Alumni Blog - September

Online Education Tips

We know that when you were dreaming about attending college that this isn't what you had envisioned. We are sure that you had already picked out your dorm decorations, practiced your welcome speech for the stranger you were going to be living with for at least two semesters, and mapping out exactly how long it will take you to walk across campus to each of your classes. Instead you are staring in frustration at a laptop screen and wondering if this is even worth it. (Spoiler alert! It is still worth it!) Trust us when we say that we 100% feel your stress and frustration. This is a new experience for us as a staff, for your administrators, teachers, parents and students.

A lot of you are probably experiencing online education for the very first time. There will definitely be things that you will need to get used to. Even though we are all learning together, we have pulled together a few tips to help ease your transition into virtual learning.

Computer Keyboard

Learn how to use the equipment

Learning how to use your computer properly will be half the battle won. Get familiar with any video-conferencing software, file sharing programs, and chat boards that are required for your courses. Check into how to get stronger internet speed if possible. Freezing or lagging video screens can cause a hindrance to you getting the information needed from your classes. Make sure everything is working, up to date, and that you know how to use it all. Log in early and do a test run of all of your equipment before your classes even begin.

Another important tip we want to share is the importance of learning how to use professional communication. This is a time in which we are dependent on the written word to exchange information and ideas to one another. As an online learner, your ability to both communicate using the written word will be the difference between success and failure. Most of your interactions with your instructors and classmates will require you to write emails, feedback, and chat board messages in complete, coherent, and informative sentences. Who doesn't love the use of a good abbreviation, emoji, and a GIF or two? But remember that your professor is not your friend, even if they are really cool. So when you send your instructor a message, don't use abbreviations and emojis. Compose an email as if you're speaking to a future employer, each and every time. Follow the following link to an article that gives tips and examples of how to write an email to a professor.

Our final few pieces of advice to all of our alumni students who are currently dealing with this "new normal" would be to have patience, grace and mercy for everyone you come into contact with during this season.

Just know that your instructors are nervous and stressed too. This may be the first time your professor has had to teach online. Be patient and expect some hiccups. No one knew that we would be thrust into a worldwide pandemic. There hasn't been a lot of time for training or laying down groundwork for the online learning beforehand. Things are changing minute by minute and everyone is trying to adjust accordingly.

Don't panic when something goes wrong. Your internet may go out or you have a computer glitch. Breathe, shut down the computer, and then calmly log back in. And although it's not ideal, you could use your smartphone as back up. If the tech refuses to cooperate, stay calm and once it starts working email your professor to let them know what happened.

We know that this year will have its challenges and obstacles to overcome but online classes can be an opportunity. It's a chance to be more productive! This experience can be rewarding and educational. It can also be something you can and will carry over into your career fields. It's all about your approach to this new experience.

Upward Bound is funded by the U.S. Department of Education & sponsored by Douglas-Cherokee Economic Authority Inc.