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Hot Girl Semester: How to Succeed on Zoom University

Hot Girl Semester? Seems hard when you’re a part of the #CameraOffMicMutedClub. Whether you’re with me in Jersey, under the palm trees of California, or getting chilly in Illinois, we all belong to the same school now – Zoom University. 

You can be taking a mix of in-person and online classes, or taking them all from the comfort of your bed like me, but we’re all still dealing with similar issues of limited access (if any) to campus, clubs, school friends, etc. So how exactly do we manage to make the most of a semester that’s spent sitting behind a laptop?

Here’s how to make the most of your online education:

Prepare a Space

Your environment can literally make or break your success with online classes. It’s not always possible to have the best set up depending on your circumstances, but as much as possible try to create your ideal space. This can be different for everyone! For me personally, I take each of my classes sitting at my desk. Just behind where I prop my laptop up are inspirational mugs, fun pens, notepads with motivational sayings, rainbow sticky notes, and a whole plethora of other school supplies. Surrounding myself with fun to use, personal picks from a Back-to-School shopping spree makes me feel like I have to be in work mode just so I have an excuse to use those supplies. Keeping up with an aesthetic workspace makes it more enjoyable to study and get organized. On the other hand, I’ve seen some people take their classes from outside on their patio, some sitting on their bed, some cuddled up to their pet. Wherever works for you and helps you to stay focused and engaged, be there the second you punch in that meeting ID and password. Just try to keep it professional!

Get Ready

Now I’m not saying that you should be waking up hours ahead of class time. In fact I’d say that a perk of online classes is that it shaved off time I would’ve spent picking an outfit, putting on makeup, fixing my hair, and walking to class. But I am saying that you should at least wake up with enough time to brush your teeth, throw on some decent clothes (that maybe aren’t pajamas), or maybe even grab a snack. Carrying out even just a part of your normal routine to prepare yourself for class, whether that entails looking over your notes for a bit, drinking a cup of coffee, or cleaning your space, will help you start your day off on the right foot and feel more mentally prepared to learn and be productive.

Give Your Schedule Out

Chances are you’re living with some people: a roommate, parents, siblings. Give them your schedule for the week. Let them know what days and what times you’ll be online for classes so they can hopefully be a bit more mindful of their volume and avoid barging into your room. I like to hang a note up on my door that reads “In Class” right before I join a Zoom call. I do the same when I’m taking exams or just need some extra privacy to stay glued to my work. This can help give you the same focused environment that you might have had sitting in an actual classroom or campus location.

Stay Attentive

We all know that it’s easier to slack off on Zoom in comparison to being in person. You can turn your camera off and mute yourself, and the class would never know that you’re eating your leftover lunch or having a full-blown conversation with your sister. As much as that sounds better than learning about Quantum Physics, try to pay attention and be an active student. After all, this is still your education, and still where your hard earned money and precious time is going. Listen to the lecture, take notes, chime in with questions or comments, reach out to your professors and classmates.

*Tip: Having friends in class makes it so much easier to stay up to date on assignments and coursework, but it can be hard when you can’t physically whisper to them and ask what’s going on. Create a GroupMe for your class, if you don’t already have one! It’s a great way for you to make friends and help each other stay on track academically. People will think you’re a lifesaver for starting it.

Still Get Involved

This one can be a little tougher depending on your schedule and choice of clubs. But try to stay involved in your usual organizations and don’t shy away from joining new ones. Since most of us are spending more time in the house, it might even be easier to find time to stay active with extra curriculars. It’s also a great way to keep yourself productive and healthily occupied during quarantine-when it’s all too easy to feel lonely or lacking things to keep busy. Search up your organizations on the school website, on social media, or reach out to people to learn how they’ll be running events and meetings for the semester. Chances are it’ll be a mix of in person and online components so it’s possible for everyone to stay involved. This is another way for you to get the social interaction you may be missing if you’re fully online for the semester.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

While I’m rooting for you and hoping these tips help, I want to remind you not to be too hard on yourself. The situation the virus has put us in unleashed a whole lot of new pressures and changes in our daily lives. Online classes are one of them. So if you’re struggling to adjust, know that it’s completely understandable, and you’re definitely not the only one. Many campuses, like Montclairs’, still offer services to students that are in need of emotional or mental health support. Those are there for a reason, so take them up on their offer!

Megan Lim

Montclair '23

Megan is currently a sophomore at Montclair State University, majoring in Journalism and minoring in Social Work. Not only does she aspire to be the best writer she can possibly be, but she hopes to be the best version of herself there is at all! Whether that means getting good grades, helping those around her, getting involved, working out, or letting herself binge watch movies - she wants to do it all. Anything that has to do with self-growth, she's doing it!
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