You had your first taste of life at Kenyon and began to fall in love with your new home, and just like that, you had to leave. Not being at Kenyon is tough, especially when you’re losing that sense of independence you were so proud to achieve. But, all is not lost. Your semester spent as a remote student may not be what you had originally expected, but there are ways you can make it a much more positive experience. As a senior with plenty of Kenyon on Zoom experience, I feel that I can share with you some tried and true tips for remote learning. I won’t lie, I have failed to do some of these myself. But that means you can learn from my mistakes!
- Keep in touch. The Kenyon community is more than just our little campus on the hill. If someone at the registrar’s office just helped you fix your schedule, send an email thanking them! Keep your favorite professors updated on what classes you’re taking, what types of dogs you see walking past your window or anything at all. I can guarantee they’ll be thrilled to hear from you — it’s better to over-communicate than to under-communicate, and no one will be annoyed at you for emailing them too much (just give them at least 24-48 hours to respond). Plus, you’ll find bits of Kenyon wherever you are — check out ways to stay connected through online Kenyon activities, virtual events and meeting Kenyon people in your city.
- Follow a schedule. Try to wake up, eat your meals (including breakfast) and do your homework and housework at roughly the same time every day. You may feel like you’re Bill Murray in ‘“Groundhog Day,” but that’s just part of the fun! Don’t do what I do and start cooking yourself a full meal at 11:30 at night. It may sound silly, but sticking to a schedule will really help you stay focused and have control over your day.
- Get enough sleep (at night, not during the day). Coming from someone who has a tendency to become fully nocturnal, I know how hard this can be. You’ve finally managed to get in bed by 11 p.m., and suddenly it’s 4 a.m. and you’re on Zillow gawking at houses in upstate New York with crown molding and stained glass windows. Do your best to keep your phone out of your room, or at least away from your bed. Yes, I know, you need your phone for your alarm, but c’mon. We all know that excuse. Also, try not to take too many naps — I went through a phase where I’d fall asleep every night while watching the news and wake up two hours later in another dimension.
- Stay organized. Keep your Moodle pages bookmarked for easy access, print out your syllabi, keep a planner and always make a to-do list. Google calendar — a built-in part of your Kenyon email — is also great, especially if you’re like me and need extra reminders about upcoming assignments and meetings.
- Ask for help when you need it. You might feel lost, but there is always a Kenyon support system ready to help you. Whether it be needing an extension for an essay, finding some mental health support or just feeling that you’re struggling academically, there’s no shame in asking for help. If you ever don’t know who to contact, reach out to your advisor and they’ll be happy to guide you. Regularly attending your professors’ virtual office hours will make it much easier whenever you need a hand and will also be a fun way to get to know them! If you can’t make their times, email them with your schedule and ask if they have any other times they can meet. More likely than not they’ll be happy to accommodate you (just make sure to give them an extra big thank you). Meeting with my professors this past semester was my favorite thing to do during remote learning and really made a difference for me.
- Take care of yourself. Try to set aside a bit of time each day to relax. Do a face mask, re-read “Pride and Prejudice” for the 50th time or take a bubble bath! The options are endless, though I’d personally recommend watching “You’ve Got Mail” and drinking chamomile tea with honey if you’re feeling particularly out of sorts. It’s a proven remedy. Above all, your mental and physical health is of the utmost importance. Try to do some yoga or take a walk every day, and always check in with yourself about how you’re doing. Many students struggle with remote learning, and that’s ok. You’re living through a pandemic and attempting to have a remote college experience, so cut yourself some slack. No one will think less of you.
- Get creative. Being away from your friends is hard, but there are always neat ways to recreate your favorite Kenyon activities. Schedule coffee dates over Zoom to recreate your hours spent hanging out in Wiggins “doing homework.” Spend a million years picking out an outfit to wear to the bullseye (aka your kitchen table). Have fun with it!
We all know that remote learning is not ideal. I won’t lie to you, it’s definitely hard at times. You never thought that you’d be doing college from home, and you may feel like you’re regressing to the mindset of a high schooler. Personally, I ran out of mozzarella cheese one night and nearly cried. But that’s ok! You’re going to be great. We are all rooting for you!
Bryn Seltzer ’21 is an English major from Needham, Massachusetts.