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Opinion: How to make the most of your Zoom university experience

(Alice Zhang/Daily Bruin)

By EJ Panaligan

Aug. 18, 2020 10:00 a.m.

So, you’re starting your journey at UCLA, and it seems like the school you applied to last fall will look nothing like the one you’ll be attending in a couple of months.

An entire campus of exploration, learning and discovering will be consolidated into your measly computer screen. It’s not ideal, but a moment like this was never meant to be. Your first quarter at UCLA will be spent taking courses through Zoom. And while you’ve likely had a brief taste of online classes, I’d like to believe that UCLA Zoom classes are an entirely different animal.

So, with that in mind, here’s a quick list of lessons and takeaways that will hopefully get you going on the right foot in October.

Read the course syllabus once. Then again. And three times more.

It is crucial to have a complete understanding of what is expected of you in each of your classes. Lectures may be live but not attendance-mandatory, meaning you can watch those recordings whenever it is most comfortable for you. Certain readings and assignments – even exams – may be optional. The variance of class difficulty still exists in Zoom university, meaning it’s up to you to decide which classes require more effort and which classes you can ease up on.

Establish a solid line of communication with classmates, teaching assistants and professors early on.

Perhaps the best way to break the inevitable monotony of taking online classes at home is to keep in constant communication with fellow classmates and those teaching the Zoom classes.

“It sucks that we don’t have the same interaction that we were able to in the classroom,” said Atreyi Mitra, a fourth-year human biology and society and public affairs student. “But I think freshmen and incoming transfers really need to work to supplement that interaction through office hours.”

In addition to office hours, class group chats can facilitate collaboration on assignments and studying for exams. They can also be used to collectively complain about that one student who asks way too many questions during lectures. Remember that everyone will likely be quarantining at home as well, and in times of isolation, it’s nice to have a friend.

Plan out your days, but don’t feel discouraged at the first sight of derailment.

With lecture and discussion times not set in stone and traveling between classes no longer being necessary, planning out your days has become a lot easier. But be sure to set aside time to eat, relax and focus on yourself. And if your plans fall through, don’t stress yourself out too much – improvisation is key to staying afloat amid such heavy coursework. The quarter system can be a sprint, but burning out early on won’t do you any good either.

These brief points are merely suggestions – everyone learns and studies differently. But take these points to heart and your Zoom university experience will feel much more manageable and achievable.

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EJ Panaligan | Senior staff
Panaligan is a senior staffer for the Arts and Entertainment and Opinion sections. He was previously the Opinion editor in 2020-21, and created the "Columns From Quarantine" Opinion column series. For the Arts and Entertainment section, he regularly contributes features, columns, reviews and Q&As to the Music | Fine Arts beat. He also co-created the "Life and Hip-Hop" Arts column series. He is from Carson, California but unabashedly dreams of a professional life in New York City.
Panaligan is a senior staffer for the Arts and Entertainment and Opinion sections. He was previously the Opinion editor in 2020-21, and created the "Columns From Quarantine" Opinion column series. For the Arts and Entertainment section, he regularly contributes features, columns, reviews and Q&As to the Music | Fine Arts beat. He also co-created the "Life and Hip-Hop" Arts column series. He is from Carson, California but unabashedly dreams of a professional life in New York City.
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