Quotes in blue from Michele Mannering, PhD, of Myers Park Pediatric Psychology
Many students took their first dive into virtual learning last spring and quickly realized that it’s not always a walk in the park. Though it seems like the easier option in theory, learning virtually can make it incredibly difficult to stay motivated and engaged. ”It’s important to learn about your individual profile as a virtual learner: How long can you pay attention before you find yourself drifting off? Is the speed of instruction too fast or too slow? Do you feel more fatigued in an online platform versus in-class instruction? If something is particularly challenging or does not seem to be working, speak up! Something may need to be tweaked or modified so that students are able to learn in a way that makes content easily accessible and understandable.” Keeping these things in mind, we’ve compiled some tips and tricks in hopes of making your life a little easier this fall.
Adding Structure to an Unstructured Day
Though you’ll be in your house for your schooling, it can be extremely beneficial to treat every day as if you are leaving the house and physically going to school anyway. Try your best to create a flexible routine in which you wake up around the same time everyday, go through your morning routine (this includes getting dressed), eat a healthy breakfast, and go to class. The most important thing here is to designate a quiet, comfortable place, preferably not in your bedroom (and definitely not in your bed), where you can take your classes from a computer. “Sleep is especially important these days. We are required to think through so many different things at all times that it is fatiguing. Further, worrying because of uncertainty can disrupt sleep or cause insomnia. Maintaining healthy practices around sleep, such as physically separating where you sleep and study, is really vital during these trying times.” Furthermore, you should strive to practice active listening during class through note taking or other strategies. If you find yourself losing focus often, it can be helpful to keep a water bottle and some healthy snacks near you when you’re taking classes in case you need an energy boost (but always make you’re muted when you eat or drink!). Organizing virtual lunch breaks with your friends can also be a great way to break up the monotony of the day. All of these simple steps will make it much easier to stay focused, motivated, and organized throughout the day.
There’s something about learning virtually that can trick your brain into thinking that the stakes aren’t as high as they are when you’re physically at school. Getting organized can help combat these effects while keeping motivation high and stress at bay. Getting a physical calendar/planner and writing down due dates, deadlines, and daily homework assignments can help you visualize your week and what needs to be done during it. That being said, flexibility is key. “You want to have a schedule and be organized, but there also needs to be some flexibility. There may be days where you are simply too tired or distracted to tackle all that needs to be done. Prioritize the absolute must-dos and schedule other things for when you have more mental space to get them done.” Simply keeping your bedroom and “classroom” physically organized can also help you stay motivated and avoid distractions during class. If you find yourself falling behind, don’t panic. You can always email your teachers for help or meet with them one-on-one to discuss strategies for how you can catch up and stay caught up.
Being Aware of Your Mental Wellbeing
Sitting indoors all day by yourself doing nothing but schoolwork would drive anyone crazy, so it’s a good idea to be hyper-tuned in to your mental health in the coming months. As stated above, a flexible routine is a great tool for success in school and a stable mental health. Furthermore, you can open windows and turn on lights while you’re indoors, go outside everyday to sit, read a book, or go on a walk/run, consistently take any medications that have been prescribed to you, stay hydrated and eat healthy, try to organize virtual or safe in-person hangouts for you and your friends, and, perhaps most importantly, communicate with your friends and family (especially in regards to your mental wellbeing!). If you find yourself in a bad place mentally, it’s a good idea to see a counselor, through your school or otherwise. Most importantly, “don’t beat yourself up when things go wrong. We are all learning as we go, and there are bound to be bumps along the way.”
Getting Out of the House (Safely!)
We know it can be totally maddening to stay in the house all day everyday, so don’t resign yourself to that option. There are still ways to leave your home without endangering yourself or others. Something as simple as going to the grocery store for your parents can provide mental relief. Going outside to exercise is also always a great idea as it gets you out of the house and gets endorphins flowing that will improve your mental state. Some places around Charlotte are even offering outdoor, socially-distanced exercise classes. Furthermore, our article “Volunteer Opportunities During Covid-19” details many community service options that are still available both virtually and in-person during these crazy times. Participating in an activity like these or interning/working somewhere has the added bonus of expanding your resume and showing to colleges that you went out of your way to participate in activities that you are interested in or that benefit your community during the pandemic. If you are currently going through through the college process, you can also check out our articles “Colleges in the Southeast That Are Open for Independent Self-Guided Tours” and “Colleges in the Southeast That Are Still Hosting In-Person Tours” for lists of schools you and a parent can drive to visit to get an idea of the different kinds of colleges out there. Finally, it is beneficial to your mental health to have contact with people your own age so, if you and your family are comfortable with it, try to organize outdoor, socially-distanced hangouts with your friends. For example, a picnic can be really fun. If you are not comfortable with seeing people in-person, try to organize facetime or zoom calls with your friends instead.
Garrett Educational Consulting, LLC is a full-service, academic consulting firm based in Charlotte, North Carolina. With over twenty years experience in education and counseling, Katie Garrett guides and supports students and families that are navigating important academic decisions. Services include all aspects of academic advising, comprehensive college planning, independent day school consulting, and boarding school application guidance.
Garrett Educational Consulting
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EdX is a non-profit created by founding partners Harvard and MIT. We're bringing the best of higher education to students around the world. EdX offers MOOCs and interactive online classes in subjects including law, history, science, engineering, business, social sciences, computer science, public health, and artificial intelligence (AI). We partner with a variety of institutions to offer credit-eligible courses.
Build skills with courses, certificates, and degrees online from world-class universities and companies. Start streaming on-demand video lectures today from top instructors in subjects like business, computer science, data science, language learning, & more. Choose from many options including free courses and university degrees at a breakthrough price. Learn at your own pace, 100% online. Apply what you learn with self-paced quizzes and hands-on projects. Get feedback from a global community of learners. Whether an individual course is accredited or offers credit towards a degree, depends on the course and the university. All the universities that provide courses on the Coursera platform are accredited. Many also provide degree credits but check the course description and FAQ to be sure. Coursera itself is not accredited by CHEA, but many of the courses on their platform are. Coursera has five different types of certification programs. These are:
The world leader in gifted education since 1979, Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth is a nonprofit dedicated to identifying and developing the talents of academically advanced pre-college students around the world. We serve bright learners and their families through our research, advocacy, and counseling, as well as our signature gifted and talented summer, online, international, and family programs.
CTY students comprise the most promising minds of the next generation. There are more than 165,000 CTY alumni around the world, including the founders of Facebook and Google, Regeneron Science Talent Search winners, Rhodes Scholars, and MacArthur Fellows. At CTY, bright students have the chance to participate in challenging educational opportunities they won’t experience anywhere else. Just as important, they’ll find a safe, welcoming circle of peers, mentors, and teachers who understand advanced students. And they’ll make lifelong friends who share their passion for learning. CTY Online Programs courses have the designation Supplementary Education Center/Program: Fully Accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Malone Schools Online Network https://maloneschoolsonline.org
The Malone Schools Online Network provides motivated, upper-level students at participating Malone Schools with a variety of academically challenging courses beyond what would normally be available to them. These interactive seminars bring students together from across the United States with dedicated teachers in real time. MSON joins the best of independent school education with the latest video conferencing technology to chart new territory in online learning. Accreditation??
Bay Area Blended Consortium https://www.blendedconsortium.org
The Bay Area BlendEd Consortium was founded in 2013 by The Athenian School, The College Preparatory School, Lick-Wilmerding High School, Marin Academy, and The Urban School in order to jointly offer a set of blended classes combining face-to-face and online instruction. As the ways we teach and learn continue to be influenced by the use of digital technology, The BlendEd Consortium combines demonstrated best practices for online learning with our schools’ proven strengths in direct classroom instruction and experiential learning. By creating a blended model, where students access the curriculum and teachers online as well as through regular face-to-face meetings, we help our students prepare for the changing methods of instruction and communication they will see in college and in the workforce while preserving the core relational culture that lies at the heart of our schools’ educational missions. Students receive credit on their home school transcripts for all Consortium courses.
One Schoolhouse https://www.oneschoolhouse.org
With an understanding for the individuality of students, One Schoolhouse provides students with a coeducation and independent online education, personalized to each student. Classes at One Schoolhouse are designed for each student to find success. We do this by personalizing the student learning experience, inspiring students to gain new skills and competencies, and supporting students by giving them the best independent school teachers and partnering with their schools. Fully accredited with the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools & the Western Association of Schools and Colleges through December 1, 2025.
Global Online Academy https://globalonlineacademy.org
GOA’s mission is to reimagine learning to empower students and educators to thrive in a globally networked society. GOA is a humanizing force in the digital future of learning. Education is changing, but its people still matter the most. Are accredited by a regional independent school association or international equivalent. Are enthusiastically supported by their head of school and administrative team to be members of Global Online Academy
We are K12, empowering high-quality, personalized learning. We make the most of technology to support inspired teaching and interactive curriculum, so students can learn in the ways that work for them. Over one million students have chosen K12-powered schools. K–12 students can take charge of their education with a combination of online and in-person learning.* K12's personalized approach is for anyone—no matter who or where you are. K12 is an AdvancED-accredited corporation meeting the highest standards of educational management. AdvancED is dedicated to advancing excellence in education worldwide through accreditation, research, and professional services. Additionally, K12 Network schools are accredited by a wide variety of respected accreditation bodies.
Florida Virtual School (FLVS) provides flexible online school options and develops engaging online curriculum used by families and schools around the world. Whether you live in Florida or beyond, you can access more than 190 courses with us, from Algebra to AP Art History and everything in between. Our courses are real—just like the certified teachers who teach them. Public, private, and homeschool students from Kindergarten through 12th grade use our courses to succeed on their own time and schedules. FLVS, the district and its schools are accredited by Cognia and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI).
Stanford University Online High School https://onlinehighschool.stanford.edu
Offering courses for grades 7–12, Stanford Online High School is a highly selective independent school, where dedicated instructors help talented students worldwide pursue their passions in real-time, online seminars.
“Under the umbrella of one of the most competitive universities in the nation, Stanford OHS is a private independent school that offers a rigorous college prep program. Stanford OHS serves academically gifted students in grades 7–12. Students are up against tough competition for admission to the program. Stanford OHS offers over 24 post-AP and university-level courses and more than 65% of the faculty members hold doctoral degrees in their fields. According to the school’s profile, their student mean SAT score is 1500 with a mean composite score of 33 for the ACT.” (50 best online). Stanford OHS is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Score Academy https://www.wcpss.net/scoreacademy
SCORE Academy is dedicated to re-engaging students in the educational process to ensure they graduate from high school with a clear path to post-secondary options and the tools to navigate societal demands. SCORE Academy A provides structures and resources for students aged 16-21, with at least 12 credits, to return to school and earn credits towards graduation. Students will receive a quality education in an accelerated, blended-learning environment. Through targeted interventions and social/emotional training, SCORE Academy students will graduate with post-secondary choices, employability skills, and coping mechanisms to face adversity. SCORE Academy provides a flexible learning community for students and seeks to provide a challenging and useful curriculum that meets the needs of a variety of students despite their ability, environment, and unique challenges of their circumstances. SCORE Academy focuses on the needs of students employing professional teacher support to guide, assist, and motivate them using the best available instructional technologies. Score Academy is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI)
Avenues Online https://www.avenues.org/aon/
One school with many campuses (on three different continents), providing transformative, world-focused learning experiences to students around the globe. We will graduate students who are accomplished in the academic skills one would expect; at ease beyond their borders; truly fluent in a second language; good writers and speakers one and all; confident because they excel in a particular passion; artists no matter their field; practical in the ways of the world; emotionally unafraid and physically fit; humble about their gifts and generous of spirit; trustworthy; aware that their behavior makes a difference in our ecosystem; great leaders when they can be, good followers when they should be; on their way to well-chosen higher education; and, most importantly, architects of lives that transcend the ordinary. Unknown Accreditation.
Dwight Global Online School https://www.dwight.edu/dwight-global-online-school
Originating from Dwight Global Schools Network, Dwight Global Online School teaches students grades 7-12 through its is an accredited online independent school. DGOS is a blend of live class meetings and tutorial sessions personalized for students and supports programs such as IB, AP courses, and Spark Tank Program. Accredited by Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Laurel Springs School
Laurel Springs School’s online program is designed for students who wish to grow and excel academically and personally while maintaining a flexible schedule. Our personalized approach is competency-based and asynchronous, meaning students have the opportunity to progress through material at a pace that honors their individual skills and knowledge. This approach also allows students to adapt their schedules to accommodate outside interests. We also offer rolling enrollment, which allows students to begin work at any time of the year. We are proud to offer a diverse College Preparatory curriculum that allows students to meet academic requirements for graduation and prepares them for challenges they’ll face in college and at the career level. Laurel Springs offers online and text-based course offerings that are supported by a caring teaching staff that works closely with each student to ensure a full understanding of course material. Laurel Springs strives to meet the highest standards of excellence, and we are proud to be accredited by Cognia (formerly known as AdvancED) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Connections Academy https://www.connectionsacademy.com/#
Connections Academy is a tuition-free full-time online public school for grades K–12, with schools located in communities across the country. At every grade level, students take core courses in math, science, language arts/English, social studies, and electives, and work from a state-approved, high-quality curriculum with support from certified teachers. The goal? To prepare your student for college and career success. Connections Academy is a division of Connections Education, which is accredited by Cognia, formerly AdvancED.
North Carolina Virtual Academy (public) https://ncva.k12.com
North Carolina Virtual Academy (NCVA), an online public charter school authorized by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, will work in partnership with you to awaken the joy of learning in your child. North Carolina Virtual Academy is CITA-accredited.
Obridge Academy (private) http://obridgeacademy.com/our-school-6-12th-grade/online-high-school/?gclid=CjwKCAjwmMX4BRAAEiwA-zM4JuASbLmQrL7ciTt2J1LL59DUnF9cUzuhDK5QC8h9iyhBrsMKlJp_yxoCUPAQAvD_BwE
Obridge Academy is an accredited online school that provides a premier online learning experience that honors each child’s individual learning style and educational needs. Obridge offers a challenging course of study for students in sixth through twelfth grades, with college prep academics, and Honors opportunities. Our philosophy of education respects each child’s gifts, talents, and learning style. At Obridge Academy, students enjoy personalized, one-to-one teaching and learning that is not often found in a home school setting. Obridge Academy is a private online school accredited by AdvancED.
The Keystone School
The Keystone School offers flexible education programs for grades K–12 that help each student achieve their unique goals. Courses include full-time and individual courses ranging from credit recovery, to world languages, to Advanced Placement. The Keystone School is accredited by Cognia and Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools' Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools.
Columbia Business School https://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/execed/programs-for-individuals/online
Columbia Business School Executive Education provides executives from across industries and sectors with the tools, frameworks, and learnings needed to lead and excel. Designed for high-impact business leaders, our offerings include over 60 non-degree, open-enrollment programs in leadership, strategy, finance, and marketing — available in person or online — as well as multiple certificate paths and custom program opportunities. Accredited by AACSB.
Client Evaluation/Online School Placement Chart. (From the IEC conference)
Linkedin Learning provides short, informal courses on various topics and skills.
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