Back to School: How to navigate school in the post-pandemic world

Shane Lowe
4 minutes reading time
October 17, 2021

To tell you the truth, I’ve had very few obstacles in the autumn of 2021. I am in my seventh semester, and fortunately, I was able to develop a strategy out of the complicated courses I’ve taken in the past to make matters flow smoothly in times like these. It is also beneficial that my course load is relatively light this semester. I’m taking two percussion courses and classes on ethics and minority literature, business information systems, the Christian New Testament, European History in the 20th century, and human resources. Everyone has their own system that works well for them, but in case you’re in search of any tips, I’ll tell you a bit about mine!

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Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

My laptop is the most important thing I take with me to every class, minus the percussion courses. I run a Windows machine using NVDA, and it saves me a miraculous amount of time. For me, it’s the most efficient way to reference texts in Ethnic Lit, take 25 single-spaced pages of notes in Euro History, and take quizzes and complete assignments quickly in every class. The foundation of this value to me is a solid knowledge of computers and screen reader usage. I am fortunate to have learned from an incredible teacher since I was very young: shout out to Dr. Hume! I can’t stress how vital practicing these skills can be, especially since I’m now able to complete simple homework assignments before I even leave the classroom. While the professor is taking the time to answer a few questions, I’ve already started working, saving lots of time.

I know many who would prefer to use their phone, a note-taker, or even the slate in classes, and that’s completely fine as well. The goal is to find whatever works the best for you and stick with that until you can be as efficient as possible.

However, there are some areas where my laptop can’t cut it. If you’re an avid reader of our blog, you may remember my tax accounting course from the spring of this year. It was a nightmare. The text book contained so many graphics that I couldn’t read two paragraphs without being interrupted with a caption. In most cases, the caption applied to a different image from five pages earlier! The critical resource that got me through Tax Accounting was a tutor. I absolutely completed every assignment on my laptop, but the tutor was able to help me skim through the book to find information in minutes that it would have taken me literal hours to reach on my own. Many colleges have their own tutoring centers, and I am incredibly fortunate in that ours is free. A good relationship with disability services is also helpful since our DS coordinator recommended me to the tutoring center. Thanks to them, I was able to get an A in the course, by 0.004%. I promise I was more shocked when I saw that than you are right now!

Finally, it really is helpful to make friends. I thought it was a myth too, but hear me out on this! I am definitely the type of student to make friends with my professors. For my first couple of semesters, I was so busy with other projects that I didn’t put in the effort to make friends on campus. I thought I had all the friends I needed, and that was okay! However, in my current experience, it’s a lot more fun to have text conversations about assignments with your friends than it is to email a professor about them.

For me, the most challenging part of finding friends at college was knowing who to sit near. The way I rationalized this was that if I was sitting near someone I knew was like-minded, I could start up a conversation that would lead to a fledgling friendship! However, for months in my early semesters, I would sit next to people who weren’t really interested in classes, or books, or thinking at all. I would move to sit in an area where the small-group discussions seemed livelier, but sometimes those spaces were full, or I’d sit on that side of the room only to find that through some unspoken agreement, everyone who gave a damn was sitting on the other side that day. It was like that for a while, but eventually, I made it to the desk near the right people, and it was definitely worth it!

Each of these-your friends, mentors, and technology has different values but is integral to post-secondary success. If you have any questions or would like to know more about any of these, always feel free to reach out in the comments or by email. You can find me under the address

Good luck!

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