Online or in-person: Advice to incoming students for getting the best out of college

Apr 23, 2022 | Features, JRNL219

Despite the increase of online courses, students have found ways to get the best out of college whether learning from home or at school. And it’s helping them give advice to first-year students next fall.

“Just believe in what you’re doing,” said Isabelle Berardo, a second-year spa management student. Being in a hands-on program, she said it was difficult because of the minimal time she was able to come to school. In her first year, five of her courses were online and one was in-person.

She said her overall schooling experience was affected by the pandemic, but she remained focused regardless – she is weeks away from graduating.

“During the pandemic it was a little challenging during these four semesters,” Berardo said.

“I just kept pushing through, and it was fun.”

Since 2020, students have had to adapt to a new schooling experience because of the pandemic with many courses being offered only online. Students and faculty members say there are many ways to get the best out of college regardless of where the lesson is being conducted.

“Don’t be afraid to up the level of communication and make meaningful communication,” said Terra Ciolfe, a journalism professor.

“Navigating online and hybrid, it can be hard. Even still in person, if you have a question, don’t be afraid to ask it.”

Ciolfe teaches investigative journalism and data journalism – two courses that are heavy in content and require an “attention to detail.”

Ciolfe said that for courses like that, it’s important to find a way to keep organized and to remember to take breaks.

“Pay attention to some healthy ways that you can recharge your batteries,” she said. “The more you know about yourself in that space, the better you’ll be at navigating those really heavy periods with those timeframes and deadlines.”

Cody Dinh, a fourth year civil engineering international student, said that travelling around Toronto was what he did to take his mind away from school. He would travel with his friends he made in class and added that it’s important to make connections.

“Surround yourself with good people and they’ll sort of spring the best of you,” Dinh said.

Emma Posca, a first year Journalism Diploma student, shared the same thoughts. She says that making connections with classmates and teachers is essential to grow.

If a class is online, make group chats, and get to know the upper years who are in the same program, she said.

“Make an effort to get to know everyone around you,” Posca said. “You never know, you might just click with someone that you don’t normally think you would.”

Dinh says it’s important to have fun because “if you don’t have fun, then you haven’t been doing it right.” Whether at home or in-person, he says to enjoy classes, the connections, get good grades, and to be proud of what you are doing – the college experience.