01-04-2020

We are now over the 15 day point of our enforced lock down and many of us are hoping that the end is in sight no doubt. I am sure that there will be many negatives from the experience we have all faced but I personally am trying to also find some positives that have now become habits from being 'forced' to do things a different way.

One of which is making the effort to video call my daughter, stuck in London, rather than the easy option of a quick WhatsApp. Seeing her face each day does make me smile and we have been able to rekindle our debates that we loved so much when she lived here on the island.

During one such discussion we began to talk about the issues my own personal business is facing; students being confined to their homes, cancellation of examinations in May/June and no face to face tutoring being delivered for the foreseeable future. We discussed how this all will impact financially and mentally upon the directors, tutors and our employees. Not to mention the mental health of the student themselves.

I asked Grace to consider her position and she very kindly offered to write this week's article from her perspective; a young and concerned student.

My name is Grace Staley and I am a journalist student at the University of Westminster, London. All my classes have been transferred online and all campuses have been shut down.

This was a massive shock to the system and definitely disrupted my routine and timetable. At first, I thought this is great, no more going to university! Not having to wake up for my 9am lecture! Wow my dreams have come true! We are in an unprecedented, distressing time for every single one of us. Things shutting down, not knowing exactly how long it is going to last, worrying about our family and friends. It is a very scary time of our lives.

With thousands of schools and education centres closed worldwide and exams being cancelled, both parents and students have many unanswered questions. What will happen to my child's education? How will I get into university? Will I ever take my exams? What does this mean for their future? When will schools re-open?

The situation we are in is so new to all of us; politicians, ministers, teachers, lecturers and even students are lost and have no answers. We are floundering a little to say the least.

However, as students there is something we can do to help ourselves and others.

Initially I felt that my daily structured routine was destroyed. I was out of sync with everything. I knew I couldn't spend the next few weeks without a purpose and therefore decided to put a stop to it immediately. Structure is essential, I knew it didn't have to replicate my habitual day, but there had to be clear boundaries between learning and relaxing.

So I said to myself, ‘Don't shrug your shoulders, don't give up, pick yourself up and deal with the situation'.

As part of my normal routine, I had been receiving face to face support on a weekly basis from my mentor. This one to one meeting took place at the university in order to help me through my studies and therefore to succeed in every possible way.

As our teaching moved to online, this meeting was no longer able to take place. Work was 'sent' to me and I was expected to work even more independently. So how did I deal with the situation?

Firstly, get rid of temptation

● Define a space for "work" and don't mix that with where you "play". Ensure that the work space is efficient, clean and tidy. Encourage work only activities to take place there, no additional conversations or interruptions. The same principle applies to the laptop. Once concentration has been broken - by checking emails, for instance - it takes 15 minutes to get back into the "work" state of mind.

Turn off all social media, email and any notifications that crop up to grab your attention.

Secondly, work with restrictions

● Make a contract with yourself to work for 45 minutes without interruption. You'll be amazed at how efficient you can be, knowing that you only need to power through a short space of time before you can take a break. However, it is important to get started quickly, the hardest part of any piece of work is usually the start so if you get past this stage, things will only get easier.

Thirdly, work with only a limited period of time

● Map out how long you think it will take to revise all the content of an exam, or how long it will take to write up all the various sections of an assignment. Having a plan and appreciating how limited your time is will help spur yourself into action.

Even with a plan you may feel that the task is too big. Use the plan, breaking each task into manageable chunks. A detailed study plan with times, dates and activities is a great base and the feeling of achievement when you tick off a daily task is amazing. Keep it in a prominent place and discuss it daily.

I also made sure that my mentoring sessions carried on, but this time via a Skype call. This way I was able to carry on with my sessions and I wasn't putting a stop to my progress.

I decided to do this because we will get back to normality at some point, whenever that may be. Educational requirements will still be expected and will be as rigorous as before.

So, look around, search for methods to progress and consolidate the work you have received from your education centre or school. There are enormous amounts of opportunities that will allow you not only to execute your studies but also to grow as a student.

If you need help, personal tutors, will guide you in the right direction and find a suitable learning style in order to continue developing your knowledge.

So, from one who knows don't give up, carry on with your work and find a suitable method that will lead you in the right direction.

As students we have to work together as we are the future of this generation.

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