For many students – not only at Missouri Southern but across the country – the sudden transition to the world of online classes has put them in unfamiliar territory.

There’s a learning curve as many adapt to new technology, time management and communication issues during this period of social distancing.

How best to navigate this new terrain? We turned to two members of our Lion family for some advice and tips you might find useful: Emma Willerton, a junior who is triple majoring in management, marketing and HR with a minor in international business; and Dr. Susan Craig, chair of the Teacher Education Department.


Craig recommends sticking to your regular class schedule.

“If you had a class from 11 to 11:50 a.m. Monday-Wednesday-Friday, use that time to do the things needed for that class,” she says. “Allow your schedule to become fluid and the day can get away.”

Block out time for each of your classes, including any online meetings, tests and study periods, Willerton says. And don’t forget to schedule some time to relax and unwind a bit.

Most importantly, abide by the schedule you make for yourself.

“It’s important to stick to the schedule so you don’t get lost,” she says.

Keeping track

Write down all class assignments, quizzes and discussion boards and mark them off your checklist as you complete them.

“It’s a way to keep track of what you’ve done and what you still have to do,” says Willerton. “I also know students who prefer to put their assignments and due dates in a calendar.”

Open communication

We live in a world where everyone is connected, and your professors at Missouri Southern are prepared to help you navigate through this challenging period.

“Our professors want us to succeed,” Willerton says. “I’ve been emailing them if I have questions or if there’s an issue with an assignment. They’re very quick to respond and have been super helpful.”

Like Willerton, Craig hopes students communicate as much as possible with their instructors.

“I can’t say enough how much faculty wants to hear from their students,” she says. “I genuinely worry about how everybody is managing this. It makes me feel better whenever they ask a question or turn in an assignment.

“Be as communicative as possible about the things going on in your world that are causing undue stress, or if there’s something you don’t understand about the technology.”

Forget perfectionism

For those students who tend to be perfectionists, you have to let it go during a time when everyone is dealing with an unexpected situation.

“There’s no such thing as perfect right now because nobody knows what that is,” says Craig. “If a student was being perfect in my class right now, I wouldn’t know what that looks like.

“There’s no rule book, but we’re going to learn a lot from this.”

We’re all in this together

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by our current situation? You’re far from alone. Keep in mind that college students and their professors around the country are grappling with the same issues.

“Remember, everyone else is doing the same thing,” says Willerton. “No one can add a single hour to their life by worrying, so just hunker down and get it done.”

There are no shortage of tips and strategies available to help. The Department of Distance Learning at MSSU has compiled a number of resources – including websites and video tutorials – you might find useful.

Put yourself first

“At the end of the day, students have to prioritize themselves and their well-being first,” says Craig. “This is a really stressful time, so make sure you’re doing good things for yourself every day.

“It could be video chatting with a classmate or family member, getting outside to get some exercise or cooking a meal that’s good for you. It’s about taking care of your body, mind and spirit.”