With several weeks of distance learning under our belts, most college students have a handle on their routines, study schedules and have settled into the social distancing groove in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. By now, students have established what it takes to keep their grades up. But good grades can only go so far. What about emotional and mental well-being?

To start, you can check with your college to find out what engaging virtual activities are being offered to students during this time. Vaughn is hosting virtual exercise classes, yoga, scavenger hunts and jeopardy games to help with mental and physical health – these are posted on Facebook and Instagram weekly, as well as on the events page.

In addition to these activities, we would also like to suggest some fun and functional ways to boost your mood and ease the stress and isolation that might result from distance learning. Whether you try one of these methods or all of them, keeping a positive mind-body balance is the best way to maintain good emotional and mental health.

Maintaining social connections

Social distancing may be keeping us from physically seeing our friends and families, but thanks to technology, there are other fun ways to maintain social connections. Did you know social connections are a powerful force in boosting your mood and overall health? Here are some fun ways to keep your lifelines open with family and friends:

  • Use Zoom, FaceTime and social media platforms to stay connected 24-hours a day.
  • Schedule a game night/day to play group games—social distancing does not apply.
  • Schedule venting sessions. Getting your thoughts or frustrations off your chest is a healthy way to clear your mind.

Exercise your body and your mind

These days, it is all too easy to get stuck in a rut. If you are becoming one with your couch, now is the time to get up, get moving and release those mood-boosting endorphins. Here are some ways to keep your body active while staying at home. Just be sure to follow proper Centers of Disease Control (CDC) social distancing guidelines.

  • Go for a walk
  • Take a bike ride
  • Do yoga
  • Dance to your favorite songs
  • Jump rope
  • Play tag with your siblings

We already know exercise does a body good. But what about giving your brain a boost, too? Before you say your brain is on overload from studying, consider this: Did you know playing brain-boosting games can relax your mind and help you shift gears into a more relaxed mental state? Between online learning sessions try playing one or more of these for a fun brain boost:

  • Puzzles
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Words with friends
  • Sudoku
  • Solitaire
  • Word search


Mindfulness exercises, such as meditation can be the ultimate exercise for your brain. Here are some of the benefits meditation can bring to your mental health:

  • Instills internal calming and peace
  • Clears your mind
  • Rejuvenates your mind and energy level
  • Provides a peaceful escape from your surroundings

Easing Worries

It is not uncommon for college students to become anxious or distressed during today’s uncertain times. The experts at Psychology Today recommend for students to ease their worries with the SHHH tips: Structure, Health, Happiness and Hope. If you are already practicing some of these, try incorporating the others for a total wellness check to help ease your worries away.

  • Structure—Maintain a schedule and stick with it. Try going to bed the same time every night and remain diligent with your school schedule. The good news is once your work has been completed, you can make time for that Zoom call or FaceTime chat!
  • Health—It is easy to indulge in a snack marathon while social distancing, but maintaining a healthy diet now is more important than ever. Good nutrition can boost your immune system. Also, it is important to get enough sleep and work in some exercise, as we discussed above.
  • Happiness—This might be a tough one since many of the things that brought us happiness are off the list—for now. The good news? There are other activities that can bring you joy that you may not have discovered or have forgotten about. Some suggestions to consider: Trying out a new recipe. Or, play an instrument you haven’t played in a while. Start up an old hobby you used to enjoy, such as crafting, sewing, knitting or journaling. Finally, how about binge-watching a cool series on Netflix?
  • Hope—This may be the most important one of all. If history has taught us anything, it is that we are a country of resilience. As a nation, we have recovered from wars, pandemics and recessions. Looking to the future with hope and promise of better days to follow is one of the best ways to keep mentally fit.

Looking for more helpful information on distance learning? Check out our blog: Six Tips for New Distance Learners. So keep your head up, stay mentally and physically fit and prepare yourself for a bright future.

Vaughn College wants everyone to stay engaged during this time of social distancing and online learning. To foster this, we have come up with a list of organizations museums that have created amazing virtual experiences that you can enjoy from the comfort of your very own home. Have you ever dreamed of visiting our country’s national parks or touring the magnificent palaces of Europe? Now you can without leaving your home.

Virtual experiences are taking the sting out of social distancing, as many are embracing their newly found downtime by embarking on virtual sightseeing adventures. Now, they have the freedom to visit their bucket list destinations. And the best part? No travel is required. As we continue to follow federal guidelines of staying at home to stop the spread of COVID-19, museums and organizations near and far are bringing the wonder and excitement to us all.

There are fun and educational virtual experiences that will keep you and your family members engaged and entertained.

We have put together a list of exciting museums and organizations that are embracing the virtual tour experience in order for you to experience them for yourselves—all from the comfort of your own home. Visit one or visit them all. Sit back and enjoy!

Google Earth

National Parks of the United States

Some of us can only dream of visiting one of our national parks. Imagine having the opportunity to experience the wonder of them all? Now you can. Google Earth is offering virtual tours of our national parks. Some of these parks may be on your bucket list, while there are others you may never have heard of.

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon

Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina and Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains

Cradle of Aviation, New York

Virtual Museum

Cradle of Aviation Museum

Love science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)? Then the Cradle of Aviation aerospace museum is for you! Now is your chance to explore and discover everything the Cradle of Aviation Museum has to offer by taking their virtual tour. To date, the museum has created and shared over 50 videos on the history of ingenuity and innovation in aerospace via the social media app TikTok (#educatortom). Looking for engaging activities for yourself or younger siblings? This is a fantastic educational activity they will love, especially if they are interested in STEM subjects. This museum also intends on producing a range of videos that cover STEM topics. Other fun and exciting virtual activities include:

Museum of Discovery and Science, Florida

Virtual Kids Camp and Activities

Museum of Discovery and Science

The Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale, Florida is joining the virtual tour community by offering fun and educational activities as you and your family stay at home. From cool STEM-focused projects to story time—and everything in between—kids will love keeping up with brain-boosting activities to pass the time.

Famous Palaces

Virtual Tour of Europe’s Incredible Palaces

Take a royal virtual tour through Europe while social distancing. If you’ve ever wanted to walk in the footsteps of Queen Elizabeth II, Louis XIV of France or King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, then sit back and enjoy the splendor and grandeur of Europe’s most incredible palaces. It is sure to be a crowning experience. Here are just a few palaces you can tour.

Buckingham Palace, United Kingdom

Buckingham Palace

Windsor Castle, United Kingdom

Windsor Castle

The Royal Palace of Versailles, France

Royal Palace of Versailles

The Royal Palace of Stockholm, Sweden

Royal Palace of Stockholm

Learn about Vaughn’s Virtual Open House

Aviation Training Institute (ATI) April 28 and April 30 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Are you interested in learning more about Vaughn College, but social distancing is keeping you at home? Vaughn is excited to announce its first-ever Virtual Open House, where we bring the experience to you. The event is chock full of everything you need to know about the college, financial aid, student life, the admissions process and our Aviation Training Institute where you can study to become an aircraft mechanic. And, as a “thank you,” we are waiving the registration fee just for attending the Virtual Open House. So, stay safe, stay home and sign up for what could be the start of your futureproof career at Vaughn College. Take our virtual tour and register today.

Going above and beyond and embracing opportunities has led Vaughn senior Atif Saeed ’20 to achieve academic success throughout his life. At 22 years old, Saeed will be graduating summa cum laude next month with a bachelor of science in mechatronic engineering—completing the program one year early.

He credits Vaughn College for supporting him every step of the way and offering opportunities that he says were stepping-stones to his success. Here’s his story.

Humble beginnings

Born in Pakistan, Saeed moved to upstate New York with his parents and two siblings when he was three years old. In 2012, his family moved to New York City where Saeed attended high school. Knowing he and his siblings could be first-generation college graduates in his family, Saeed said he was very motivated to attend college earlier than the normal timeframe. He began a dual-enrollment program in high school, where he took online college courses to fast track his graduation in three years instead of four. “I watched my father work 14-hour days to support our family,” Saeed said humbly. “I felt strongly about working and studying hard to earn my college degree and pursue a career that could help my family.” Looking back, he said taking engineering courses early on in high school gave him a head start to gain the knowledge he needed to succeed in college.

Passion for aviation

Growing up, Saeed said he was obsessed with watching documentaries that explained how things are built. He explained how his passion for aviation stemmed from a family trip to Dubai about 10 years ago. “We boarded an Airbus A380 aircraft and I was immediately in awe of the size of the plane,” he said. “That day was the turning point for me. It was then I realized I wanted to work with aircrafts.”

Pursuing the dream at Vaughn

At 17 years old, Saeed enrolled in the aviation maintenance associate of applied science (AAS) degree program at Vaughn’s Aviation Training Institute. After earning his AAS degree, he kept his eye on his future and enrolled in the mechatronic engineering program at Vaughn. “I chose mechatronic engineering to broaden my job opportunities after graduation,” he stated. “I believe the wealth of knowledge in the fields of mechanical and electrical engineering—combined with computer science—is a winning combination to position myself for a futureproof career.”

Embracing opportunities at Vaughn

There’s no denying Saeed studied diligently throughout his time at Vaughn; however, he believes it was going beyond the walls of the classroom that helped set his future on a track for success. “I made it a priority to take on leadership roles in several clubs at Vaughn,” he said. “I embraced every opportunity that was offered to further my education and knowledge in the field.” To date, he holds two licenses and certifications, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airframe and Powerplant License and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) General Radiotelephone Operator license. Additionally, he has authored four publications presented at industry conferences and has received several awards throughout his time at Vaughn. Saeed said he believes the strong relationships he built with his professors, faculty and career services department were instrumental in helping him prepare for a successful career.

Stepping-stones to his future

First and foremost, Saeed believes anyone can be successful if they are willing to work hard and do what it takes to achieve it. “Attitude is everything. From a young age, I was taught to go above and beyond anyone’s expectations, including your own,” he said humbly. “You only answer to yourself. If you do whatever it takes to rise above the rest, you can achieve anything.”

He shares some tips on what students can do while in college to make themselves competitive after graduation:

  • Acquire licenses
  • Sharpen communication skills
  • Attend conferences
  • Submit work for publication
  • Connect with faculty and build strong relationships
  • Keep an open mind
  • Start building resumes early
  • Don’t give up

With several job offers on the table and numerous acceptances to graduate programs across the country, Saeed is gearing up for the next chapter in his life after graduation. “I believe today’s students need to be laser-focused on acquiring the necessary tools and knowledge to be competitive in today’s market,” he said. “Vaughn can get you there.”

The next chapter

Saeed loves a challenge and the next chapter of his life will be no different. In June, he will begin his new job at Lockheed Martin Space in Sunnyvale, California, working as a mechanical engineer. Alongside his job, he chose the University of Southern California to pursue his master’s in aerospace engineering, where he will be taking online courses beginning in August. “I believe education is the cornerstone of success in the field of engineering,” Saeed said. “I plan on earning my master’s degree to help me advance in the industry, then move onto earning a master’s in business administration (MBA) to round out my credentials.”

Home is where the heart is

He may be moving across the country, but Saeed says his close-knit family will be close at heart. “It will be hard leaving my family, but they are amazing people who have supported me my entire life. My father worked hard so I could go to college. Now, it’s my turn to return the favor.”

Are you interested in learning more about Vaughn College, but social distancing is keeping you at home? Vaughn is excited to announce its first-ever Virtual Open House, where we brought the experience to you. If you were unable to attend, you can check out recorded video presentations from the event here. The event covered everything you need to know about the college, financial aid, student life, the admissions process and our Aviation Training Institute where you can study to become an aircraft mechanic. So, stay safe, stay home and check out the Virtual Open House to see what could be the start of your futureproof career at Vaughn College. Take our virtual tour and apply today.

Have more questions? You can schedule a one-on-one Zoom meeting with one of our admissions counselors at any time by emailing . In this video meeting, you can discuss any questions you might have regarding financial aid, the application process or student life. We invite you to visit our admissions page for further details.


Vaughn College, along with many other institutions across the US, has moved all of its classes and many of its labs to an online format in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus, called COVID-19, in New York City. For many of our students this is a huge adjustment, so we’ve put together this list of best practices (and links to some resources you may not realize are available to you) to help you make the best of your distance learning-from-home experience!

Six Tips for New Distance Learners

  1. Know Which Tools You Need for Class: D2L, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts; these are all useful tools for online learning, but which ones do your instructors use? Vaughn has created a handy guide to online distance learning, D2L and SONIS, and will have staff available to you via email to help you transition to online learning if you need. And don’t forget, you can always check all of our guides and updates regarding coronavirus.
  2. Develop a Schedule (And Stick to It): You may be tempted to sleep in and think of this as a kind of vacation. But developing a schedule, even if you don’t have to physically attend classes every day, can help you stay on top of your studies and avoid mental burnout. You can also develop a study schedule using free online tools.
  3. Create a Designated Workspace: Staying in bed can get, pardon the pun, tired really quickly. Finding and keeping a designated distance learning workspace can help you stay on schedule and help create the separation of college/personal life that you may be missing while you’re learning off-campus. There are some great tips on creating an at-home workspace available!
  4. Stay Active: One way to avoid burnout and restlessness is to remain active, even when you’re off campus. Once every hour stand up, stretch and take a deep breath. This will keep you from getting stiff and will stave off that “worn down” feeling. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, do an at-home workout.
  5. Take Care of Yourself: Self-care is very important during any major adjustment, so make sure you’re attending to your physical and emotional needs. Take breaks when you need to; do something you enjoy every day; make contact with people outside of the digital classroom. Vaughn College offers students resources for emotional self-care.
  6. Communicate: This is an adjustment for us all, and we’re all in this as a community. If your needs aren’t being met or you’re struggling to adjust, communicate with your faculty or Vaughn College staff; we are here to help you succeed. Contact information is available in the portal.

As spring break approaches, take some time to familiarize yourself with the tools and resources you need to make the best of your online distance learning experience. If you have trouble getting online or need additional help adjusting, you can find more resources, contact information and regular coronavirus updates on our website, at www.vaughn.edu/coronavirus.

Social distancing due to the COVID-19 outbreak may be grounding us at home, but that isn’t keeping drone enthusiasts down. In fact, there are several types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that are available on the market today that can have hobbyists spreading their virtual wings safely both indoors and outdoors.

Peter Kalaitzidis ’20 is a drone expert and a highly decorated retired staff sergeant of the United States Air Force, who is graduating this year with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. We asked for his top picks of the five best drones on the market today. Did you know there are drones that are even safe enough for kids to fly indoors? Check them out!

Best Indoor Drones

1. Tiny Whoop

Appropriately named, the Tiny Whoop is a small first-person-view aircraft that is perfect for small apartments or any indoor drone flying—even around kids! Weighing less than one pound (40 g) its shrouded propellers gives users a comfort factor of safety while providing tons of fun! Plus, it’s perfect for beginners. (Check with manufacturer for age requirements.) In addition, the Cradle of Aviation Museum hosted Vaughn’s unmanned aerial vehicles club for its first Tiny Whoop Contest in February.

2. Tinyhawk EMAX

Indoor drone racing has never been so much fun. The Tinyhawk EMAX is a micro indoor racing aircraft that has the perfect power-to-weight ratio. Here are some key features:

  • 75 mm indoor racing drone
  • 8 mm diameter brushless motors with durable ball bearings for increased flight time/performance and low maintenance
  • Durable polypropylene plastic frame with propeller guards
  • Motor beeper function to help locate after an unintentional landing
  • 25 mW video transmitter and 600 TV-line camera included

Best Outdoor Drone

3. Mavic Mini

When it comes to outdoor drones for beginners, the Mavic Mini is Kalaitzidis’ pick as the best all-around UAV. Weighing in at only a half-pound (249 g), the Mavic Mini places in the lowest and safest weight class of drones, which in some countries—like the US and Canada—make it exempt from certain Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations such as having to register it with the government. Here are some fun facts about the Mavic Mini:

  • Operates through a smart device
  • Will follow you wherever you go
  • Maximum flight speed 13 m/s
  • Dedicated remote control included
  • Flies by itself
  • Built-in camera

Best First-Person View Drone

4. Tinyhawk 2

The EMAX Tinyhawk II is the ultimate racing drone. With the ability to reach speeds of 15 to 30 miles per hour based on the battery, this UAV is a dream to fly but is reserved only for established pilots who have a grasp on flying and protocols. Some key features of this outdoor drone include:

  • Perfect flight performance allows for navigation in a variety of situations
  • Nano 2 FPV camera takes pictures with crisp colors, wide dynamic range and sharp optics
  • Cleaner video
  • Increased power and faster propeller speeds
  • Adjustable camera mount allows pilots to customize preferred angle of flight
  • Redesigned durability with built-in throttle response LED system increases brightness

Best Semi-Professional Drone

5. Mavic 2 Zoom

For photography enthusiasts, the Mavic 2 Zoom captures everything you want in an outdoor drone. Its optical zoom capabilities and long-range time make it a top pick for taking outstanding photos and video. Plus, it can handle winds of up to 20 knots. Here are some key features:

  • Maximum speed of approximately 48 mph
  • Fly time of up to 31 minutes
  • Shoots 4K video at 100 Mbps
  • Zoom lens allows for perfect compositions from a farther distance
  • Ability to change the field of view for a dramatic look
  • 4x lossless zoom when shooting Full HD videos

Vaughn’s Take on Drone Safety

Operating a drone is a privilege. It comes with great responsibility, along with the education and understanding of operation within the FAA guidelines. Keeping the world’s safest and most efficient aerospace is the FAA’s primary mission—and indoor or outdoor drones are part of that responsibility. Are you interested in becoming a drone pilot? Here are some ways to get involved:

  • Enroll in a drone course: Drone Laws and Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems
  • Join the Vaughn UAV Club

Here are some reasons why students are encouraged to take our drone course:

  • To acquire a better understanding of controlled and uncontrolled airspace
  • To understand weather patterns and how it impacts flying
  • To learn about aerodynamic issues
  • To gain the power of professionalism

Whether you want to design and build drones, become a drone pilot or pursue an aviation career, Vaughn College has the courses you need to help you get to where you want to be.

“Drones are a pivotal part of our future,” said Kalaitzidis. “Although the engineering of UAVs is still in its infancy, teaching our younger generation about it now is key. It helps them to think about engineering before they even know what it is. Flying drones is a great way to get them thinking out of the box now to fuel their passion for the future.”

Discover all that’s possible with an engineering or aviation degree from Vaughn.