3 Random Things I've Learned from a Virtual Spring
Despite my inability to spend my first spring term on Dartmouth's campus, being a Dartmouth student at this moment in time, with so much global clamor for change and with the future in flux, has taught me a lot about my own habits, strengths, and weaknesses. In many ways, being at home during this moment of time has allowed for me to work along an even more liberal schedule than is possible on-campus, which has given me a lot of time to simply reflect. By just being a virtual student, making the grind work virtually, I've ended up teaching myself how to study effectively, how to make the most of spare time without being conventionally productive, and really learned more about what being a student means and why your standards should stay constantly rooted in your surrounding reality: give yourself and your projects room to grow, and you'll love seeing them blossom — isn't that what spring is about?
The best part of learning is the process, not the product.
I think when we're on campus, under normal terms, we're constantly focused on really specific objectives. We use grades to evaluate our progress and aptitude, and too often our study habits become based around recitation rather than understanding. The way my professors have adapted their classes for a Credit/No Credit virtual term has helped me truly appreciate what understanding feels like. To be able to comprehend the material and ask questions about new ideas I've had just from reading or listening to course content without the pressure of a grade has helped me change my perspective on learning itself.
It's too easy to forget that at school, we're aiming to learn for learning's sake, and your professors are trying to inspire you by sharing their own love for scholarship. I understand now that Dartmouth as an institution looks for people who share that passion for learning. When you apply to college, or when you arrive at college, just remember to show what makes you passionate about learning itself.
Being organized is a superpower.
And at home, it's really, really hard. In my case, with seven younger siblings all doing their own schoolwork and my parents busy completing our move into a new house, it was a definite challenge to learn at home in spite of social-distancing rules. That being said, creating a fairly flexible routine to study, do work, and find time to read (for pleasure) and re-re-rewatch Avatar: The Last Airbender was the only way I could simultaneously preserve my sanity and fulfill my student obligations.
It's a mix of taking time for yourself and getting work done. And maybe a fair dose of complaining to your friends over Zoom, Facetime, or in-game during a study break.
There is nothing more powerful than a playlist.
Maybe I already knew this, but seriously, there must be some psychological study that backs me up on this. I created a study playlist, and every time I study, I turn it on. Whenever I have this playlist in the background, with my headphones on, I have the power to read for my classes without picking up my phone. I can't recommend this enough.