Students have been learning remotely for a while now, and the struggles and adjustments have been numerous. But if there’s one thing you can do to improve your experience over anything else, it’s this: turn on your camera! Yes, I know you might be the only one in the class with it on. Yes, I know it’s an awkward angle. And yes, I know sometimes you like to walk around, fidget, and all around multitask while you’re listening to a lecture over Zoom. But trust me—you want to turn your camera on!
Why should you turn your camera on during online classes?
Because you need letters of recommendation for your college applications.
In the college admission process, most schools want to hear from your junior year teachers in your letters of recommendation because they can give the most recent report of your academic abilities. In the past, this was simple because you had the ease of seeing the same teachers every day and staying after class to get help. It was easier to build a relationship with your teachers; they could likely see your expressions of confusion or your “aha” moments of grasping concepts and be able to offer assistance. In today’s setting of distance learning, if your computer’s camera isn’t on, how will your teacher know if you understand a concept or if you’re truly engaged in class? And if you have a cute nickname like “Zombie Apocalypse Captain” on the screen instead of your actual name, they may not even make the connection that Zombie Apocalypse Captain is really you.
Fast forward to next fall: When it’s time to ask for letters of recommendation from this year’s teachers, can you be sure based off your current relationships with your teachers that they could write strong letters of recommendation because they know you well?
Building real-life relationships online
Here are some suggestions to help build stronger relationships with your teachers even through distance learning.
- Turn your camera on during video calls and use your full name on the screen.
- When the opportunity arises, speak up. Ask questions or contribute to discussions to let the teacher know you’re interested and engaged during class.
- When you have a homework question, ask your teacher during office hours instead of deferring to a Google Search or your classmates for help.
- Make a point to stay after class every once in a while to ask a clarifying question or share your interest in the subject matter.
- If you’re working in an asynchronous classroom and there’s an opportunity to post comments, do so.
Advocating for yourself like this may feel like stepping out of your comfort zone, but building connections with teachers in our remote world will only set you up for success next fall, especially when there’s enough anxiety associated with the college application process and asking for letters of recommendation. It’s time to realize the long-term benefits of such a simple act by turning your camera on.
If you’re still struggling with distance learning, check out these 6 Tips to Transition to Online Learning.