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After a more than a year of virtual learning, we are getting back to in-person teaching this fall. Many of you may have panicked when school first went online, and it took some time to adjust. Similarly, it could take you some time to get accustomed to in-person classes this semester. This handout aims to help you prepare for the new semester.

Take-aways from online learning

During the pandemic, new methods were developed for learning and communicating as we were restricted at home. Zoom, for instance, became a handy tool for connecting people. For your upcoming semester, would you find Zoom helpful in certain situations? Maybe for meetings or group discussions? You might find other online learning tips and tools that you used during the pandemic to be helpful (e.g., recorded lectures, planners). Here are some questions that you can ask yourself:

  • What resources/tools/strategies did I use to learn during the pandemic?
  • Which ones do I find to be effective?
  • Is it possible to adopt these strategies in my new in-person semester?
  • How did I stay away from distractions when studying at home? What new distractions will I have during in-person semesters?

Don’t forget to consult our tips on distractions and on digital distractions as you plan.

Classroom experience

In-person instruction means that the dynamic of asking questions and participating in discussions will change. You may find asking questions in large classes to be more difficult, but as the physical distance between people shrinks, you may find the impromptu chatting before and after class with instructors and classmates to be beneficial. Lab courses could be drastically different: instead of watching videos and completing worksheets, you may get to do hands-on experiments. Additionally, quizzes and midterms for in-person classes tend to be closed-book instead of open-book as was often the case in remote learning. These questions may help you recall some of the in-person classroom experiences either at UNC or high school:

  • What do I need to do to prepare for class?
  • Where do I like to sit? When do I need to come to class? How do I ask and answer questions in class?
  • When and how do I contact my professor to ask questions, request letters of recommendation, etc.? After class, during office hours, other times?
  • Do I want to be in a study group? How would I reach out to my classmates?
  • How did I prepare for in-person tests before? What strategies did I use?

Here are some tips on class discussions, talking with your professors, and test taking. If this is your first in-person semester at UNC, it may be helpful to reach out to juniors and seniors (your TAs, RA, friends…) who have taken courses in-person before. The good news is that many people are in the same boat as you!

School-life balance

The pandemic may have changed some of your previous goals and plans. As opportunities gradually re-open, it’s a good time to re-evaluate your goals and make plans on ways to achieve them.

  • What are my goals for this semester grade-wise and life-wise?
  • What are things that I need to do in order to achieve these goals (extracurricular activities, volunteering…)? What do I need to do for each day, each week, each month?
  • What other obligations do I have (i.e., job, trips, events, clubs, family visits, etc.)? Besides these obligations, are there any other things I want to (or should) try out?
  • How do I fit these events into my schedule?

Here are some resources on establishing priorities, time management, and daily/weekly planning. The Learning Center provides various calendars that you can use. You can also find tips on goal setting.

In order to work hard, it’s important to practice self-care. You may find that it is almost impossible to focus for a while after taking a one-hour exam, so maybe that’s a good time to schedule in a break. Similarly, it’s not a great idea to keep working after getting exhausted. With the challenges and burdens from school and life, you need to find your own way to cope with them and incorporate it into your schedule.

  • When do I feel exhausted? How to know that I am burning out?
  • When should I take a rest? How long should I rest?
  • What should I do to relax? What activities do I enjoy?
  • If I feel burdened, who can I talk to?

Here are some tips on managing college stress.

Even though the impact brought by the pandemic is gradually diminishing, you may still be influenced by it. There are many Carolina resources that offer support and that you may want to explore. For individualized help on improving your academic life, schedule an appointment with an Academic Coach at the Learning Center today!


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