As college students, I don't feel as if people give us enough credit for how strange this transition has been to online learning because of the pandemic. There is no "classroom environment" when we do class from our own beds. There is no socializing on the walks to class and we can't really meet new people in a Zoom environment the way we used to when we would sit next to somebody. While we can appreciate the effort being put forth by our professors to be as accommodating as possible, I think even they would agree with us that it would be nice to never have to take another Zoom class again. We have the whole internet in front of us while in class nowadays. Some of us are used to that and take notes on our computers. Some of us (including me) are being opened up to a whole new world of distraction. Notifications are constantly popping up and interrupting my train of thought and I am even guilty of online shopping in class. The stress of falling behind in classes due to Zoom fatigue is an entirely new concept to us, so here are some tips for staying focused in online school.
1. Personalize your setup
You are now responsible for your own classroom, so make it cute! Set up a desk area in your room that you can decorate with pictures or candles or your favorite seasonal items. Right now, I currently have a pumpkin and a fall candle on my desk, two things that remind me of my favorite time of year. Personalizing your setup will help you feel more relaxed, for you can minimize the distractions around you and set up an environment to be productive in.
2. Plan your meals ahead of time
Sitting in class when you're super hungry is the worst! When doing class at home, you can easily grab something to eat at any time; however, this can be distracting! Plan your meals the same way you would if you had class in person, this way you can spend your class time listening instead of running around the kitchen fetching ingredients.
3. Communicate with your Professors
Your professors are not trying to throw you curveballs and test your limits right now, for they are also undergoing such a harsh transition into online learning. Think about how many professors are uncomfortable with using the Internet in general, and now they have to teach their entire classes on a screen! Be honest with them and use their office hours to either receive extra help or tell them how overwhelmed you feel. They are there to help you now more than ever!
Participation in class does not have to mean answering every question, but maybe take detailed notes throughout your lectures. I am guilty of not taking notes when I know the professor will post the Powerpoint online, but notes can help you focus! By writing down what they are saying, it's easier to participate in class than just listening to a lecture. Also, don't be afraid to ask questions! If you're too nervous to talk, you can try typing them in the chat function.
5. Find Friends in Your Classes
This does not mean privately messaging people on Zoom, for those messages will remain visible to your professor when the session has ended, but text your friends for help! When I was really struggling in class, I ended up reaching out to a girl that I hadn't spoken to in a few years. I was thankful to learn that she was also struggling and nervous to say so, for it made me feel less alone and overwhelmed. If you're a freshman or don't know anyone in your class, try reaching out to somebody you may recognize or have been in a discussion group with before. Odds are, they're in the same boat and will recognize you too! These friends can also be helpful further down the line if you need homework help or missed something in class. Having someone to reach out to when class gets confusing will make you feel less alone, even when you're behind a computer screen.
All of these tips can hopefully help you stay focused for the remainder of your Zoom semester. Remember, you are not alone in feeling anxious about the transition to online school!