As many students return to college or start their studies at university for the first time this month, we want to provide some reassurance and advice for students who may feel nervous about starting their course during a pandemic.
Here, we’ve collated some advice and guidance for our students about what they can do to make learning during a pandemic as seamless as possible. Let’s get started:
Remember your safety basics
This has been a year like no other and being in a pandemic means that your experience as a student will be different. It’s natural to have concerns about staying safe and questions about how restrictions will impact on you as you start college or university.
If you’re unsure of what the procedures will be, the first thing to do is check your college or university website or information that has been sent to you. At The College of Animal Welfare, we’re doing all we can to continue to provide quality education to ensure students can make a successful and seamless start to their courses this year. To keep up-to-date with all of our COVID-19 updates, activities and policies make sure you visit our COVID-19 page.
Additionally, make sure you stay informed about the latest government advice and remember your safety basics: wash your hands regularly, wear a face covering in enclosed spaces and stay at least 2 metres apart (or 1 metre with a face covering or other precautions.) Visit the government website for updates
Look after your mental health, ask for help when you need it and understand what support is available
As a College, the wellbeing of our students is at the forefront of everything we do. So, we want to make sure that in this time of uncertainty, you still feel supported and know that we are available to offer you any guidance we can.
All staff and students can now access free online mental health and wellbeing support through Togetherall (previously called Big White Wall). This service can be used at any time of the day or night, all year round.
Whether you’re suffering from stress, problems with sleep, feeling low or unable to cope, or simply need someone to talk to, Togetherall can help you get support and learn useful coping strategies to improve mental health and wellbeing. The service enables members to get things off their chest in a safe, anonymous global community. You can access a library of self-care resources and trained professionals are online 24/7 to keep all members safe and provide extra support.
The college will not be informed of those who are signed up to Togetherall or activity on the service unless they are seriously concerned about safety whilst on campus. To join, go to the Togetherall website and sign up under ‘I’m from a university or college’ using a staff or student e-mail address.
College counselling services
In addition to this, we offer a confidential counselling services, with free sessions for students on an ongoing basis (the college is not made aware of any appointments made). The College counsellors are still available via phone, email or video conference:
- Tel: 07925 852 985
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tel: 07905 611 591
- Email: email@example.com
Mental health resources
- Mental Health Foundation – Looking after your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak
- Mind – Coronavirus and your wellbeing
- Mental Health England – Supporting your mental health while working from home
- Samaritans – If you’re worried about your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak
- Vetlife– Mental health support and financial assistance for the veterinary community including veterinary nurses and students
- Living Well area on CAW VLE
Meet new friends and connections, even if virtually
Part of the joy of college or university is studying with like-minded people and making friends for life. So, when socialising is legally restricted, it’s only natural to worry about how you’re going to do this. However, learning in a pandemic doesn’t necessarily mean learning in isolation.
At The College of Animal Welfare, we will endeavour to provide some face to face and online tuition during the autumn term and potentially into 2021, whilst maintaining social distancing requirements. In the meantime, we have prepared a range of appropriate induction activities to help you settle into college life and meet your new classmates.
Additionally, our new online virtual classroom software offers lots of interactive features which means you can engage with your tutors and peers in real-time during teaching sessions, for example through sharing of emoji icons, polling, and breakout rooms. Our lecturers provide remote academic support, such as small group meetings and learner reviews. This means there will still be plenty of opportunity to make new friends and enjoy the interaction that makes college such an exciting and rewarding experience.
Remember to stay connected to existing friends and loved ones too
Starting university or college can be nerve wracking, and starting during a pandemic can present more challenges than usual. So, it’s really important to stay connected to those who care about you, and can support you when you need it.
Make the most of online learning
You can make the most of online learning by participating actively in online discussions and group activities and offering your input into lessons. You can also the text chat facilities if you’re more comfortable expressing yourself in this way.
At The College of Animal Welfare, there is plenty of opportunity to get involved in your course and build friendships with your classmates. Connecting with your classmates on social media or our new online virtual classroom software, will help to boost your e-learning experience.
Online learning offers many unique benefits, however it’s important to be mindful of your behaviour online. Make sure you maintain a polite tone, be respectful when discussing topics with other members of your online group, and always write in clear sentences to avoid misunderstandings.
Take steps to stay motivated and happy learning from home
It can be challenging to maintain the same levels of motivation while working or studying at home, compared to if you were at work or college. That’s why we’ve put together some tips to help you stay focused while working at home:
- Have a designated space for your college work that is free from distraction and has all the materials you need to study with ease. You could also decorate your study space with inspirational quotes and pictures to boost motivation.
- Keep in contact with your tutors and fellow students to discuss your college work and help each other with problems and concerns you may be having.
- Make sure you take regular breaks and take the time you need for self-care and boosting your mental and physical wellbeing (for example, take time out to eat a proper lunch and do some exercise such as a walk).
- Come up with a study schedule that works for you and takes into account your responsibilities, for example your virtual lessons or tutorials.
- Accept that you won’t always have productive days, and sometimes tasks are best left for tomorrow.
- Stay in routine as much as you can. For example, waking up and going to bed at the same time on weekdays as you would if you were going to work or college can help to add consistency to your daily routine.
- Set yourself a to-do list, or create a timetable to help add structure to your day. Having clear goals can also help you to stay focused and motivated with the work you’re doing.
Embrace change and stay positive
Learning during a pandemic will always present challenges. More so than ever, it’s really important to embrace change, remain positive and reach out for support if you need it. If you are worried, unsure or have any questions about how your course is progressing, don’t hesitate to make contact with your college or university to help put your mind at ease.