Back to (Virtual) School Night: Top Questions Answered

We know this virtual fall semester has probably come with a lot of anxiety. So, a couple of weeks ago, National NSSLHA hosted a panel of CSD students and faculty (who are very familiar with the virtual setting) to share tips and tricks to keeping your grades up and stress level down during this new and unprecedented time of online learning.

They shared strategies to stay focused and productive, keep your school and personal lives balanced, and build relationships with peers and professors despite social distancing.

Your Top Virtual Education Questions—Answered!

If you weren’t able to attend this session, we encourage you to check out the recording . . . but we also pulled together our panelists’ answers to your top questions:

What Are Your Tips for Being Successful During Virtual Education?

To watch the student answers to this question, start at the 00:04:05 mark.

  • Have a designated space for schoolwork, but make sure it’s not a comfortable spot like your bed or the couch. You probably won’t get as much work done there! – Chelsea Woodard, MS, SLP Clinical Fellow at Kaweah Delta Medical Center; May 2020 graduate of James Madison University’s online MS SLP program
  • Prioritize your time and stay organized. But don’t just schedule time for your classes and clinical hours, build in designated study hours and time to get away from your screen. – Brandon Roppel, AuD student at Northwestern University
  • At the beginning of each week, make a list of what you need to accomplish and prioritize the importance of each. – Christopher Whidden, undergrad at the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee’s distance CSD program

To watch the faculty answers to this question, start at the 00:34:25 mark.

  • Communication with your professors is key during online learning. Take responsibility for learning materials and then initiate conversations with your professors if you’re unsure about anything. Utilize virtual office hours and come prepared with questions to ask during your regular class meetings. – Allyson Schaff, SLPD, CCC-SLP, lecturer and clinical educator at the University of Houston

How Do You Stay Focused During Virtual Lectures?

To watch this portion of the session, start at the 00:07:45 mark.

  • Turn off notifications on your phone, iPad, and computer so they don’t cause distractions. – Brandon
  • Close your “extra” tabs—only keep schoolwork-related tabs open during lectures and studying. – Christopher
  • Know your levels of distraction. If your desk needs to be clean to be able to focus, clean it off. If your dogs need to be put in another room, do it. You know yourself better than anybody, so do what you need to do to stay focused. – Chelsea

What Is Your Ideal Ratio for Schoolwork and Self-care?

To watch this portion of the session, start at the 00:13:20 mark.

  • Not specific to ratios but write everything down in your planner—even scheduling time to do things like going to the gym and visiting with friends. – Chelsea
  • While mental health is important, make sure your most important assignments and goals are done first, before focusing on self-care. – Christopher
  • Everybody knows their limits for how much they’re able to do before taking time for themselves. The key is . . . try not to reach that “limit” or test out what that limit is. Build in time for yourself regularly so you never reach that point. – Brandon

How Do You Ask for Letters of Recommendation When Classes Are Remote?

To watch this portion of the session, start at the 00:16:20 mark.

  • Get involved in NSSLHA—it’s a great way to meet other students and professors, and it’ll give you an increased comfort level when it comes time to ask for your letters. – Chelsea
  • Schedule Zoom meetings with your professors—ask questions, talk with them, get to know them and form a bond. Don’t be afraid to reach out just because everyone’s stuck behind a screen. – Christopher
  • Utilize your professors’ office hours and take an interest in the professors who share specialties you’re also passionate about. – Brandon

How Can I Connect Socially with My Cohort?

To watch this portion of the session, start at the 00:20:15 mark.

  • Use apps like WhatsApp to build rapport with your cohort. It’s a nice way to stay in touch. – Christopher
  • Reach out to your school’s NSSLHA chapter because there’s probably a lot of great virtual programming going on. Also, set up weekly times for your cohort to meet up. Ours turned into a weekly “ASL Fridays” where we teach each other ASL. – Brandon
  • Try the Marco Polo app to stay in touch with your cohort and friends. – Chelsea

How Can I Prepare to Take the GRE Virtually?

To watch this portion of the session, start at the 00:20:15 mark.

  • Be prepared because it feels a little different. Although there is someone there “live” to proctor the test, you’ll hear them, but never see them. – Christopher
  • Testing centers can be distracting, so it’s actually really nice that you’ll be able to take the GRE in the same spot where you take practice tests. – Chelsea
  • For the writing portion, create your own mini template for the structure of what a good paragraph looks like. This will help you be prepared to “fill in the blanks” once it’s test time. – Brandon

What Are Tips for Deepening Relationships with Professors Remotely?

To watch this portion of the session, start at the 00:39:05 mark.

  • Communicate via Microsoft Teams, rather than email—it’s more conversational. Consider Teams your informal “pop in” with professors. – Dr. Schaff
  • The best way to build relationships with someone is to interact with them. The fact that you’re an online learner now doesn’t change that. Find something to talk to your professors about—whether it’s class, grad school, research, or personal topics. Then, when it comes time to writing a letter of recommendation, we’ll have something personal to share with grad school admissions faculty. – Jenna Silver Luque, PhD, CCC-SLP, instructor and NSSLHA chapter advisor at the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee

How Can I Find Virtual Research Opportunities?

To watch this portion of the session, start at the 00:50:30 mark.

  • While opportunities may be more limited right now, you can still do surveys, literature reviews, grammaticality judgments, etc. If the research isn’t reliant on a lab or a special population, you can still find opportunities. Start by looking within your university and professors. – Dr. Silver Luque  

But Wait, There’s More!

Be sure to watch the full recording of this session where you’ll hear more from our panelists about virtual clinical practicum, telepractice, and more!

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