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David Hart, Ph.D. and Rebecca Armstrong, Ph.D.

Making the decision to pursue an advanced degree is certainly commendable. To add to one’s knowledge base is ambitious and the results of such a commitment are monumental. However, it goes without saying that in that scheme, life’s challenges are ever-present, and along with other given responsibilities, the concept of time becomes a faded memory. If that is not enough, COVID-19 presented all degree-seekers with issues that seemed insurmountable. Many decided that virtual learning programs would provide an environment that allowed for success in the academic arena despite the forces that be, and in broad terms, that was true. However, many virtual learners could not anticipate the pressures of being completely self-disciplined in an on-line platform, living up to the demands of graduate learning, and ultimately having to acquire necessary skills to cope with feelings of isolation, loneliness, lack of motivation, and absent emotional connectivity.

So now what? Students and educators alike are all too familiar with the pitfalls that may accompany an asynchronous learning environment. However, we believe that to validate, to normalize these seemingly catastrophic occurrences is to lessen their impact, and perhaps to empower. Let us explore the benefits of preparing online students with information necessary to adapt accordingly and to be successful at challenges that may otherwise seem daunting. An incredible amount of information has been presented about COVID-19, its effects on academia, how students will be required to adjust accordingly, and how those in advanced programs will succeed. What has not been discussed in detail is how they might prepare for such an event. We look forward to sharing our personal experiences and our proactive thoughts and ideas. Now is the time!



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