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How to make the most of Zoom University

Even though the Fall 2020 semester will be online, there are still ways to engage with your classmates and educators to get the best college experience possible in the age of COVID-19.  – Photo by The Daily Targum

It’s totally natural to get those first day jitters. Even if you’re nervous while sitting on your bed, attending online classes, wondering how on Earth you ended up in a lecture where your professor is droning on and on about the remote semester expectations, everyone wants to impress their professors or classmates and hopefully make those long-lasting friendships and connections. 

Normally, if you want to stand out, there are a few easy rules you can follow: raising your hand often, wearing your best outfit to class or actually doing the readings so your professor will be impressed. But now with the transition to online classes, it might be hard to get a classmate to notice you or to develop a relationship with your prof. Here’s how you can make the most of your time during remote learning: 

Change your Zoom background, duh.

Changing your background to something funny, relatable or distracting can get anyone’s attention, whether it be the cute kid from Chem class or the professor you just want to impress. Choosing a tasteful background that’s hilarious enough to get the attention of your peers and profs is a great way to say something about yourself without even saying a word. And just think, would you be able to manipulate the background of your settings outside of Zoom to a picture of Aang and Zuko kissing? I think not …

Unmute that mic!

Although this seems ridiculously simple, speak up during class discussions! Do the readings and required work to make yourself a present member of class. Nobody is denying that our living situations are going to make it incredibly difficult to want to do college classes, but class will be less horrible if you know what your professor is talking about. 

Bring your pet to class.

Um, when will you ever get the chance to have show and tell in college?!? Probably never, so use it to your advantage. Grab your bunny, turtle, dog, cat or other pet and have them be a surprise guest appearance to class. You might want to save this special event for the beginning or end of class because your prof might find it too distracting if your cute pup starts sniffing your webcam. If you don’t have a pet, a pop-in from a sibling or parent will certainly do.  

Email, email, email.

No, your Scarlet Mail is not just a place for University-wide email threads or updates about COVID-19. Using this tool can be a great way to get to know people in your classes!

Emails can be super personal and fun while still maintaining a degree of professionalism — the exact type of relationship you may want to develop with your professor or the talkative kid in class you want to share notes with. Don’t be afraid to shoot a thoughtful email introducing yourself to your professor, 9/10 times your professor will remember you taking the initiative to reach out!

Practice mindfulness.

The situation is incredibly rough. We are truly trying to survive a global pandemic while doing whatever it takes to protect our own mental health, keep up with school work, maintain a social life and so much more.

If there’s anything you take from this, please use the remote learning experience to take care of yourself as much as possible. Practicing self-love, self-respect and discipline will come in handy when trying to manage the switch to virtual learning.

Remember everyone, college is about learning new things about yourself, other people and the world around you. Although the transition to remote learning is anything but normal, everyone is in this to some varying degree of togetherness. Most of us are stuck at home and going through it, even our professors. Try to think as positively as possible, treat yourself and others with unwavering kindness and do your best! 


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