19 Questions in COVID-19: Tips for Online Learning Success

Kari Schueller Lopez, CAS Director of Academic and Student Affairs, Shares Insight on Navigating the New Normal

By Max Moore

Kari Lopez, CAS director of Academic and Student Affairs.

2020 has been a whirlwind for students and faculty as Michigan State University continues online learning for the fall semester due to COVID-19. We’re adjusting to living in a world where having efficient Wi-Fi- may reign supreme over self-care. As students, we may not have a good study area, necessary technology, and may struggle academically. Plus, we’re fatigued and restless from the abuse our eyeballs have endured from strenuously staring at screens.

CAS Director of Academic and Student Affairs, Kari Lopez, understands that adjusting can be a difficult thing and sat down with The Brief to share her simple tips for ways Spartans can navigate the new normal.

“Set a schedule and stick to it. Put in time for everything including meals, exercise and make sure to schedule time to rest and have fun, too,” said Lopez.

As a full-time employee, full-time Ph.D. candidate and mom, Lopez says it’s critical to be proactive and responsible to survive. Scheduling time for fun can help students avoid burnout and making lists can help students see what they have accomplished.

After completing her master’s and Ph.D. in higher education administration from Michigan State University, Lopez stressed how helpful it is to take advantage of academic resources – from seeking out department or degree-specific resources like the AD+PR Creative Center, to simply connecting with your professors.

“Turn on your cameras! Seriously, can you imagine how hard it would be to lecture to 50+ people, but you can’t see their faces and they aren’t responding to you, and you have no idea if your students are confused or bored or need help,” said Lopez.

Setting appointments, attending virtual office hours and not waiting until the last minute are other simple things students can do to succeed this semester and beyond. And while they may not be content experts, academic advisors can also help struggling students. Depending on the course, students may have access to tutoring services or study groups. MSU IT Services and the D2L Helplines  are also great resources for technical issues.

“My stress is typically sourced from feeling overwhelmed or behind at work or at home,” said Lopez. “The first thing I do is I try to get things done – even small things – and that makes me feel better. I would also like to exercise, talk it out with my husband, or, if the stress is unmanageable, I seek professional help.”

Stress comes and goes unexpectedly, so as students, let’s prepare ourselves to battle adversity efficiently when times of tension arise. These are just some strategies to help students stay clear-minded and motivated this semester.  And if stress becomes too much, consider seeking help through MSU’s Counseling and Psychiatric Services.