of your teaching.

Find a quiet space

Whether you’ve just moved into university accommodation or you’re starting a new course from home, you’ll definitely need a quiet place to study.

Set up a suitable study area in your university room or within your home, and try to make this area as quiet and distraction-free as possible. Then, when it’s time to log in and start a lecture, you’ll already have a study-ready space available, and those you live with will know not to disturb you while you’re working.

Free yourself from digital distractions

Digital devices can be great for online learning, but they also have an uncanny ability to divert our attention when we least expect it. 

Before tuning in to a lecture, make sure notifications are turned off on your phone and tablet, and shut any browser tabs that aren’t relevant to the lecture. Remember to close any email accounts that you might have open too, because it’s always tricky to resist opening a new message when you see one pop up!

Keep your sound on

There are steps that you can take that will subconsciously encourage you to stay focussed and engaged. And sound is key to this.

If you’re studying in a quiet space with little background noise, then it’s a good idea to keep your sound turned on as you watch the lecture. That way, you won’t be tempted to start talking to housemates, and you won’t get up to make a quick coffee midway through.

Focus on your lecturer

Some online learning platforms provide participants with a huge selection of information, from comments and feedback from other students to feeds showing everyone taking part. While these options are useful for certain forms of teaching, such as collaborative discussions, they can also feel a little overwhelming when they’re not needed.

If you’re taking part in a lecture and you need to focus solely on what’s being said by the professor, toggle the options to show only the live feed from your lecturer. Make sure your screen isn’t showing other participants, and take away the stream from your own camera, because that too can be a huge distraction.

Engage with others

Interactivity can be incredibly beneficial in online teaching, particularly when lectures draw to a close and it’s time for questions and comments. To get the most out of the interactive elements of your course, it pays to be as engaged as possible.

When it’s your turn to speak, make sure you look directly into the camera. Pay careful attention to how your professor and fellow students react to your comments, taking notes as others speak. Stay focussed throughout the discussion, and try to engage with other participants as much as possible.

Virtual lectures provide fantastic learning opportunities for students who are unable to gather at lecture halls for in-person teaching. Using the latest online learning platforms, these lectures offer all the interactivity of a traditional lecture, and they’re always accessible no matter where students happen to be.

While distractions can get in the way during online learning, there are plenty of steps that students can take to ensure that they squeeze every possible drop of knowledge out of their virtual lectures. Follow our steps and you’ll make the most out of your online course – without ever having to step foot outside your front door.

Author Bio: This article was written by conference and keynote speaker bureau, VBQ Speakers.

Student Life

How to Graduate Successfully During the Pandemic

October 29, 2020

The pandemic has completely changed the way our daily lives look. Very quickly, we’ve had to readjust many of our habits and daily routines that we once took for granted. So it’s no surprise that for many of us, both the present and the future appear uncertain. The pandemic has presented most people with challenges they may have never had to face before, such as forced distance, or the loss of opportunities. 

Students, in particular those approaching their date of graduation, are more prone to thinking ahead than most, as they seek to plan their next step in life. For students in this position, the uncertainty and challenges of the pandemic add another layer of stress to the prospect of graduation. However, panic is not the answer, and with a cool head and positive attitude, graduation can remains firmly on the horizon. Here are a few tips to help you ensure that the coronavirus doesn’t get in the way of you securing your hard-earned diploma! 

Stay on Top of Your Studies

Just because many campuses have shut their doors and the classroom walls can seem like a distant memory, that doesn’t mean that academic standards should be let slip! It’s important for students to stay focused on upholding the quality of their academic work so as not to lose sight of their educational goals. 

While it may not be possible to sit with teachers or peer groups in person, the internet luckily offers students many tools that allow them to keep their academic standards high even while social distancing. Students can make use of online tools to make sure the quality of their research does not slip by using a referencing site and a plagiarism checker tool. By upholding a strong sense of academic integrity, students can more easily focus their sights on that up-coming graduation date with confident single-mindedness. 

Stay Active

It’s essential to keep the mind and body sharp as ever. Continuing with your hobbies outside of the classroom will make it a lot easier to preserve a sense of normal life and lessen the likelihood that the pandemic will have a negative impact on your academic motivation. 

If the way you practice your pastimes, such as being part of a team sport or meeting with a hobby club, has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a great opportunity to try out new things and maybe develop a new passion! Think about hobbies or skills you’ve long been meaning to take up. Seeing your progress in something outside the classroom is a great way to keep up that sense of academic motivation that will keep you plain-sailing towards graduation.

Stay Connected


In these times, when social distancing is a must, it can be easy to feel a little disconnected. To keep grounded in both your social and academic life, it’s important to stay in contact with those you care about. Use social media to reach out to friends and acquaintances, new and old. Staying connected to those around you will help keep you connected to your study goals and smoothen the path to graduation.

Student Life

Financial Advisor Magazine: Want a College Refund for Covid Chaos?

October 6, 2020
Financial Advisor Magazine: Want a College Refund for Covid Chaos?

Even outside of a pandemic, getting a college tuition refund or reimbursement could be tricky. Confusion has only increased since the spring, and is coming to light even more now that fall semesters are in full swing at colleges and universities nationwide. 

Kevin Walker dives into the college refund conundrum for Financial Advisor Magazine.

Many schools attempted to curb outbreaks by delaying the start of in person classes, or switching entirely to online-only instruction. 

But despite Covid-19 concerns, many schools opened doors for on-campus learning and the inevitable spread of the virus still happened, despite mask requirements, rules against large groups and gatherings, and other restrictions, Walker states.

College And University Response

Some colleges and universities have tried to limit further spread by recommending students quarantine and shelter in place. Financial Advisor mentions the University of Arizona’s two-week shelter in place order that was implemented on September 14.

This semester is proving to definitely be a challenge for higher education administrators nationwide – at no real surprise. 

College Refund Policies

Adding to the chaos are college refund policies. The majority of colleges and universities provide no refunds for tuition beyond the first few weeks of classes, according to an Ipsos poll for Allianz Global Assistance. Virtually none provide refunds for academic fees and room and board. That same poll found that about 85% of parents and students said they would be hurt financially if there were no refund at all. 

As Walker states, it’s important to know what policies generally exist:

• When a student withdraws during a semester (because of illness or for some other reason) the college’s refund policy may include reimbursement, especially if the student withdraws within the first month.
• Colleges and universities typically offer refunds on a sliding scale. Most schools won’t give any money back at all after the fifth week of classes.
• On the other hand, if a student is expelled for a specific cause, such as not following the college’s Covid-19 guidelines, there’s no refund. 

Typical School Refund Policy

Tuition Insurance To The Rescue?

Tuition insurance provides refunds for students withdrawing from school for medical reasons. This is particularly helpful for students who withdraw in the middle of or late in the semester. Typically, they may not receive any tuition reimbursement at all. But tuition insurance can handle the amount not covered, including other fees that are typically excluded from college refund policies, Walker states. 

Tuition insurance doesn’t apply if a student leaves for academic or disciplinary reasons, or because they can’t afford the costs.

GradGuard, with nearly 400 school partners, is the largest provider of tuition insurance in the country. Plans exclude epidemics but the insurer issuing the policies, Allianz Global Assistance, announced in June it would cover students who had to withdraw due to contracting the coronavirus.

It’s important for students and families to know what’s covered and what’s not in terms of Covid-19 coverage:

  • Policies must be purchased prior to the start of classes. 
  • Don’t expect it to cover in-person classes moving to online-only instruction. 
  • Fear of attending class due to the virus isn’t covered.

Questions to Ask

Making sure you understand your school’s refund policy as it relates to Covid-19 and beyond will save you some surprises that may come up later on. Some of this may seem like a lot to take in, but with college being one of the largest investments most families will ever make, it’s smart for college students and families to look into the answers to these questions.

1. What is the college or university’s room and board refund policy? 
2. Is it possible to get a tuition refund if a student withdraws? What is the “sliding scale” of the refund-to-withdrawal time line?
3. What are the college or university’s current Covid-19 policies?
4. What disciplinary action occurs if a student doesn’t follow the Covid-19 policies?
5. What are the student loan options with the CARES Act?
6. Are there more options to pay for college if families’ employment situations have changed? Can the financial aid office take another look at the student’s financial aid package?
7. What are some ways students can make money in college or through off-campus jobs?

College students and families are prudent  to individually assess their own personal situations when it comes to tuition insurance.

Other

Money Magazine: Tuition Insurance and Coronavirus

July 28, 2020
Some college families consider tuition insurance amid the pandemic

Chances are, college is the biggest investment families will ever make next to buying a home. According to College Board, the average cost of a 4-year public university for out-of -state students in $42,970, and $26,590 for in-state students. So it’s no surprise to see the growing interest in tuition insurance amid the pandemic, as college families are looking for ways to protect their investment.

Money Magazine contributor Joanna Nesbit interviewed John Fees, co-founder of GradGuard about how tuition insurance works, what’s covered, and what’s not.

How does tuition insurance work?

GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance reimburses tuition, room and board, and academic fees if a student completes a covered medical withdrawal. Plans also cover mental health conditions – which are on the rise among students – including depression and anxiety. Untimely death of a student or tuition payer may also be covered.

It’s important for students to know there are limitations and exclusions that apply, and plans must be purchased prior to the start of classes.

What isn’t covered by tuition insurance?

GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance is not “drop-out insurance.” As stated in the Money article, student’s can’t simply decided they need to go home. They must be assessed by a licensed medical practitioner and obtain a written recommendation to withdraw. Other exclusions include injuries during amateur sports competitions, participating in a riot, or pursuing in extreme sports such as mountain climbing or bungee jumping.

Pre-existing physical or mental health conditions might be covered. Fees advises that the best thing students with pre-existing conditions should do is to obtain a doctor’s note saying they’re well enough to start college.

Can tuition insurance help protect against uncertainties caused by the coronavirus pandemic?

Epidemics and pandemics are typically excluded from most insurance policies. But until further notice, GradGuard’s plans include coverage if a student becomes ill due to COVID-19. It’s important to be aware that if campuses close, and students are sent home again like they were in the spring, tuition and housing fees would not be reimbursed by tuition insurance.

GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance also does not provide refunds due to fear of being on campus, or if the method of instruction has changed — such as moving in person classes to online.

The bottom line:

Many families may not find the need for tuition insurance, especially if their student’s school provides a generous refund policy or they can afford the cost of an unexpected extra semester in the event the student had to leave school. However, most families find it difficult to afford the extra cost and thus are smart to purchase tuition insurance, and make sure their investment is protected.

Looking to buy tuition insurance? First, ask your school if they offer it. Another easy way to find out is to use GradGuard’s College Search Tool.