These are unique times to be a student.
Over the last few months, you’ve had to navigate the biggest experiment ever in education as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. For most, online learning has been a whole new experience: only about six per cent of Canadian K-12 students, 16 per cent of university and 12 per cent of college students learned primarily online in 2019.
Lessons are different. Tests are different. But through this you’ve shown that you are resilient, able to learn in new ways, while boosting your already strong digital skills.
Now that the 2019 school year is over — and the return to class in person remains unclear — now is a good time to make sure you stay on top of your learning goals. But doing this all from home can be intimidating.
Here are a few tips to help you keep on track:
- Get to know your skills. It’s easy to overlook how much you’ve learned outside the classroom. You have been building your skillset in new ways with online education: you’re collaborating, thinking critically and communicating digitally. Tools like RBC Upskill can help you understand how your skills are opening up career pathways based on what you’re interested in and already good at. As you plan for college, university or grad studies, get to know your strengths and areas to work on.
- Take advantage of online resources. There’s a wide world of online learning. Nearly 1.6 billion students have been impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns. As a result, many providers have opened access to their platforms, giving you more choices than before. You have a chance now to try something different — a new language or software certificate — that ma not offered at your school. Online providers like Coursera have made many courses free, from guitar lessons to calculus. RBC Future Launch @ Home brings together skill training for young people, from personal finance to STEM to ethics. These tools can help expand your options, build your skills and offer the credentials employers are looking for.
- Consider a virtual internship. Get work experience while staying safe at home. The summer job you planned may have been impacted, but many businesses now offering online internships, you have options for getting workplace skills remotely. Riipen has worked with businesses across the country to offer short-term, virtual work projects for students. Virtual WIL, or work-integrated learning, can give you a chance to test out different career options, no matter where you are. This experience may help you to transition from school to work, even in difficult economic times.
- Choose classes that fit your learning style. There are more choices coming to how you learn. Students can learn from anywhere and on their own time. Some high school, colleges and universities will be integrating more “self-directed” programs to bring in the best of online, in-person and hands-on learning. When you’re choosing classes, think about how you like to learn as much as what you want to do. To gain the job-ready skills for tomorrow, consider different learning programs like micro-credentials (short, skills intensive learning), work-integrated learning and hybrid courses (a mix of online and in-person) to prepare you for a post-crisis workplace.
- Give yourself some credit. Remember, these are not normal times. No other generation of students has done what you have in the last few months. Your own health and wellness must be a priority — and your education journey will continue.
For some, online learning isn’t a great fit, either due to limited access or different learning styles. As much as you can, try to use this time to reflect on what you’re good at, what you want to do in the future, and learning tools you find most helpful. Take charge of your education; ask questions and seek out resources, and create a learning plan that works for you.
Read RBC's full report on The Future of Post-Secondary Education: On Campus, Online and On Demand.
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