10 tips for academic success right now

“I just can’t concentrate with doing classes online – too many distractions,” said Grant Chastain, an Information Technology student at Orange Coast College.

Many OCC students may have had a hard time adjusting to learning virtually. Studying from home can be impacted by home life, accessibility to resources, and general time-management issues that stem from adjusting to a mostly self-disciplined online learning environment. 

As OCC continues its third semester online, students must learn to adjust in order to pass their classes. Understanding there are tools available to help students succeed can benefit students this semester and provide long term life skills.

Here is a list of available resources and tips that can help boost productivity for school.

Tip #1: Attend an upcoming workshop

The Student Life and Leadership Department has virtual workshops available this month intended to help students perform their work more effectively.  These are the five available workshops this week:

  • Taking Better Notes on Tuesday Feb. 23. 
  • How to Study Effectively on Wednesday Feb. 24.
  • Financial Aid Game Afternoon Wednesday Feb. 24.
  • Manage Test Anxiety on Thursday Feb. 25.
  • Be a Productive Pirate on Thursday Feb. 25.

The calendar and virtual link to attend can be found on the Student Development Calendar.

Tip #2: Get dressed for your day 

A small adjustment that can help one succeed is a change of clothing. Research has shown that putting on a change of clothes can help boost productivity levels when working from home. “Enclothed cognition” is the effect of a person's psychological state through “symbolic clothing”. This can happen by dressing up in more formal attire, selected outfits, or by designating a piece of clothing as a uniform. For example a person can designate a specific sweater as their “study sweater” only to be worn during study hours. The physical experience of wearing a “productivity uniform” is what is most important. 

Tip #3: Create a strong study group

With classes being online, there are even more available resources to set up virtual study groups and support networks for each of your courses. If your professor permits group study, create an online study group for each class. Swap contact info by utilizing tools like Canvas Discussion Boards, Google Hangouts, Discord or even group text messages to create an active study group outside of the required ConferZoom meetings. It’s also a way to stay social and make new friends among classmates. Another option is to visit the Orange Coast College Student Success Center  online for options in creating a virtual study group.

Tip #4: Set alarms and daily reminders

Set alarms for dedicated study hours in the day. Use a daily planner to manage upcoming due dates and set reminders. Trello is one of many free online planners to help you get organized. Don’t forget that you can use a physical “Appointment Book” to create plans for specific hours of each day. 

Tip #5 Utilize tutoring resources

The OCC Student Success Center is still available online for students seeking tutoring. Online tutoring via Zoom is available for math, reading, and writing. All other courses may be available for tutoring upon request.

Tip #6 Attend a guided meditation

Another important work motivator is how well we can handle stress. Learn to destress by attending a free Guided Meditation provided by the Student Life and Leadership Department. Meetings are held every Tuesday from 1:00 P.M. to 2:00 P.M. and led by Linda Salim.

Tip #7 Learn how to use library resources

While the OCC Library on campus remains closed, the OCC Virtual Library provides free textbooks, workshops and educational resources to help students with their classwork and research skills. The next Library Workshop will be held via Zoom on Feb. 24 and will teach students how to utilize the library’s resources, research more effectively, and cite sources properly.

Tip #8 Find privacy anywhere and everywhere

With restaurants and coffee shops being closed for dine-in, students will need to be more creative in finding private spots to study at. Some possible places to study and attend virtual classes include a parked car, a backyard, the park, and a stairwell.

If not having a portable laptop or tablet is preventing you from relocating to a private study area, the Orange Coast College Success Matters Team has a Technology Access Form to help students in need of computer and internet access. This is available during the COVID-19 pandemic and resources are limited.

Tip #9 Treat online classes as you would treat in-person classes

Basic advice for school success include reading the class syllabus, course calendar and taking good notes. Prepare the materials you need for each class ahead of time. Attend class on time, regularly, and ask questions. Communicate concerns to your instructor and peers ahead of time. 

Tip #10 Understand your personal needs

Along with academic materials, you might benefit from considering what “mental materials” you will need to succeed. Make a checklist of personal needs that might help you study harder.  Do you focus better after having a snack or coffee? Do you need to work on your sleeping habits? Does the lighting in your environment impact your mood? Keep track of your personal needs to develop a routine and learning environment that works for you.

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