Finding Your Footing Through a Virtual Campus
How you can optimize your connections and education while studying online.
Become part of the community
When adapting to a new environment, creating connections with others who are experiencing similar things as you is crucial. Mount Royal University offers virtual chat rooms and webinars designed to introduce new students to one another.
"It's important to show up," says Kaylene McTavish, New Student Orientation coordinator. "We can have as many platforms as we think are necessary, but unless students are actually participating and engaged, those experiences aren't going to be as meaningful. Be okay with feeling a bit uncomfortable. It's okay to feel nervous but try to push yourself out of your comfort zone."
Find where you belong
The Mount Royal community has a place for everyone, and students are encouraged to explore where they belong. "A lot of connections will be made through group projects and online discussion boards," says McTavish. She explains that "the normalization that every new student is experiencing the same type of fear and anxiety towards this will provide a platform for them to connect and to feel like they're not alone in this transition."
Alternative class delivery may seem daunting to students whose prior education was in person, but it doesn't have to be. "It's important not to compare online learning to in-person learning," says McTavish.
Ensuring academic success
Through digital or in-person learning, keeping track of deadlines is important. "You need to schedule. Find something that works for you, whether it be a digital organizational tool, a paper agenda or both," says Shea Ellingham, manager of academic advising services. Due dates and exams can sneak up on you, so she recommends being proactive by getting on top of assignments and readings early.
When studying from home, it's easy to let your workspace and homespace melt together. "It's important to set up a space where you have a distinct study area. Be intentional about setting up a workspace separate from your personal space," says Ellingham.
Ask for help even if you don't think you need it
"Get dressed in the morning, get ready for the day, ask for help even if you don't think you need it, check in with your faculty members and don't ignore something and think it'll just go away," McTavish adds.
Mount Royal has plenty of academic resources in place to ensure student success, like academic advisors who are eager to point students in the right direction. Additionally, Student Learning Services offers resources and workshops to help students with online learning, writing assignments, exam preparation and more. MRU also has resources for students to connect with peer mentors and student leaders. These mentors exist to help students transition to campus, and to provide academic support in specific classes and programs.
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