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What I Learned Attending College from Home for a Year

By Adonia Barbiere, Project Coordinator, Spring 2021


It’s been a year since I and countless others were sent home from college due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Reflecting on this challenging past year, I’ve learned a lot about myself, my goals and relationships. Moreover, the experience of attending college during the pandemic has brought a new perspective. Here are five things I learned attending college from home for a year.


This is weird for you -- and your parents. 

At first, it felt like an extended spring-break. But, as a college student, my life completely stopped. At first, living at home felt extraordinarily strange. I had to explain why I was up at midnight working on assignments, followed by friendly reminders to “Get more sleep.” You’re going to get into disagreements with your parents. I hadn’t lived at home in two years since high school. I’ve built my life along with new quirks and habits while away on campus, and they’ve developed routines in my absence. In short, yes, your parents should give you some understanding and grace, but you’ve got to give them some too. 


Make an effort to stay connected with your friends. 

It's very easy for me to tune into schoolwork and ignore some text messages here and there. I would tell myself I was too busy to talk on the phone or set up a zoom call. But living at home, especially when your friends are either on campus or across the country, can make you feel disconnected and isolated. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to check on your loved ones. Whether it's sending a text or having a Zoom dinner date. We should set aside time for the people who matter, and you’ll feel better having done so. 


You must change up your work environment and take breaks. 

As you might expect, working at a desk three feet from your bed isn’t easy. To keep your productivity up and idleness down, switch up your work environment! Now, I start out the day at my desk, but in the afternoon, I head over to the living room or dining room table to continue my work. Struggling to focus? Set a 20-minute timer and try to get as much work done as possible. Then, set a five-minute timer for a break to scroll through your phone, grab a snack, or stretch. More times than not, I’ve found myself in a reliable workflow, repeating the timer and continuing for longer. Although it was more comfortable when the temperature was consistently above 30 degrees, get outside a little bit each day. I take daily walks with my dog while listening to music on Spotify. You’ll feel better after some fresh air and movement to help clear your mind. 


Don’t pause your personal or professional goals. 

I was lucky enough to have an internship on campus that transitioned online with the pandemic. Even though it felt like time stopped, I knew that role would be up at the end of the year. It was more important than ever to find ways to get involved with organizations on campus or check for internships. Although they may seem distant, there’s so many remote opportunities. There might not be typical networking events, but it’s easier than ever to connect with professionals you admire over virtual coffee. There are a plethora of online professional development events, webinars and certification courses just a click away. 


Try to organize your life but be flexible to change.

When virtual learning first began, I created a daily schedule I would follow religiously. Similarly, on campus I had a particular schedule that happened organically around my courses, commute and extracurricular meetings. Trying to replicate that routine in a year that has been anything but planned, wasn’t working to make me feel more organized. If anything, it provided more restraint than comfort.  Not every day is the same. Sometimes you might need more time to write that paper, a new task might suddenly come up, or maybe you just need that extra hour to sleep in. Routines don’t always equate to organization. Instead, I put more energy toward customizing a planner electronically on Notion. I input all readings, exams, papers and tasks from each course for the entire semester. Now, I adjust and plan my daily schedule based on the week and take each day on as it comes.

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