Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Tips for Summer Semester success

After spending the past few months adjusting to remote or online learning, this summer semester 2020 could feel like “same song, different verse” but with one big exception: You are now an expert at online learning!

But to make things go smoothly here are a few tips to keep you on the road to success:

Make it your space

Create a “school” space: Let’s face it, remote or online learning is not the same experience as being in a classroom. While some of us may be challenged by the transition because we prefer classroom settings, the new format doesn't have to impact your ability to learn. Here’s how you can adapt to make your cool school space work for you: 
  • Lower your expectations for how fancy this space needs to be. Most of us are not working from a fancy home office. 
  • Be creative with your options - think repurpose and resourcefulness. Crates to support your computer monitors or a stable stack of unused books can make the space more comfortable. 
  • Make sure that you find a space that is quiet and well lit. We recommend natural light during the day if possible. 
  • If quiet is not an option, plug in those headphones for maximum focus. 
  • Make sure you have enough outlets so you can keep your laptop and phone charged. There’s nothing worse than a battery dying while you’re turning in that essay at 11:55 pm! 
  • A desk and comfortable chair or lapdesk make balancing school work much easier. Don’t have a desk? Get creative, use an empty dining room table or take over a kitchen countertop. Bring in a foldable table from the garage - we know a few school staff and faculty  who’ve done all of the above.
  • Add your personal touches to the space. Perhaps a small plant (real or fake) and desk decor (repurposed of course). And small toys can be a welcome distraction when you are, um, um, um, searching for the right word!
  • Need supplies? Connect with free stuff groups on Facebook for a no-contact pickup or ask friends or family. If challenged by lack of technology, reach out to your instructor to connect you with our Basic Needs Coordinator who can connect you to resources for students with a variety of needs.
  • Set aside time every day to work on schoolwork. Consider blocking time on your calendar or putting up a sign on your door not to be disturbed so you can focus on your learning. 
  • Once your work is done, get out of that area, close down the shop for personal or other business. If you need to do other work on the computer, try to move to a new area after your study block. 

Eat to win

Fuel Your Brain: While our on-campus options are closed to keep everyone safe we suggest that you make sure you are starting your day with a good breakfast. Your brain can’t concentrate if your stomach is hungry!

We recommend applying these tips, shared by Rutgers University, for eating while studying:
  • Don’t skip meals because of classes and work. Plan your meal breaks, they are important. When in a rush, grab a protein or granola bar or a piece of fruit.
  • Stock up on healthy options rather than junk food. This will reduce the temptation around you. 
  • Be careful what you drink. Avoid unnecessary sugar or caffeine. If you are thirsty, drink water!
  • Choose foods rich in protein and simple sugars to keep your blood sugar levels relatively stable. 
  • Eat from all food groups. The more colorful the plate, the better. And think portion control.
  • Fruits and vegetables should be 50% of your daily consumption. They have natural sugars which the body processes more readily to keep you on the path to health and learning.

Check out www.eatright.org for more details about constructing a healthy diet.

Get me Tech Support!

Leverage tutoring and computer lab resources: Get acquainted with the level of support that's available for tutoring services. You'll find that our learning centers offer appointment-based support even if you aren’t on campus. Here are just a few of the questions they can help you with: 
  • Calculus got you down? Feeling like all those physics equations have you flying off into the wrong vector? Math tutoring is here to keep the numbers orderly.
  • Maybe you want to be the next Hemingway or Delia Owens. The tutoring center can help your sentence structure sing.

And don’t forget, if you need tech support to navigate your transition to remote learning, the computer lab team is available to walk you through any concerns. You can reach them here for virtual assistance with the following: 
  • If you are having trouble accessing Canvas, MyITLab or any other learning resource.
  • Help with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Access, Google Meet, Webex or Adobe products
  • Need help resetting a password, zip files, connecting to WiFi, uploading documents and general computer support.

Healthy mind and body

Keep your mind and body healthy:  Even while practicing social distancing you can stay healthy by walking, running, stretching or following our weekly #workoutwednesday videos. As our summer heat moves us all indoors, these free videos will get you moving. Studies have shown that working out releases brain chemicals which can keep your mind healthy as well.

If you have COVID-19 related concerns, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers tips as well.

While your brain isn’t a muscle, you can still make it stronger. Here are a few positive mental health tips from the University of Michigan Health Service:

  • Surround yourself with good people. Strong family or community connections can lead to a healthier you.
  • Volunteer your time in a socially distancing responsible way. Helping others can help you feel good.
  • Practice coping skills like journaling, taking a walk or finding something funny to laugh about. Laughter truly is the best medicine.
  • Break up your routine. Doing the same things at the same time can lead to monotony. So stimulate your brain with a different route for your walk or plan a trip for your post-COVID time!

In addition to physical activity and mental health recommendation, CGCC offers assistance to currently enrolled students with identifying difficulties, problem-solving, and decision-making processes related to academic, career, and personal goal achievement. Our counseling faculty do not provide mental health services on campus but can assist with referrals to appropriate community providers as needed. Schedule a phone-based appointment to benefit from support with: 
  • Counseling for academic concerns (time management, college transition, etc.)
  • Goal setting and personal support
  • Career counseling
  • Support during a crisis
  • Resources to help you stay in school
  • Advocacy for students
  • Referrals to campus and community resources 

Put power in the palm of your hand

Scroll over to these mobile tools to make your academic life easier: COVID-19 has taught us all the need to embrace technology to adapt and (hopefully) make life a tiny bit easier on ourselves. There are two key apps we recommend you download and leverage often. 

Canvas is your daily space for communicating with your instructors, accessing your courses, downloading and submitting assignments, and taking quizzes. Your instructor will also leverage Canvas to provide you with assignment feedback. This key resource is available for desktop use here - but convenient for mobile use as well. Here’s a quick tutorial to get you started on becoming a Canvas pro-user. Download the mobile app on Google Play or App Store today.


On MyInfo, you’ll most often use your Student Center on a monthly or semester basis. There you can access your class schedule, outstanding charges and grades. You can also check out your Advising Notes and Degree Progress Report, as well as regularly update your Personal Information Update.  You can see your class schedule, financial aid status, messages, textbook information and more. Download the mobile app on Google Play or App Store today.

Slow down

Take it easy:  Many of you are holding jobs and/or parenting in addition to studying. While you're running from one thing to the next, whether it is your coursework to your job or caring for your family, we recommend you schedule some time to slow down and unwind. Even a 10 minute mindfulness break can help. Here a few ways to slow down: 
  • 2 - 5 - 10 minute meditations: The Calm App is now offering free options for anyone during COVID. 
  • Talk a walk around the block. 
  • Sit out on your patio. 
  • Listen to your favorite playlist. 
  • Call a friend to vent about your homework. 
  • Write a letter to a loved one. 
  • Write a gratitude list. 
  • Spend some time petting your pets (they’ll always be grateful). 
  • Dance like nobody's watching (trust us, it feels great). 
  • Sit still and do absolutely nothing for 15 mins (feels like heaven). 
  • Watch one of your favorite shows (but beware of binge watching past that deadline).
  • Take a long bath.
  • Color or paint. 
  • Read a few chapters in the book you keep by your bedside.

Ask for help

We’re here to help in any way we can. Not sure where to start? Here’s a quick tip sheet to help you locate the best resource to fit your needs. When in doubt, reach out to your instructors - they want to help you succeed and can connect you to specific virtual resources.

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