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5 Tips on How to Adapt From Online School to In-Person Learning

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

College students sit in a small rom in desks. They face the left wall that has a projector screen on it. A teacher stands at the front at a podium.

Over a year ago, the pandemic forced us all to embrace life through computer screens. Classrooms turned into Zoom links, and students were becoming increasingly familiar with what is now called “Zoom University.”

After a *stressful* period of adaptation to remote learning, “logging” into class feels more normal than “going” to class. 

With COVID-19 vaccines rolling out across the country, online teaching will soon be less commonplace. The general consensus towards the return of in-person classes is a positive one.

However, some students may feel overwhelmed with “re-adapting” to an in-person environment. After all, it has been more than a year since lectures were held in actual classrooms.

If you are also anxious about the return of an in-person academic life, here are a few tips and tricks I curated during my first contact with going to college in-person.

1. Find a schedule that works for you.  

Due to lockdown measures and social distancing restrictions, I was practically free of distractions. Without the interruption of peers, staying true to a routine was easy and it allowed me to stay focused throughout the week. 

When I moved countries to attend American University, the “no-distractions” zone was gone. I lived across the hallway from an entire community of socially-deprived teenagers.

In other words, it was quite easy to get distracted. (No need to worry. All of said “distractions” took place in a CDC-approved manner.) All jokes aside, I was not nearly as productive as when I was back home. 

After struggling with deadlines and unfinished projects, I developed an hour-by-hour schedule. For example, from 2pm to 5pm I would only do schoolwork, taking small breaks in between. During the rest of the day, I would spend time with my friends or do other activities.

To maintain a balance between academics and leisure, consider an hourly schedule. Being able to visualize my day was helpful when administering the amount of time I would dedicate to each task. 

2. Avoid block classes. 

As much as Zoom University was painful, it allowed students to watch lectures from the comfort of their beds and take breaks with the simple push of a button. As in-person lectures resume, sitting for hours on uncomfortable classroom chairs is the new, but also old, reality.

For that reason, I avoided block classes, which tend to be double the time of a regular class. Block periods require a longer attention span, something I unfortunately do not have, and sitting through lectures for hours straight.

Although this used to be normal, for many students including myself, it has been more than a year since we attended an in-person lecture. Signing up for a block class would make the process of transitioning from online to in-person significantly harder. Thus, I plan on taking block courses after I have had the chance to readapt to in-person academics. 

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3. Take location into consideration. 

When signing up for courses, the location of each class played a major role in arranging my schedule. Studying remotely made it possible for students to arrive at online classes on time by simply clicking a link. You could wake up at 8:08 and get to your 8:10 class without any trouble.

In an in-person environment, on the other hand, it is crucial to consider the time interval between classes and the location of each classroom. With classes on opposite ends of campus instead of just a few clicks away, location is something new to consider.

Because of this, I avoided back-to-back classes as there is only a short amount of time between them. I suggest having the school campus map close by when choosing your courses so you can track the location of each lecture hall and make sure you will have enough time to commute from one class to the next. 

4. Be social and engage with life on campus.

Adapting to a new, in-person environment can be extremely stressful. But always remember that there are thousands of students who are in the same position as you and eager to make connections!

Having a group of people you can rely on is crucial when adapting to life on campus. During times when I was stressed or homesick, my friends were always around and somehow managed to cheer me up. 

Get to know the community around you by joining a club or attending some of the events your school will host. Some occasions may be online, and although it can be hard to socialize and bond with students through computer screens, it is completely possible to find long-lasting friendships through Zoom. I also recommend connecting with upperclassmen as they can give you tips on how to navigate through college and make the most of it

5. Do not be too hard on yourself.

Even with all the tips in the world, it may still be challenging to stay on top of social and academic responsibilities while adapting to a new environment.

Do not be too hard on yourself. You will undoubtedly make mistakes. After all, this is college. It is important, however, to embrace your failures, grow from them, and accept that things will not always go as planned (and that is okay!). 

As I was experiencing the ups and downs of in-person college, I felt the urge to compare my progress to the ones of students surrounding me. I would constantly remind myself that each individual has their own pace when adapting to a different setting. Your classmate may be thriving, but that does not mean you are failing. Keep in mind that comparison is counterproductive and shifts the focus away from what actually matters. 


Although I am me and you are you, and whatever works for me may not work for you, I hope at least some of these tips were useful. I wish you all the happiest and most remarkable return to in-person life. Oh, and do not forget to enjoy every bit of this crazy experience – AKA college!

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Author: Lori Rampani

Lori Rampani grew up in São Paulo, Brazil, but was born in Hollywood, Florida. She is an International Relations student at American University. Lori is passioante about writing, and works for Her Campus at AU. In her free time, she enjoys going to the beach, spending time with her friends and family, reading, and screaming to Taylor Swift songs.