In September, first-year student Liz Contos began online classes at Mount Royal University, but she is currently struggling with the transition to virtual classes and working at home.
Contos registered for classes knowing that they would take place in an online capacity, but it has been a challenge for her.
“The biggest adjustment for me is trying to focus on my classes and then motivating myself to finish my assignments on time, without any reminders from peers or professors,” she says.
Diagnosed with ADHD, Contos says that in order to stay on top of her work-load, she tries to follow a self-disciplined schedule.
“I’ve just had to learn to prioritize, like, ‘ok what’s due next, and what do I have to do first?’”
Working from her apartment, Contos also faces a unique set of distractions — including three adopted cats.
“You have to be motivated to study in an environment that is usually pretty distracting. Like, being at home it’s easy to want to watch T.V. or just eat a snack, or do something else,” she says.
With over 30 years of experience teaching at Mount Royal University, Prof. Diana Sole Kahler fully understands the difficulties that students face with the transition to online learning.
She believes that issues like time management and meeting deadlines are the greatest challenges for students, especially in the midst of balancing other priorities.
“Meeting those deadlines is tough because we expect that students have things going on other than their academics,” she says.
“Our students are not just doing school, they are doing school plus.”
But with classes online, Sole Kahler says that both her attendance rates and student grades are higher.
Despite the difficulties with online learning, Contos says that it is possible to succeed — but it takes discipline and finding a personalized way of working.
“It is possible, you just have to be disciplined,” she says. When it comes to finding ways to stay motivated, Contos says, “I would encourage you to find out what those things are so that you can better help yourself, because it is a weird time, and it is a weird way to do school.”
“It’s not something that any of us are used to.”