3 Ways the Pandemic is Making Your Life as a Grad Student Easier

    Posted on Thursday, Nov 12, 2020
    Embracing Online Classes Amidst a Pandemic
    Being a parent and pursuing a graduate degree is hard. In many ways a global pandemic makes it harder. Like many of you, for the first nine weeks of my semester I juggled supervising virtual schooling, managing my home, and participating in my own classes. I lost sleep. I turned in some assignments that were sub par. I won’t minimize the stress of each of those difficulties. But there are some up-sides to this brave new world, especially if your graduate program has enabled you to continue studies in an online format.
    Taking Electronic Notes, Oh So Advantageous!
    I know there are multiple reputable studies that sing the praises of taking notes by hand. But typing my notes during class has been key to surviving the rigors of law school as a busy parent. If I had to retype my notes, no one would ever eat a warm meal at my house! And if I had to rely on my handwritten notes to review for the bar exam next year I would be sunk—I can barely decipher my handwriting the next day. In my all online courses this semester, I have been delighted that many of my professors are fully embracing the online format. They are sending some really great synopses and other electronic materials that can be dropped directly into my notes or outline. I even paste links leading to helpful resources and videos with helpful explanations.
    Another really great benefit of the online format is screen grabs. Remember when you were in an in-person class and your professor would put up a slide with 10 billion words on it, or a dozen complex diagrams? I would always grab my phone and hope no one yelled at me for snapping a photo rather than trying to recreate the whole slide on the spot in my notes. Now with the entire class on a computer screen there is an even easier, and more discrete way to get that image. Print screen, screen grab, screen shot—it’s called various terms depending on your device. But no matter the terminology, learn how to do it on your device. When those wordy or image-based slides come up, you can take a screen grab and drop it right into your notes.
    No Commute
    There is really no need to elaborate on this one. When the world was normal and no one had heard of COVID-19, I chafed at my long commute to law school and back every day. I had all sorts of tricks to maximize that time (that will be an upcoming post—once we go back to commuting). But being able to sleep, exercise, or even just stare at the sun for a few extra minutes each day has gone a long way in helping me feel less frazzled. I struggle a little to keep up with the news since I’m not in the car as much, but the trade-off is well worth the sacrifice. Besides, I’m a mom of four in law school full time—the world’s problems are just going to have to wait. Duh.
    Taking Advantage of Recordings
    The coolest professors record their lectures. There, I said it. Pandemic life is unpredictable and full of so many new challenges. If your professor gives you access to class recordings, don’t skip class. And definitely don’t sell them. But do download the recordings. Listen again on walks. Listen while doing laundry or making dinner. Recordings are also really handy for reviewing complex topics. If you have access to recorded lectures don’t waste that precious gift—exploit it (in terms of grades—not anything else).
    Alright, so now you’ve spent a few minutes of your day reflecting on some of the up-sides of pandemic realities. If more come to mind, drop them in the comments. I would love to hear them, and the time spent in gratitude is good for us all. Stay well. Stay strong.

    --Emily Malden

    Emily is a doctoral student in the School of Law

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