Keeping your career and education afloat when you’re remote during the pandemic
“Ping!”— An alert sounds through Sherry Halfyard’s computer notifying her that a student is requesting assistance from University of Phoenix’s Disability Services Office. The student is recovering from the novel coronavirus, fell behind on coursework during the illness and needs help figuring out what to do to get back on track.
In her role as Disability Services Advisor, Halfyard typically advises students with physical, mental health or learning disabilities. As part of that work, Halfyard’s team is offering support and guidance for students who have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus, helping them navigate next steps related to academics and find ways to stay on track.
“We want to make sure our students feel supported. Some of the students who have been hospitalized with coronavirus, they’re scared,” Halfyard said. “We want to put them at ease about their school obligations.”
Halfyard’s job is finding solutions, resources and accommodations for students with a wide variety of disabling conditions. Many UOPX students are trying to figure out how to juggle jobs, education and kids doing distance learning at home. Add a health issue on top of that — including falling ill with COVID-19 — and it becomes a very overwhelming situation.
The pandemic is affecting all of us, regardless of whether we have fallen ill or not, Halfyard said. So, touching base and creating a lifeline for students who are struggling is more important than ever.
“It’s really important on our end to stay optimistic about things,” she said. “It’s a good opportunity to humanize our conversations.”
Halfyard suggested that anyone struggling to keep up with schoolwork or changes in their careers during the pandemic start a conversation with themselves by simply asking, “How are things going?” Recognize what you have accomplished and evaluate whether your career and education goals are on track.
Halfyard offered these five tips to help keep your education goals afloat during the pandemic:
It’s always a good time to learn more about yourself, your talents and strengths. Ask yourself what your goals are, what your passions are and what motivates you. Use your downtime to take an online personality test, like the Myers Briggs or Enneagram. You can use the new insights you gain to determine whether your goals are a good fit. It’s also a good time to ask yourself if your goals and priorities are different now. So much has changed during the pandemic, will this alter your goals, as well? You want to know where you are, where you want to be and whether this will require changes.
If you need to upskill in your job or your career goals have changed, you can still make progress toward those goals, even if you can’t go back to school right now. Take the time to research educational programs, scholarships and other opportunities to gain skills even when you aren’t in school. She also recommends doing the research to find out whether your dream job is in demand or if it will pay you enough to meet your financial goals and obligations. You can find this information on the Department of Labor’s Career One Stop website.
Enhance Your Skills:
Use this time to take advantage of the many online resources, free courses, lecture series and networking opportunities that are being created to help the public cope during the pandemic. If you want to learn a new skill or program, sign up for a class. It will help your mental health and you can learn something new. If you need to take a break from your formal education, either because you’re overwhelmed, ill or financially strapped, there are also online resources that will allow you to keep moving forward in your academic career. Check out Sophia, which is offering free access to University of Phoenix students during the COVID-19 crisis until July. Sophia offers self-paced online courses to complete general education requirements on your schedule, at your own pace.
Working and studying from home, especially with a house full of stir-crazy kids, is a challenge. It takes strong study habits, time management and organizational skills in order to pull it off without pulling out your hair. If you have extra time on your hands, learn more about how to get better at these skills. Make a schedule for your household, allocating blocks of time to work, study and be with your kids. Be sure to add in downtime and time to exercise, too, and stick to this schedule as best you can.
Take a Break:
If it’s too overwhelming or too much to carry right now — maintaining your school, work and family obligations — or if you or a family member falls ill, it’s okay to press pause on your ambition. Acknowledge when you need to take an academic break; it’s better to stay afloat than sink under the pressure of carrying too much on your shoulders.
If students find themselves feeling overwhelmed, University of Phoenix offers services through their Life Resource Center. The center is available to current and former students and includes more than 5,000 resources, including webinars, podcasts, articles and assessments. Life coaching and counseling are also available for active students. Whether you need help locating a pet sitter, a contractor for your remodeling project, a home for your aging parents, help understanding your kids’ behavior or your spouse’s, the Life Resource Center is great resource.