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Adapting to online learning

In these times, we must learn to use our strengths and address our weaknesses.  Things are different, but what stays the same is our ability to learn to stay engaged, and to take personal responsibility for the things which we can impact most.

Most of all, we want you to know that you are not alone. Please contact any of the ASP staff if you need help. You can find us on our Contacts Page.

Learning in Changing Times

Many people are now asking themselves the question: “How do I survive as an online student?”  Thanks to COVID-19, our current schooling situation is less than the ideal.  Included in the list of challenges is the lack of social contact, lost jobs, and the difficulty of adapting to online school.  

For nontraditional-aged students, the list grows even larger in dealing with children and
their schooling as well as being a working professional at home.  Regardless of circumstances, however, many individuals are also trying to sort out the mental health challenges that come as a result of current circumstances. 


Thankfully, Utah State University has developed resources to aid students of all backgrounds in these difficult times.  Among them are:
  • Online Resources for Students:
    • An entire web page with guidance on how to start this journey, including links to different up-to-date sources of information.  There are webinars, articles, and much, much more. Consider this your first stop in making the transition!
  • Study Smarter Kit:
    • Developed by the Student Success Programs, this page details more specifics on how to improve as a student.  There are videos and articles about time management, test preparation, textbook reading, and other pertinent topics to student success.
  • IDEA Sheets:
    • Also built by the Student Success Programs, these small articles delve deeper into the implementation of the skills overviewed in the Study Smarter Kit.  Filled with various worksheets one can do on their own time, everyone is certain to find something helpful here.

A Few Useful Tips 

On the off chance that time is short, and an in-depth overview of the above resources is not realistic, here are a few practical thoughts on how to adapt culturally to the online world.

Time Management

Managing time without scheduled classes and appointments can be challenging.  Many people find that the greater responsibility of online classes takes a heavy toll on one’s sleep if not dealt with correctly.  There are several ways to remedy this problem: 

  • Do class work during the originally scheduled class time. If your previously face-to-face class met at a certain time every week, block out that time on your schedule to watch lectures, do homework, and ask questions to the professor.  Having a dedicated space for each class will increase your ability to focus on and complete the required coursework.
  • Create a weekly calendar.  Even during times of social-distancing, we all have lives.  Whether it be dinner, exercise, or video-conferences for work, there is plenty to be done.  Take a few minutes at the beginning of each week to decide when each of these activities need to be accomplished.  Once finished, you will then know what time you have for relaxing, and when you need to buckle-down and get to work!
  • Prioritize your activities.  Consider making a list of everything that you will be spending your time on.  Label each item as either less or more urgent in addition to its importance to you personally.  While some things are important, they do not have to be finished this instant.  Discover what needs to have your attention, and then make sure it finds a place into your afore-mentioned calendar!  Schedule the time and get it done.

Self Care

Ultimately, we need to recognize that this is a difficult time to live in.  Amidst all of the craziness, it is important to recognize that we cannot work at the same level that we did before.  New circumstances prompt different challenges.  It is okay (and necessary) to take some time for yourself!  Whatever it is that helps relax you, ensure that it makes its way into your schedule.  Whether it be going for a daily walk, painting, or playing Guitar Hero, prioritize that time. 

There are lots of great ideas about what to do with that time.  Starting a new hobby can be both intellectually stimulating and help to shake up the normal routine.  In addition, serving others could be an excellent way to look beyond yourself and help lift another.  Delivering cookies to a doorstep or writing a nice note to a neighbor are just two of many good options that still remain well within social distancing guidelines. 

Regardless of how one chooses to approach self-care, Utah State’s Counseling and Psychology Services office has also developed an outstanding web page devoted to mental health and dealing with “virus anxiety”, found at  The “CAPS COVID-19 response for clients” tab found at the top of the page has the latest details on how one can get in touch with and receive those services. 


Let’s face it- we have all had a misunderstanding with at least one person during the recent pandemic.  For students and professors alike, it is naturally more difficult to correctly understand each other's thoughts and opinions online.  It takes a little more effort to do electronically, but it pays off immensely in the end.  Key tips to communicating well include: 

  • Be honest with your professors.  In the end, professors have no way of knowing how you are doing unless you tell them.  If you do not have consistent access to the Internet, they would have no way of distinguishing you from another student who simply chooses not to turn in assignments unless you let them know.  Many students have found their coursework to be increasing- not decreasing.  If you feel you are currently struggling, or think you may struggle in the future, tell your professor. Check the class syllabus to see how your professor prefers to be contacted. Many professors are happy to communicate with you through email or on Canvas. Reach out and be very clear about your circumstances.   

If you are a working parent with children, let your professor know what you can and cannot do.  Find a way to kindly inform them of your situation and ask if there is an alternative route to finish the course without adding an extra load to it.  With this additional understanding, your professor will usually be more than happy to look into different options. 

Watch this video posted by Utah State’s Academic Success Programs to learn about communicating successfully with professors at Utah State University.  

  • Reach out to your advisor.  An academic advisor’s full-time job is to help students succeed on their path to graduation.  Outside of solely providing information on classes and degree completion status, they have access to a wealth of knowledge about student support resources, how to contact a counselor, or even how to receive accommodations for different classes. They can inform you about what options you have as a student in the current state of affairs. You can email them or set up an appointment. Look up your advisor at and ask them your questions!  They are ready and waiting.

Online Exams

Another important part of online school is learning to take exams online.  For some students, it will not be that large of a transition.  There are others, however, who may have never taken an exam on a computer.  An often-used tool for these exams at USU is called Proctorio.  It monitors students as they are testing and provides details about it to the professor.  To become more familiar with the application, follow the attached link: