Guest Contributor: 
Angela Rose Self, Brandeis University, Candidate for Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology, 2022

Brandeis made the switch in the Spring of 2020 to have classes be fully online, which continued into the 2020-2021 academic school year. I was worried at first about making the switch to online courses, as were many of my peers. However, I am happy to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed online courses and the flexibility they brought to my schedule. Instead of having to commute to classes everyday, I was able to spend the extra time studying and tackling my coursework. Also, I now had time to pursue my hobbies that I had little time for before. My professors adapted smoothly to the online format and made the classes engaging. As someone who is naturally quiet in class, the online format allowed me to participate more as I had time to collect my thoughts and express myself through the “chat” function in Zoom, instead of having to speak up in front of the entire class. 

Here are my tips to help you achieve success in an online class setting:

Make a dedicated work space

Now that your home is also the classroom, it is important to make separate spaces for each. Not having separated spaces can make it difficult to transition out of work, especially during periods of rest. I would highly recommend that you dedicate an area of your home, be that a desk, room, or whatever else is available, solely to schoolwork. This can help create a better work-life balance.

Take screen breaks

Staring at a computer screen can be taxing and is something that both my professors and classmates experienced. To avoid the “Zoom burnout,” take breaks from screens between courses and schoolwork. This can include going on a walk, talking to your family, or anything else that gets you away from a screen. Additionally, I have found that this helps me to be more productive during the times that I am working.

Treat online class as you would the classroom

Learning from home, while it can be an amazing experience, does pose some challenges. For instance, there is easier access to distractions (like your phone!) that you normally would not have in the traditional classroom. To eliminate those distractions, I suggest putting them in a drawer or somewhere out of sight for the duration of the class. This can make it easier to focus on the material being discussed. Also, dressing as you would for a normal class can help to create that work-life balance I mentioned earlier. While it can be fun to attend class in your pajamas, long-term I found that getting dressed for class helped me to separate school from other aspects of my life.

Overall, as a student who has taken many courses over Zoom, I recommend to anyone hesitant about taking an online class to do it! Classes are much more flexible and the ability to learn from anywhere can be freeing.

If you are interested in taking an online course this summer, view the Brandeis Summer School website for more details!