Things I wish I knew last time we went online

Ah yes, March 2020… the good old days! Back when we watched Tiger King, danced to “Say So” by Doja Cat and made sourdough bread — it’s also when we naively believed that online classes were only going to last until the end of the semester. How wrong we were! Now, almost two years later, here we are again: back to the blank stares of our remote Zoom classmates.

I often think back to those times and funnily enough I miss it — things were so much easier when you had hope that quarantine and online learning were all temporary. On the other hand, I realized that there was so much I didn’t know about virtual learning that I wish I could go back in time to tell myself.

Look away

My biggest piece of advice is to rest your eyes! This is probably the most important. After hours on end staring at my screen (three-hour Zoom lectures are going to be the reason I’ll need reading glasses by the age of 25), I often realize I have a splitting headache.

I tried blue light glasses, tried to take breaks from looking at my laptop — but I always end up just checking my phone — I tried setting alarms or reminders, leaving little post-it notes on my desk saying, “Look up!” Finally, I found that the only way to tear my eyes from the screen was to ensure I was doing something else: painting, writing, going for a walk, etc. Rest your eyes!


It can also feel extremely isolating to have your life exist on a screen. Sometimes, it’s easy to go days without really talking to anyone (friends, family, classmates, fellow club members, etc.) especially when nobody has anything particularly interesting to share or talk about.

Find things to do virtually with people to keep yourself social: game nights, watching a TV show on FaceTime, Zoom study sessions — it may seem pointless and exhausting, but it is worth spending time with people who are important to you.

Cameras on

On to the more academic side of things: it’s a lot easier to fall behind in online classes. As annoying as it is, keeping your camera on during lectures is a great way of keeping yourself accountable and making sure you’re paying attention. It’s also nice for profs to be able to see some friendly faces in the crowd (online classes are hard for them too)!

Also, you’re kidding nobody but yourself when you say you’ll watch the pre-recorded lectures later on in the day… watch them live! You’ll regret it when we get to midterm season!

All of which to say, this is a hard time for us all — be kind to yourself, take things easy and, even if it is sometimes hard to do, stay hopeful.