Opinions, Column

Pennacchio-Harrington: Advice From a Remote Freshman

Excited, nervous, anxious, and happy. When my adviser asked me over Zoom how I felt about the first week of school, I knew those were the common answers other students would be giving.

In addition to all of these emotions, I was most concerned about the uncertainties the fall semester would bring. 

Would I be able to make as strong of connections among my peers as if I were in person? What would a virtual lab look like? How would I be completely involved in the BC community from within the walls of my sister’s old room? These questions all swirled around my head as I awaited the first day of school. 

If I haven’t already mentioned, I’m remote this fall. But just because I am not on campus does not mean I am missing out on the college transition “rollercoaster,” as those who have come before me like to call it. I’ve already learned many great tips throughout my freshman year, but the biggest one is that college is all about balance.

I have to ask myself questions such as “What should I be putting my energy into?” and “What goals do I have for myself this year, and how will I achieve them?” It is critical to have your priorities straight from the get-go. When you consider these questions, think about a wide range of goals you may have—-in areas ranging from academics, to extracurriculars, to friendships—and how you are going to achieve them.

I always say that if you believe, you will achieve. But along with having a positive mindset, you have to formulate a schedule for yourself and stick to it. This is especially true for me as a remote student. Just because my classes may be online does not mean that my work schedule and time management skills can go out the window. To be honest, these skills are more important than ever.

As a student on the pre-med track, I have met quite a heavy workload. At the moment, I am taking two natural sciences, math, English core, and social science core. Despite the heaviness of the workload, I still enjoy doing my school work and exploring my interests in the medical field, and I am intrigued by all the information my professors have to offer that expands upon my interests. Although the workload changes from day to day, I have found that the way to offset procrastination and make completing various assignments more gratifying is by forming a schedule for myself.

Therefore, my advice for not only remote learners like myself, but all freshmen, is this: Make a daily list and hold yourself accountable for the responsibilities you have in life. 

The feeling when you check off everything on your list is one of the most rewarding experiences, and it will put that constant desire to procrastinate to rest.

At the beginning of every week, I look at the list of assignments I have due, and I determine how much time they will take and when I want to commit to working on them. I form this list and follow it strictly. 

A majority of my courses are asynchronous. In my case, I tend to watch the lectures on the days that these classes would have been held. You might have a different approach, but the important idea here is that you should formulate a schedule that is right for you and stick to it.

A typical Friday for me starts off when I wake up at 9 a.m., catch up on emails, have my breakfast, and work on some assignments until my live calculus lecture at 12 p.m.,  followed by my general chemistry discussion at 1 p.m. After my two live lectures of that day, I will usually work on reviewing the chemistry I learned that week. 

Normally, I finish this by 2 p.m. This is when my mom calls me down for some pasta and meatballs with her homemade sauce (one of the perks of being remote). After I eat lunch and we discuss our days, I hop back on to my laptop, where I may work on some mindful writing or even on editing one of my Heights articles. 

Unless I have any meetings after this, this is where my school day comes to an end. I find that I am able to be done by my classes early in the afternoon due to what I have been emphasizing all along: maintaining a daily task list and achieving all assignments that I aspire to complete within that day. 

As I said earlier, the key to college is finding balance. And with the right planning, you can find that you have enough time to enjoy both the deep, interesting discussions in your Ecology and Evolution review on Thursdays and the joyous occasion of Facetime Fridays with a friend who lives 2,576 miles away. 

Featured Graphic by Allyson Mozeliak / Heights Editor

October 20, 2020

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