Undergraduate Blog

Tips for Online Classes at McIntire

A McIntire student gives pointers on how to get the most out of an online class.

It’s odd to say that every rising second-, third-, and fourth-year now has some online class experience under their belt. That being said, classes at McIntire include group work, class participation, and interactions with our professors outside of the classroom. Below, I’ll be sharing some tips to keep in mind as you strive to reach your fullest potential in an online class with McIntire.

Use online class best practices.
If you’re a rising third-year, you can apply all of your online experience from the spring as a great starting point. Maybe you found that creating a designated workspace (read: NOT doing classes from your bed) or letting the people you’re living with know when to stay out of your room has helped you learn. Whatever worked for you in the past, you should reapply to this coming semester. For me, I’ve found working at my desk, muting my Zoom when I’m not speaking, taking a walk at lunchtime, and leaving my phone on the other side of the room have all helped me focus on and enjoy class more.

Now, moving onto some McIntire-specific best practices: Professors will be working as hard as they can to give their students the best educational experience possible. To that end, be respectful of their efforts by keeping your video on whenever possible and participating as much as you’re comfortable with within the online format. Professors love to interact with their students, and keeping your video on will not only make your professors happy but will help them get to know you better, too.

Interact with your classmates as much as possible.
One of my favorite parts about McIntire is the opportunity to meet and learn from new classmates, as well as potentially making some of your best friends (during my third year, I met some people who I’m confident will be friends for life). There are a few things you can do to keep getting to know everyone despite the virtual setting:

  • If you’re in the Integrated Core Experience (ICE), ask your Block rep to create a GroupMe.
  • Make group chats with the people you know in your classes and ask them to invite others.
  • Schedule virtual study sessions; you don’t have to be talking all of the time, but imitating McIntire’s study rooms via Zoom is a great way to share ideas and knowledge while working on assignments or studying for a test.
  • If it’s a double class session, some professors will leave the Zoom meeting on during the 15-minute break. Stay and chat with your peers just like you would during an in-person break!

Ultimately, remember, even though this fall will look very than any other semester in the past, that doesn’t change anything about what a strong community of peers McIntire will be for you.

Get creative to get to know your professors.
Like meeting new classmates, developing a personal relationship with professors is (in my opinion) one of the most significant benefits McIntire has to offer. The best thing you can do, as I mentioned before, is be respectful: Log on a minute or two early to say hi, keep your video on, and participate as if it was an in-person class. You can also try to mimic the in-person interactions you would have even over Zoom: Instead of asking the professor a question in person after class, ask if they would have a minute to stay after on Zoom. Alternatively, ask if you might be able to schedule a 10-minute video call with them at some point during the week. Make your best effort to get to know them, but be mindful of their time, too (they are just as busy as you are).

Treat online classes with the same focus you would in-person classes.
Even though classes will look different this semester, you should still give them your absolute best effort. That means staying on top of assignments, getting homework done as early as possible, and studying ahead of time for tests. While talking to a few friends about what worked during online classes last semester, we came up with the following list:

  • If you’re in ICE (or other classes with consistent group work), create a shared Google calendar for your group to stay on top of assignments.
  • Create artificial deadlines for yourself to stay on top of work.
  • Try your best to get eight hours of sleep each night to avoid naps during the day.

This semester will certainly be one like no other. However, by giving online classes your absolute best effort, this will no doubt be a successful and exciting semester at McIntire.

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