Student Voices

Here we’ve collected wisdom from current Hoyas on how to make the most of your online experience this fall.

Saham Ali, NHS, ‘21:

Tips for fellow students

  1. Connect with professors and TAs. Reach out and communicate.
  2. Come prepared with questions for your recitations and small group sessions. Recognize the difference in formats of classes. Discussion puts a big responsibility on coming prepared with texts under your belt.
  3. Keep your camera on when possible, lean in, work together. Be interactive. Make sure you are all connecting and uphold the spirit of working together. Be present.  Stay focused.
  4. Don’t rely on recorded lectures and zone out during the class. It’s hard to go back and piece it together. Reviewing it using the recording is much easier when you’ve paid attention.
  5. Use Google calendar. Block out time on your calendar to do work. The hardest adjustment is scheduling time when classes start late. I make a To Do list at the beginning of each day. Satisfying to check things off!
  6. Don’t believe the hype. Other people aren’t perfect and doing it all. Take breaks. Don’t take on too much. Eat three meals a day. Find de-stressors for you…being alone, reading a book, being with friends, FaceTime. Step outside the bubble of stress.
  7. Use your resources, especially CMEA and GSP. Don’t wait until there is a problem.
  8. Learn how to say no.  “I would love to help, but I’m super busy right now and I won’t be able to help you to the best of my ability.” Oxygen mask for yourself first. No doesn’t have to mean no forever. It could also mean no for right now. 
  9. Remember that faculty are more like colleagues and mentors than like high school teachers. They will write your references, etc. down the line. Don’t burn bridges, either.
  10. Find a study group, esp. for science classes.
  11. Find your center. Return to your motivation. What do you want? Why are you doing this? Lean on others.

Clare Reid, ‘21:

Abigail Cawley, SFS, ‘20:

When it comes to making the most of online learning, here are some strategies that I have found useful and central to my own success in a virtual classroom.

Attend Office Hours

  • Keeps you connected and engaged with the learning material—and helps you adapt to each professor’s teaching/virtual classroom style
  • Helps you build a relationship with the professor—which will be beneficial for your learning
    • They may teach to you, specifically, because they know you
    • You can start a great mentorship relationship
    • Even if you don’t really like the professor, the time will help you ensure that you understand their course expectations properly
  • Suggestions for conversation starters with professors:
    • What did you study in college?
    • Can we take a moment to walk through my notes from lecture the other day and make sure that I’m not missing or misunderstanding anything?

Spatial Separation

  • Separating where you sleep in particular from where you do work is essential to making sure that your brain is in the right mode to get work done—neuroscience supports this
  • This has been key to my productivity—ability to get work done on time and not butcher my sleep schedule
  • Having a routine where you regularly move from one room into another for the various activities you are doing will ensure that you can keep on top of your work and make you feel productive

Accountability Tools

  • These have been absolutely central to my ability and many of my peers’ ability to get work done virtually. It’s easy once you log off a zoom call to step away from the computer and forget that you were going to do work for class.
  • To stave this off, you should identify what accountability mechanisms work best for you.
  • Some ideas that have worked well for me include:
    • Scheduling a regular/weekly homework session over zoom with a friend
    • Google Calendar blocks of time, physical planners, and alarms
    • Aside from that going to office hours helps here—especially if you have work due soon because your professors are usually willing to work with students on or even through some of the assignments they give you—depending on the professor and their availability

Self Care

  • One of the things that’s harder to manage virtually, obviously, is work life balance 
  • To help manage your work life balance, schedule or plan your relaxing time, including meal times and sleep times on top of TV and media time
  • Communicate your self care needs to friends, parents, and even professors as it is relevant—and regularly, because this period will be an experiment in finding what works for you—so have grace with yourself
  • Another tip broadly speaking would be to put your phone on ‘do not disturb’ during classes. It’ll keep you from being distracted and missing key information during a lecture.usuall