More than surviving: How can I thrive in my online college life?

Freshmen are confronted with rigorous academic requirements on top of the challenges of online learning. Yet, they can thrive in online college life as long as they have the right mindset, flexibility, tools, and initiative to ask for assistance. 

Here are some helpful tips from Mapúa University’s faculty to help students navigate the online learning space.

 • Familiarize the school’s learning system. Most universities have dedicated learning management systems (LMS) allowing students access recorded lectures, reading materials, coursework, and collaborate with classmates, and consult instructors. As a new user, it may take a while to get accustomed to the interface, but familiarizing yourself with the LMS allows you to maximize its capabilities and learn efficiently. 

• Maximize online learning tools and resources. There are perks in studying in an institution that has advanced learning resources and technologies. At Mapúa, 19,000 e-book titles from McGraw Hill, Wiley, and Cengage are available to all students. Mary Christine A. Tomas, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, encourages students to “always access, utilize, and take advantage of these” to help them overcome the challenges of online learning.

Various software is also offered for uncommon and program-specific requirements. Engineering and programming courses use matrix laboratory software or MATLAB for computations, data analysis, algorithm development, graphs, and other applications. Design students use AutoCAD for drafting designs. While programs focused on writing and research gathering use grammar checking tools and plagiarism scans. 

• Strive to become a self-regulated learner. Dr. Jasmin Nadja J. Pinugu, program chair for Behavioral and Human Sciences of Mapúa’s School of Social Sciences and Education, emphasized how effective time management affects learning. Students who regularly plan, direct, monitor, and adjust their learning environments to meet their academic goals practice self-regulating behaviors. Students with set schedules learn more effectively and prevent feelings of helplessness, being overwhelmed, and burnout. 

• Look beyond the online classroom setting and focus on your class. The pandemic has forced teachers and students to be physically apart. At Mapúa, most learning sessions are done synchronously and have specific schedules so all students can participate. Engr. Ericson D. Dimaunahan, Mapúa’s director of Center for Teaching and Learning–Learner-Center, Outcomes-Based Education and faculty member of the Physics Department, explains that students who miss a synchronous class need not worry as sessions are recorded and accessible online. 

Students of fully online and asynchronous programs under Mapúa UOx (Ubiquitous Online Experience) also have access to recorded lectures as part of their learning resources.

• Reach out. Some students may feel isolated or overwhelmed during their online studies. On these occasions, they should never hesitate to reach out to classmates, instructors, parents, and friends. Pinugu stressed that touching base with people you trust or social supports can help dispel negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.  

• Keep the dream alive. It’s inevitable for students to encounter a speed bump or two in their online school journey. Pinugu advises students to focus on long-term goals and work on them as early as freshman year. Online learning can be so fast-paced making it easy to lose track of targets and a sense of time. 

Online education may be challenging but students with a full grasp of the intricacies of remote learning has an edge. A solid school support system that addresses mental health and academic needs also helps learners remain driven and successful in achieving the goals they have set for themselves.

Topics: Online education , Ubiquitous Online Experience , learning management systems , Mapua University
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