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Student Voices: Anna Victoria speaks about unique challenges & strategies for online learning

— August 12, 2021

This conversation is part of a series of informal interviews (conversations and/or survey) with online students in various stages of their academic journey. 

Anna Victoria VonSchell is a student at Arizona State University (B.S. Prevention Science, 2021; B.S. Psychology, 2017) whose coursework was fully online. Below, Anna shares experiences as an online learner and highlights some of the unique challenges and strategies encountered in that learning format.

Question: Are you currently an online student?

Answer: Yes, all of my classes are fully online (no in-person work).

Q: What are the biggest challenges that you have faced (or are facing) as an online student?


  • No learning through osmosis

  • No regular cadence to learning without set lecture times

  • Miss making friends and study buddies with people who sit near me/have similar schedules

  • Pre-recorded lectures can be draining without live energy/conversation to back it up

  • No location or temporal triggers to jog the train of thought around the subject matter

  • Deciphering/filtering what information to retain and what to let pass (becomes exhausting to sift through and it's always the same modality - internet)

  • Negative self-talk and too much time alone with my own work (ruminating)

  • Lack of classmate feedback

I have taken online courses simultaneously with in-person classes in the past, however, and thoroughly enjoyed those experiences! Many of my challenges seem like they're exacerbated by the grander landscape of relative social isolation.

Q: What strategies do you use to address these challenges?  What has worked for you?

A: I type my assignments on tear-soaked keys. Just kidding, that's only sometimes :)

  • Breathing techniques for attentional focus (meditation)

  • Utilizing campus resources and joining clubs to increase sense of connectedness (participating in free meditation, personal development offerings, etc)

  • Time management strategies to mimic set class times/regular schedule

  • Building in extra breaks to completely step away from thoughts associated with specific activities

  • Exploring a breadth of internet engagement that exists around my course topics (podcasts, journals, articles, comments)

  • Self-esteem building: working on a more positive inner-experience regardless of excessive challenge/worry

Q: Were you an online student prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic (March 2020)?

A:Yes, I took classes both online and in-person prior to the pandemic.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?

A: ASU is a magnificent institution and I am sincerely grateful to call this school my home!

Thank you, Anna, for sharing your experiences and strategies!

Read more Student Voices stories.

We are passionate about improving the student experience through story-telling and shared experiences. We hope the 2020-21 Student Voices Project will help our community better understand the challenges that online learners face along the way, and celebrate and share the strategies they use to address these challenges.