5 Ways to Not Lose Your Mind in Zoom University

Wescott Building at Florida State University Photo by Ernie A. Stephens from Pixabay This is it. We are officially in that time of the year where new freshmen students roll into their universities of choice freshly out of the rollercoaster that is high school, which towards the end, feels ONLY like the upward trend full of nerves, often anxiety and stress, and the expectation of what’s to come. Campuses are filled with first-year students dressed perfectly, hurrying to their next lecture while precariously balancing a cup of coffee, their laptop and a bag all in the same hand. At the same time, Google Maps navigates them to the approximate location of their class at least 5 minutes before class (you think your life is doomed if in your freshman year and you don’t make it to lectures on time). Upper-level students are usually a little more leisurely in their approach, embracing friends who they haven’t seen during the summer, catching up over breakfast from the dining hall, rolling into class dressed in whatever they could grab off their cupboard at the last second, at least 10 minutes late (don’t lie to yourself, we have all been there).

What is different this time around though is how our houses have become campuses, our kitchens have become dining halls, our beds have become the classroom and social distancing has been sucking the life out of all of us. And for the rare few who have the even rarer in-person classes, constant sanitising, maintaining distance and wearing protective gear is the new normal. Considering our college experiences have all been essentially ripped from us or are a fraction of what they are supposed to be, it’s very easy to feel sad, upset, disgruntled, angry or even downright depressed as you stare at the screen of your laptop watching lectures, seminars and whatnot for hours on end. Is there a solution? Not really. Is there a way to make it a little better and more comfortable? You bet there is. Here are five tips to stay on top of Zoom university and not fall the dark hole of endless sadness over the state of the world (that is a whole different conversation). 

Woman holding a white mug with breakfast food and a book open on a bed Pexels / The Lazy Artist Gallery 1. GET READY FOR THE DAY

We genuinely mean it. As tempting as it seems to wake up a second before class begins and start the Zoom call half awake, still in your PJs with bed hair and half-open eyes (and brain, who are we kidding, it is 8 in the morning!), you are way more likely to pay more attention and feel like things are on track if you are dressed appropriately. Usually, if you don’t feel like you look disgruntled, you feel more productive and don’t feel disgruntled either!

 

2. SOCIALISE

Woman staring at phone at night Photo by mikoto.raw from Pexels

We can sense the side glares and shaking-of-heads and the usual “how do I socialise when I can’t meet anyone?”. Answer: Use social media to your advantage. Instead of scrolling through Instagram’s explore page for hours, find group chats of students with common interests (can be anything from baking to partying), find students from your course so that when you are eventually allowed on campus, you aren’t struggling alone. Sign up for societies even if they seem silly (we love our chocolate milk society, it's so fun). Considering everyone is in the same boat of misery over missing out on the best time of your life, seeing that your beliefs and feeling are shared by a plethora of people helps stabilise your emotions.

 

3. MAKE USE OF OFFICE HOURS

Black woman learning Photo by Nappy.co

Yes, we are serious. If your professor or your teaching assistant or any staff from your course is willing to set up office hours or virtual student drop-ins, make use of them! You might end up building a strong relationship with your teaching staff, and even though it won’t get those two points you’re missing to scrape an A in that class, it definitely will be a massive help if later you need recommendations or referrals and your professors know you.

 

4. STICK TO A SCHEDULE

minimalist office space with a full agenda Photo by STIL from Unsplash

This is a rather important one, especially since many of us struggle with time differences between our home states and university states, and with how things are, professors have given us the liberty to watch pre-recorded material which can be done anytime. But here is the catch, the human brain likes to perceive “anytime” as “I’ll do it later” and we all know how that ends. One thing leads to another, and suddenly your 2000 word report which you had a month to do is due the next morning, and you have nothing written.  Do things when they are supposed to be done. Structure your work, so you don’t feel overburdened but also so that you don’t lag. Make a daily to-do list of small, attainable tasks with sufficient breaks to relax and tick off tasks as you finish them (trust us, there is nothing more satisfying than striking off a particularly tricky task and feeling proud of yourself for doing that.)

 

5. BE EASY ON YOURSELF

person holding book in a bath Photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels

This is a challenging and unprecedented time, and everybody is equally unprepared for it. While your professors find a way to give you campus learning opportunities online, remember that it is okay to be overwhelmed, it is okay to be upset, it is okay to be disheartened. Support others and ask for help if you need it. Just cry it out at times. Difficult times can be tasking, but you don’t have to be tasking on yourself. Breaking down does not make you weak.

 

We hope you survive Zoom university with flying colours and make it back to physical campuses soon. Until then, try not to go crazy, wear your masks, wash your hands, sanitise everything and keep social distancing :)