Connecting with Professors and Classmates Online

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With classes being conducted online this upcoming fall term, it can be difficult to build relationships with professors and peers. Without face-to-face, weekly interaction, it’s so easy to forgo making connections, and just work on your own. However, solid relationships with professors and peers are the foundation of a successful college experience. Having a rapport with professors not only helps you succeed in the current course, but into future courses, and possibly your career path, as well (hello, letters of recommendation!). Relationships with peers undoubtedly aids students in their academic journey, as students can get notes from fellow students if they happen to miss a class period, create peer study groups, easily confirm due dates, etc. Because these relationships are crucial, we’ve compiled four ways to connect with professors and peers during fall term. Check them out below!

Email: This is likely the most common mode of communication you will be using throughout the term, and is one of the easiest ways to quickly reach out to a classmate or professor. At the start of the term, it’s a good idea to compile a list of the email addresses of your current professors. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the class, it might be helpful to reach out to a few classmates via email to see if they would be interested in keeping in contact throughout the course. To make communication easier, you might want to share cell phone numbers, as texting is often quicker and more convenient than email.

Zoom Office Hours: Your professors will hold office hours each term, which should be located in the syllabus. During office hours on Zoom, professors will open up a meeting, and students can join to discuss coursework and any issues they may be having in the class. It would be beneficial to attend office hours at the beginning of the term, to introduce yourself to the professor and to discuss expectations of the class. Creating this personal connection early on will certainly make it easier to approach the professor later in the term.

Moodle/Canvas: During this term, courses will be conducted using Moodle and/or Canvas. Both software have opportunities for students to participate in discussion forums, allowing them to communicate with classmates, much like an in-person discussion. These forums are an excellent way for students to connect with their classmates. Often, professors require a certain amount of responses for a student to meet, but, even if it is not required for the class, it is a good idea to respond to your fellow classmates’ posts. Even just a quick “wow, I had never thought of it that way,” shows that you’re engaged with the class, and it makes it easier for your peers to reach out to you in the future.

Study Groups: Study groups are a fantastic way to solidify concepts learned in class, as well as gain invaluable insight from your classmates. With online learning, it can be a little more difficult to facilitate these study groups, but, luckily, there is a plethora of resources available. Using email, texting, Moodle/Canvas or any combination of the three to reach out to classmates and gauge their interest in a study group is a great place to start. These groups could be held over video conferencing software, like Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts. Meeting weekly or bi-weekly for the duration of the course will help students create a structured schedule, and discuss any issues with the material as they arise.

Overall, building these relationships are incredibly important to ensuring a student’s academic success. Professors and peers create a student’s support system, and facilitating long-lasting academic relationships will assist a student in their academic pursuits, as well as into their professional lives.

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