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Guest blog: Managing study during the current crisis

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A guest blog written by Bryan Cranston; Swinburne Online Lead Unit Coordinator for Politics and History.

The unprecedented health and social situation that we find ourselves presents lots of challenges to studies, but also opportunities.

University study is hard work and stressful, and studying online presents its own challenges because it requires increased dedication to self-management and time management. Many students have had to manage studies while dealing with increased external pressures such as extra work, loss of work and/or income, home schooling, societal and emotional stress, and managing isolation. With our world in turmoil, how do we maintain focus with studies? Here are several strategies that may help you managing your studies during the current crisis.

Think of your studies as a job. An assessment deadline is akin to a boss giving you a deadline for a task, and meeting that deadline is part of the challenge of the task itself.

Related to that is developing good time management plans and practices. Time management is an essential skill but is often one that many of us struggle with. One way of enacting good time management as an online student is to think of your studies as being no different if you were studying on campus, face-to-face. Set yourself ‘class times’ each week, in which you will work through your modules and learning materials, do your readings, and engage with the discussion board. Allocate yourself separate time to work on assessments; don’t equate learning and assessment work as the same thing – one is about you gaining and understanding of the topic, and the other is about you showing your knowledge. You cannot skip the first or do them at the same time.

Identify your assessment due dates then develop a schedule working backwards. Aim to have your task finished two days before it is due, so you have time to check it. Look ahead to when you have finished your degree and are being interviewed for your dream job. A prospective employer may ask you to provide an example of your ability to meet challenges – juggling work, study and family is one example. How you managed those conflicting priorities, and the strategies you enacted to meet your demands, are an example of meeting challenges.

With so much doom and gloom it’s easy to become anxious and feel helpless, frustrated, or overwhelmed with the world. Turn off your TV and social media and give yourself something else to focus on – your studies. You will feel better and have more time with just one day a week of no social media.

Above all, reach out. Ask for help. Do not suffer alone or in silence. You might develop anxiety and become stressed over what you think is a major issue but is in fact easy to resolve. “Many hands make light work” is not just a saying, it is true, just as “a problem shared is a problem halved.”

Remember, your teaching staff are going through the same thing that you are; we are all in this together, and it is important to stick together.

Above all, be kind to yourself and those around you.