Category: Student Profile (page 1 of 2)

Tips to help you achieve success in an online class setting

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!

Summer School helps Transfer Students Catch up with Brandeis University Requirements

Nyah Macklin comes to Brandeis from New Haven, CT to study African and African American Studies.  As a transfer student, she took advantage of summer school so she can graduate in a timely fashion. For Nyah, it came down to a choice between taking calculus or organic chemistry over the summer session last year. She chose to learn organic chemistry. Although the class is the largest in the Summer School, Nyah felt at many times like she was getting one on one attention. The class was structured and taught in a way that took advantage of the ability to focus in depth on a single subject.


During the academic year, Nyah is very active in her college community serving as undergraduate student union president. She is also heavily involved in theatre activities at Brandeis with the Undergraduate Theater Collective, Brandeis Ensemble Theater, and Company B Acapella.

This summer Brandeis welcomes a new lecturer in Organic Chemistry, Kristen Mascall, who will be teaching the following courses in Organic Chemistry that Nyah took last year:

CHEM 25a – Organic Chemistry, Lectures

Summer Session I: June 1 to July 3, 2015
Prerequisite: A satisfactory grade (C- or better) in CHEM 10b, 11b, 15b or the equivalent. The corresponding lab for this course is CHEM 29a, Sage class number: 2159. This course meets the first half of the organic chemistry, biology, premedical, and pre-dental majors when taken in conjunction with the laboratory course CHEM 29a. It is also useful for individuals in the physical and life science fields who wish to gain a working knowledge of organic chemistry. The course will examine the important classes of organic compounds of chemical, biological, and medicinal interest. Attention is focused on the relationship between structure and reactivity. Current theoretical concepts of structure, bonding, and mechanism form a basis for the interpretation of the properties and interactions as well as the synthesis and transformation of a wide range of organic compounds.

CHEM 25b – Organic Chemistry, Lectures

Summer Session II: July 6 to August 7, 2015
Prerequisite: A satisfactory grade (C- or better) in CHEM 25a or its equivalent. The corresponding lab for this course is CHEM 29b, Sage class number: 2160. As a continuation of CHEM 25a, this course meets the second half of the organic chemistry requirement for chemistry, biology, premedical, and pre-dental majors when taken in conjunction with the laboratory course, CHEM 29b.

CHEM 29a – Organic Chemistry Laboratory I

Summer Session I: June 1 to July 3, 2015
Prerequisite: A satisfactory grade (C- or better) in CHEM 18b or 19b or the equivalent. Corequisite: CHEM 25a. Dropping CHEM 25a necessitates written permission from the lab instructor to continue with the lab. May yield half-course credit toward rate of work and graduation. Two semester hour credits. The laboratory affords practical experience in the purification, isolation, and analysis of organic compounds. Various techniques include extraction, distillation, chromatography, and crystallization.

CHEM 29b – Organic Chemistry Laboratory II

Summer Session II: July 6 to August 7, 2015
Prerequisite: A satisfactory grade (C- or better) in CHEM 29a or the equivalent. Corequisite: CHEM 25b. Dropping CHEM 25b necessitates written permission from the lab instructor to continue with the lab. May yield half-course credit toward rate of work and graduation. Two semester hour credits. A continuation of CHEM 29a. This course is designed to give experience in the important techniques of organic synthesis. It includes synthesis of typical organic compounds and characterization using analytic and instrumental procedures.

See How Summer School Gave Adam an Experience He will Never Forget

Adam Mandel of New York studies Health: Science, Society, & Policy (HSSP) at Brandeis. He began taking Summer School classes after his first year at Brandeis. In the summer of 2012  he took Prof. Elaine Lai’s BISC 4bj Food, Nutrition, and Health course. The following summer he enrolled in HSSP 100B Introduction to Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Population Health, a required course for his major which is hard to get into because of its limited enrollment. Little did Adam know how this post-first year and post-sophomore summers would pave the way for his future.

Last year, after his third year at Brandeis, the soon-to-be graduate applied to the Food, Lifestyle, and Health Justice Brandeis Semester. Because he had completed Prof. Lai’s course in nutrition, Adam was able to replace that component of the Food Nutrition and Health JBS with an Undergraduate Teaching Assistantship. That role gave Adam invaluable insights and skills into working with his peers. He also met his HSSP internship requirement and was the recipient of several post-graduation job offers. “This course changed my life” he reports. “The entire experience left me with both the academic and personal abilities that will help me thrive in my career.”

Adam-Mandel-Brandeis-Summer-StudentAdam is a competitive fencer at Brandeis. As an athlete and HSSP major he has a strong interest in health promotion and disease prevention. Applying the nutritional knowledge he took away from his JBS courses, Adam was able to up his physical conditioning. He and his teammates went to NCAA Regionals and earned two medals at this year’s New England Intercollegiate Fencing Championships.

You never know where summer courses at Brandeis can take you!

Check out what Brandeis summer course offerings are available.

See Why Sara keeps Coming Back to Brandeis Summer School

Sara Hazelnis of Liberty, NY is a current Brandeis senior who studies Public Health  & Psychology.  She discovered Brandeis Summer School in 2011 and has been drawn back each summer by the small class sizes and the way in which summer courses are delivered. She also notes that there are more opportunities in the summer for hands-on learning than in the fall and spring semesters, particularly with the Justice Brandeis Semester offerings.

Sara-Hazelnis-Brandeis-summer-schoolAs an aspiring health educator, last summer Sara took the opportunity to be a teaching assistant for the JBS  Food, Lifestyle, & Health  course with Dr. Elaine Lai. “Participating in the Food, Lifestyle, and Health JBS course was the most rewarding academic and career building experience I have ever had at Brandeis” she says. “Not only was I able to fulfill requirements necessary for the HSSP major, I was able to get more in depth with the material than I ever thought possible and subsequently found my future career path.”

During the regular academic year at Brandeis Sara works in the Hiatt Career Center as a Hiatt advisor, office attendant, and alumni relations intern. You can also find her working as a junior manager at the Brandeis Bookstore.

These are some of the other great summer courses that Sara has taken at Brandeis:
Psychological Research Methods
Health, Community, and Society
Medicine, Body, and Culture
Healthcare Landscapes, and Diabetes.

See a full listing of our summer courses by department to explore the great opportunities there are for you.


How One Student Put Herself On the Fast Track to Graduation

Naomi Shine came to Brandeis University all the way from Lubbock, Texas to study the intersection between health policy and business. She knew what she wanted to do right from the start and quickly realized that she could accelerate her college career to complete her degree in just three years. The financial benefits of that, along with the ability to enter the workforce early were incredibly appealing.

In order to complete her college degree in such as short time, Naomi turned to Brandeis Summer School in 2013 and again in 2014. She used the summer sessions to complete Brandeis core curriculum requirements in Creative Arts, Humanities, Non-Western and Comparative Studies, and Social Science. As she returned to live in Texas for the summers, she appreciated the quality and availability of online course offerings.

Naomi’s ambition and motivation kept her an active participant in extracurricular activities as well, which enhanced her college experience that much more. “Each semester I aimed to participate in a Mountain Club trip, which took me zip-lining in New Hampshire and kayaking in Plum Island, MA. I also made an effort to participate in after-school programming for local elementary school students in the Waltham area for most of my time at Brandeis” she reports. She also became an Undergraduate Departmental Representative for her major Health: Science, Society, and Policy,  and Peer Assistant for the course “Managing Medicine.”

brandeis-summer-alumni-in-NYCAfter wrapping up her courses and completing her degree last summer, Naomi was making preparations to return to her family in Lubbock. Then a job posting by an alum appeared on her Brandeis major’s listserv. That posting altered the course of Naomi’s life. Its timing and her preparation were perfectly aligned. She’s happily living in New York City and working in her aspirational field as a health care consultant.

With the right motivation and inspiration, you too can have the successful experience that Naomi had. We hope you’ll consider some of our great summer course offerings this year.

Summer enrollment is now OPEN!

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