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It’s a cliche at this point to say that the pandemic altered the way we live our lives. College and high school education were hit the hardest, alongside many other fields of society. Students everywhere stopped taking classes in classrooms and started taking them in their bedrooms. Teachers had to completely reformulate end-of-the-year units and activities. And though we all crossed our fingers and hoped for the best, the last year of education has been spent primarily online as well. With this change came a myriad of side effects and habits — sleeping through a Zoom lecture, skipping assignments due to burnout, sitting with the camera off and trying to interact as little as possible. After a year’s worth of these habits, even the most diligent students might find it hard to adapt to an in-person environment again.

First and foremost, it is important to note that if it takes time for you to adjust to in-person classes, that’s more than okay. It takes time for the brain to adapt to a new environment, especially after a pause in the social interaction that many students are used to. Some may find in-person classes draining as well; again, this is more than okay. Prioritize your mental health, but try not to skip classes or discussions if you can help it. To combat this burnout, acknowledge that you need time to reacclimate to so much action. Keep a planner to track assignments or due dates, and try to keep your mind awake in class by taking plenty of notes, no matter what the course is. Your future self will thank you, and your present self will be grateful for some mental stimulation.

For some, however, fall quarter seems too soon for in-person classes, fearing the stress that comes along with them. If this sounds like you, take a deep breath. You are not alone in this sentiment! If you can’t fathom taking an in-person class so soon, when registration comes around, make sure that all your classes are listed as online. UCR has ensured that many classes will be offered online, as well as in-person, meaning you can get the comfort of continuing to take online classes and reacclimate at your own pace.

Given this, however, it should be noted by universities that some folks simply are not ready to switch back to in-person classes. Indeed, some 73% of students prefer some courses to be fully online anywhere because they can fit it around their work schedule or life schedule much easier. Universities shouldn’t be so quick to simply ditch online classes as soon as we shift towards in-person learning; there can be plenty of value in allowing students to take their classes online if they so choose. 

For everyone who is raring to go in terms of getting back on campus; however, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Even the most excited for interaction can face burnout after a year away from this environment. Prioritize your mental health and try not to beat yourself up if you have some difficulties. If you’re struggling, utilize campus resources like the Academic Resource Center, tutoring programs and professors’ office hours to help set you up for success.

The switch to in-person learning will not be as easy as just walking into a classroom. The mind will take a little longer to transition into an in-person mental space, and there is nothing wrong with that. Be kind to yourself, stay organized and seek out help if you need it. Doing so will result in a strong start to the quarter, no matter what type of learning environment you’ll be thriving in.

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