7 Online College Resources to Take Advantage of During a Pandemic
With the closing of thousands of schools and universities as a result of COVID-19, the need for online resources available to students has never been greater. COVID-19 has caused a significant disruption in the world of education, but it has also challenged many institutions to improve the online resources they make available to students off-campus. Here are just a few to look out for when studying for your next exam and adjusting to new learning curriculums this semester. All resources listed below should have online formats provided by your institution.
1. Academic Advisors
No matter where you are in your college career, it’s always a good idea to check in with your academic advisor at least once a semester. Especially with many schools transitioning to online or hybrid learning, a quick meeting with them can make sure that you’re on track with your program and realigned in your academic goals.
If you’re unsure of your major or next steps after graduation, an advisor can help you explore your background, academic interests, and professional goals to see what options are best for you. They serve as your gateway to many other school services such as tutoring, counseling, and career services if you need it.
2. Career Services
Contrary to popular belief, career services are not limited to juniors and graduating seniors! Starting early shows both your school and potential employers your commitment to success and can help you get your foot in the door for future positions.
Most schools have a list of job openings and internships for students via platforms like Handshake. They can also provide valuable projections on the job prospects in your major, expected entry-level salaries, and industry updates amidst COVID-19. With the switch to online learning, many schools now offer virtual job fairs to bring potential employers to you. They’re available to conduct mock interviews, resume building workshops, and portfolio or cover letter guidance sessions as well!
Career counselors often serve as the liaison between current students and the alumni network, allowing for students to nurture ongoing mentoring relationships with experienced professionals in their industry of choice. Alumni often participate in informational sessions with students, offering insight on the day-to-day nature of their work and can also provide insider guidance on educational requirements, job prospects, and earning potential in their field.
Whether you’re looking for a full-time offer or don’t know where to start, career services can help you create a game plan on how to achieve your goals well beyond college.
3. Financial Aid Advisors
Just because you’ve received your grants and loans for the upcoming year doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use this resource. Additional financial assistance and budgeting has been created for students struggling as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19. Many institutions receive need-based funding from the CARES Act due to COVID-19, which can potentially pay off tuition entirely. You may qualify for scholarship money that you aren’t aware of!
Even if you don’t think you’re going to qualify for aid, filling out the FAFSA and applying for financial aid should be on every student’s to-do list. If you’re confused about the process, checking in with your financial aid office can clear up any questions you may have, whether it be about work-study, loans, scholarships or something else entirely. They’re here to steer you in the direction of loans with the lowest interest rates and make college as affordable as possible, so take advantage of this!
4. Health Center
Your school’s health professionals are available to meet virtually to help diagnose physical ailments and prescribe medications regardless of whether or not you have any classes on campus this semester. They can give access to things like free or discounted health care or cheaper prescriptions as well.
While your health center is here to help with physical illnesses, they also offer many counseling services which can be especially important for students struggling with finding a school and life balance, keeping a daily routine, or adjusting to the new normal that COVID-19 has brought on in higher education. Available to schedule meetings by phone or video, they can offer a comforting ear to listen and help students cope with symptoms.
If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed by school, a mental health counselor can direct you to relevant resources or work with your instructors to create an accommodation plan. Mental health professionals can also offer support for nonacademic issues that may interfere with your classroom performance, such as loss of employment, depression, or the death of a loved one.
5. Writing Center / Tutoring Services
Nearly all university programs provide tutoring services to students at no additional cost. Most offer in-house tutoring in all core subjects. Some institutions also host online databases and learning services to allow students 24/7 access to academic assistance, especially for those juggling work, family, and other personal obligations. Group tutoring is an option, too, for those that learn better with collaboration and discussion exercises.
Regardless of your major, writing assignments are an integral part of the college experience. Writing advisors work one-on-one with students, providing help on how to write a persuasive essay, conduct research, and appropriately cite academic sources. Writing centers generally have an online resource for students. For example, your school’s writing center may host detailed guides on grammar, formatting, and citations for a paper. If your online program doesn’t have this, you can still find many guides on these topics and more at the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL), one of the most comprehensive sources of online support for writers around the world.
Although many public libraries are closed for the time being, their online options are still active and accessible. Your library may offer various search databases that you’d otherwise have to pay for, not to mention magazine subscriptions, which can be helpful in conducting research for essays, reports, and other assignments.
If you’re unable to access the library resources provided by your school, other online resources are available to help you succeed such as Internet Archive, which offers access to free books, movies, software, and more from libraries around the world.
7. Professors & Peers
Communicating with professors when you’re struggling to adjust to new learning curriculums or class structures can make a huge difference in your academic performance. Most professors have office hours and allow you to make an appointment to meet with them. They can help create a game plan for you to master content and earn the grades you need. It may be intimidating to ask, but they’ll be happy to offer tips and strategies, career advice, and even point you in the direction of capable students and/or study groups.
Your peers are here to help, too! Although you most likely can’t meet in person, one of the most rewarding aspects of college is the level of collaboration and interaction you experience with classmates. These connections can even lead to job opportunities later on. Ask peers in your classes to connect on LinkedIn. If you’ve worked together on class projects, they can write you a recommendation to push you further in your professional career.
It’s a time of adjustment for everyone, your university included. While we all try to navigate through this time, it doesn’t hurt to get a little help from your school. You may even find that you prefer online learning! Studies show that students retain 25-60% more information online than they do in a classroom. The point is, online university resources are out there to help you earn that 4.0 GPA this semester, you just need to look for them.