The switch to online classes has been a difficult transition for both new and returning students across Binghamton University. Below are some tips to help out the struggling virtual student:

Treat online classes like in-person classes.

Just because your class isn’t in person doesn’t mean it has to be impersonal. Engage with the lecture just as you would in an in-person class. Speak up, ask and answer questions. It’s easy to feel one step removed over Zoom, but continuing to make your presence known in class will help prevent you from zoning out, and you will be better able to retain course material.

Prepare for your Zoom lectures as you would for an in-person lecture.

I know. It’s tempting to wake up five minutes before class time, throw on a shirt (if even) and click into Zoom a minute before class starts. Why bother getting fully dressed when you don’t have to? In reality, keeping your routine will condition you into a learning mindset, which will make remembering new information easier. Furthermore, your professors will appreciate the time and effort you took to get ready; it’s a sign that you really care about your grade for the class.

Take notes, even if all the material is online.

When you take notes, especially on paper, it forces you to listen closely to what your professors are saying and fully understand the material. Even if all the class materials and lectures are online, it’s good to have notes on hand for quick reference, easy studying, or just to keep past the end of the semester.

Engage with your classmates and professors.

As mentioned above, online classes can sometimes seem so impersonal. Meeting over Zoom takes away the sense of community that can be built in a classroom setting, but this doesn’t mean you’re taking your classes alone. Continue to engage with your classmates: talk over GroupMe, organize study sessions or just go out for socially distanced lunch if you’re on campus. Even if you can’t see your professors in person, they’re still there for you! Continue to attend your professors’ office hours and reach out to them with questions or just for general help.

Create a regular study space.

It’s so easy just to take your classes while laying in bed, but having a designated study space can help improve your focus, information retention and ultimately, your grades. Whether your study space is your desk, your kitchen table or anywhere else, set aside that space for only studying. Not only will being in this space help you focus during class time, leaving it after class will help you unwind.

Minimize distractions.

It’s almost impossible to completely eliminate distractions while taking online classes, especially if you’re living with a roommate. Still, take it upon yourself to do all you can to keep yourself focused. Find the quietest place you can, with few people or pets walking through. Don’t have any other tabs open on your computer besides your Zoom lecture and notes document, if you choose to take notes online. Keep your phone on silent and out of reach and sight.

Stay positive!

Taking most of our classes online is completely unprecedented, so don’t be too hard on yourself! Your professors understand that this transition is difficult for us all, so don’t be afraid to let them know when you are struggling. Continue to take time for the activities you enjoy, and maintain your physical and mental health. A positive mindset is one of the most important ingredients to success — stay optimistic, and you’re sure to thrive in your online classes.