Give Yourself Grace: My 5 Tips for Surviving Virtual Classes

Whether we came to Goizueta to complete our MBA in one year or two years, I think we can all agree that this is not how we planned or thought our business school journey would go. Many of us came to school to expand our network, and though we may have accomplished that, it is unfortunate that we weren’t able to do it in the same way that previous classes have. Even though this situation has been incredibly hard, here are a few things I’ve done to keep my head above water and to have some semblance of a “normal” business school experience:

  1. Remind myself that I’m paying for this experience. As business school students perhaps nothing motivates us more than saving a dollar, winning some cash, or achieving an amazing ROI. The fact is, that besides some grants and scholarships, I am paying for this degree. If you got a full scholarship or are related to Jeff Bezos, then this point probably does not apply to you. When all is said and done, I do not want to reflect on this experience and have any regrets. I do not want to think that I could have done more. I do not want to waste my tuition dollars. I came to Goizueta to learn and to bolster my business acumen. As such, it is imperative that I pay attention and participate in my classes, as difficult as that may be virtually.
  2. Connect with my peers virtually. As much as I abhor virtual events, they have become a necessary evil in this day and age. I’ve found myself participating more and more in virtual social events despite my very strong desire to see my classmates in person more often.
  3. Volunteer for more extra-curricular activities. By keeping myself busy, I do not have much time to think about the “good ole days” or to make predictions about when this will all end. When the pandemic first started, I was one of those people who said, “Oh, this will be over by summer.” When that didn’t happen, I began saying, “Oh, the vaccine will be out by Fall, then all will be well.” And here we are almost a year later. My blind optimism failed me, but I could not allow it to keep me down. During the Winter break, I told myself that I was going to relax this semester and enjoy my time before re-entering the workforce, but I somehow found myself saying, “Yes!” to almost every request. To name a few, I signed up to do a directed study for the National Black MBA Association (more on that experience to come in a later blog) and to be a member of the Goizueta Graduation Committee.
  4. Surf ‘n Turf, seasoned with traditional Jamaican flavors such as jerk and sorrel sauce

    Surf ‘n Turf, seasoned with traditional Jamaican flavors such as jerk and sorrel sauce

    Stay active. When I went back home to Jamaica for the Winter break, I did not work out, not even once. I just ate and ate all my favorite Jamaican dishes (don’t judge me). Now that I am back in school, I find that exercising really helps to take my mind off my circumstances, even if just for a little while. Two added bonuses are that it releases endorphins and it is very easy to get a virtual workout going. (Shameless plug: Goizueta Women in Business [GWIB] is planning a “Chloe Ting 2-week Workout Challenge” in March!)

  5. Give myself (and my professors) some grace. This pandemic has been difficult for all of us, some more than others, and I never want to lose sight of that. I want to remember that we are all going through it, albeit in different ways. If virtual school has been so daunting for me and my peers, I cannot imagine what it must be like for the professors. That is partially why I try to remain engaged in class. It is so awkward when professors ask a question, and no one replies. It is hard to plan a virtual class that is as riveting as an in-person one, but they try anyway. For that reason, I want to try as well. At the same time, I have to acknowledge the pain the pandemic has brought upon me and be patient with myself as I navigate these challenging times.

I want to end with a disclaimer. These are just a few of the changes I have made that seem to be working well for me. I know these “tips” won’t work as well or at all for some people, but if there is anything I want readers to take away from this, it’s to give yourself some grace. These are tough times and you’re only human. You’ve been doing great. And there is absolutely no shame in seeking professional help if you need it.

Please visit Emory University’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) website to learn more about free, confidential services for students including initial assessments, crisis intervention, community referrals, online workshops, as well as limited individual, couples, and group counseling. CAPS is currently offering telehealth services via phone and HIPAA-compliant Zoom to enrolled Emory students.

Racquel Waite

Racquel Waite

Racquel Waite, originally from Jamaica, came to America 10 years ago to attend Colgate University in upstate New York. Racquel was an M&A equity analyst in New York City before attending Goizueta Business School. She interned at Liberty Mutual in the summer of 2020 and is going into her second year at Goizueta.