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More than surviving: How can I thrive in my online college life?


College is a different world from senior high school with a bigger set of demands and rewards. For students who have just started their freshman year, now faced with more challenging academic requirements on top of the challenges of online learning, getting through their first year might seem daunting.

Student life may appear to be tougher than it was compared to pre-pandemic times, but to thrive in online college life, is very much possible. The secret to this includes having the right mindset and proper adjustment, knowing the tools you can use to your learning advantage, and knowing when and where to ask for assistance.

Three of Mapúa University’s top faculty share some useful tips to help students navigate the online learning space this academic year.

  • Familiarize oneself with the school’s learning system. Most universities have dedicated learning management systems (LMS) where students can access lecture recordings and reading materials, download coursework, collaborate with classmates, and consult instructors. As a new user, it may take a while for you to become accustomed to the interface, but familiarizing yourself with the LMS features will enable you to maximize its capabilities and learn efficiently.

  • Maximize the online learning tools and resources. There are perks in studying in an institution that is way advanced in terms of resources and technologies for learning. It is important that students learn to use and explore them to fully maximize their features to gain support in their online schooling. At Mapúa, 19,000 e-book titles from McGraw Hill, Wiley, and Cengage are shared with students regardless of the program. However, there are also various software being offered for uncommon and program-specific course requirements. Engineering and programing courses are backed with the matrix laboratory software or commonly known as MATLAB. This is required for computations, data analysis, development of algorithms, and creation of graphs and other applications. Design students also use AutoCAD for drafting designs. Programs that are heavy on writing and research gathering also have tools for grammar checking and for instant plagiarism scan. Mary Christine A. Tomas, the director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, encourages students to “always access, utilize, and take advantage of these” to help them overcome the challenges of online learning.

  • Strive to become a self-regulated learner. Students who can regularly plan, direct, monitor, understand, and adjust to their learning environments to reach their academic goals practice self-regulating behaviors. Dr. Jasmin Nadja J. Pinugu, the Program Chair for Behavioral and Human Sciences of Mapúa’s School of Social Sciences and Education, emphasized how effective time management affects learning. When students set and stick to a schedule, they learn more effectively and prevent feelings of helplessness, being overwhelmed, and burnout.

  • Look beyond the online classroom setting and focus on your class. Although the pandemic has forced teachers and students to be physically apart during classes, there’s still room for interaction in online classes. At Mapúa, most learning sessions are done synchronously and follow specific schedules, so students can technically participate in class. Another advantage of online classes is no learner is left out. Engr. Ericson D. Dimaunahan, Mapúa’s director of Center for Teaching and Learning–Learner-Center, Outcomes-Based Education and faculty member of the Physics Department, explains that their students have nothing to worry about if they miss a synchronous class because of faulty Internet connection or sickness, as each learning session is recorded and accessible online. Students have the opportunity to watch past lectures as part of their review for academic assessments. Students of fully online and asynchronous programs under Mapúa UOx (Ubiquitous Online Experience) also have access to lecture recordings as part of its learning resources.

  • Reach out. It’s not uncommon for students to feel isolated or overwhelmed in the course of their online studies. On these occasions, they should never hesitate to reach out to and ask for help from classmates, instructors, parents, and friends. Dr. Pinugu stressed that touching base with people you trust or social supports can help dispel negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

  • Keep the dream alive. It’s inevitable for students to encounter a speed bump or two in their online school journey. No matter the obstacle, Dr. Pinugu advises students to focus on their long-term goals and work on them as early as their freshman year. Online learning can be so fast-paced that it’s easy to lose track of targets and a sense of time. Challenges or difficulties should also be seen by learners as opportunities to re-strategize and refocus on their dreams.

Online education may be projected as being extra challenging. However, by understanding the conditions and circumstances of remote learning, one can develop an edge in traversing this new kind of school environment. It is key that students get a solid support for both their mental health and academic needs from their institution, for them to remain driven and for the successful achievement of the outcomes they have set for themselves.

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