Me Signing into Zoom

Me Signing into Zoom

When NYU first shifted to online learning it seemed like a temporary situation. But now, almost a full year later, students continue to rely on complete or partial virtual settings. NYU has been able to allow students back on campus, with a mix of in-person classes and completely virtual classes. I’m a Graduating Senior and I’ve had completely virtual classes for the entire year.

The physical setting and energy of NYU was one of the most appealing aspects when I toured the university. I always loved walking to campus buildings, getting lost in massive crowds of students, and tapping into the library for a late night study session. The constant movement of the city made school feel exciting.

Now we find ourselves in an unprecedented situation, where the movement of everyday life has taken on a new meaning. As a result, students around the globe have had to adjust to a new mode of educational institution. Virtual learning can be overwhelming, frustrating, and even tiring, so it’s important to find creative ways to cope. Here are some of my tips and tricks for staying engaged in a virtual setting.

Be Kind to Yourself

First and foremost: be kind to yourself. We are living through weird and scary times, and the added stress of online learning is overwhelming. At first, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough in online school. However, it’s important to recognize we are all trying to figure out how to handle such an unprecedented situation. Be kind to yourself, and take steps that make the most sense for you. Remember that you’re not alone. Here’s what I do to remind myself of this:

  1. Talk frequently with friends via FaceTime or Zoom.
  2. Make over the top snacks and coffee drinks, because why not!
  3. Go outside for at least an hour a day.
  4. Listen to my body and rest or take breaks when needed.


Participation and Attention
Me on my phone during class
Me on my phone during class

When we first shifted to online learning, I found myself goofing off way too much. I would cook, exercise, or browse social media during my classes instead of actively paying attention. To me, it seemed harmless since I was technically listening to the course content. I found myself falling behind, which left me feeling foolish. I realized that although school was virtual, I needed to treat it with some resemblance of when it was in-person. Here’s what I do:

  1. Turn my phone to silent while in class or doing work. If possible, putting it in another room also helps.
  2. Bring snacks to Zoom class (in case a craving hits!).
  3. If available, find a quiet place to sit with my earphones in.
  4. Use the Zoom chat feature as a means for participation.
Contacting Professors
Me convincing myself to go to office hours
Me convincing myself to go to office hours

In my experience, my professors have been extremely understanding of the challenges students face in virtual learning. Cameras can feel invasive, WiFi doesn’t always work, and sometimes class can seem chaotically pointless. But it’s important to remember that professors are a resource for you, and it’s important to reach out if needed. Here’s what I do:

  1. Use virtual office hours to gain a better grasp on content.
  2. Ask for extra time on assignments if needed – the answer isn’t always yes, but it’s worth asking!
  3. Keep my professors updated on how I’m doing mentally or emotionally, and how my work is affected.
Homework or Binge-Watch
Me ignoring all my assignments
Me ignoring all my assignments

I can’t say that I’ve mastered the idea of prioritizing assignments over binge-watching TV. I’m a master procrastinator. Just last week I watched the entire season of Bling Empire on Netflix instead of writing a paper. With that being said, here are things I’ve been trying to do:

  1. Visually laying out which assignments are due for certain classes and when they’re due.
  2. Adding TV shows and movies to a long watch list -I try and be very picky about what gets put on the list!
  3. Setting reminders for due dates well in advance.
  4. Work In Progress: Recently I’ve tried completing all of my school related work before 7:00 p.m., so I can have the rest of the night to either study, watch some content, or both!
  5. Taking a break when needed – if I ever find myself becoming increasingly anxious, I take a quick YouTube video break!
We're All in This Together

We’re all trying to adjust to a new mode of learning and interaction online. It’s challenging and people find their own unique ways of coping. I hope these tips and tricks helped, but I hope you are able to find new and creative ways to better navigate online learning. After all, we’re all in this together.

Zachary is currently a Senior in the Steinhardt school studying Media, Culture, & Communication. He comes from a farming background and grew up working on his family owned apple orchard in southern New York – YEE HAW! Zachary spent his first two years at NYU as an Undecided student in the College of Arts and Science, before discovering his passion for representation within media and content creation. He has a strong interest in pop-culture and has interned at PAPER Magazine, writing for their ‘Stan Stories’ series about the culture of fandoms as well as pieces on numerous pop-culture updates. He has also worked in Marketing for Private Health Care Practice and Social Media for his family’s orchard and distillery businesses.