Upside to a Virtual College Experience: Becoming a Great Communicator

Engaging in the never-ending, blue-lit cycle of online school can be draining and stressful. We’ve lived in an online world for almost one year now, and I still find myself trying to correctly navigate this virtual college experience. Although this is frustrating, there are some practices I have started to incorporate into my daily routine that can help me, and others, in the long run.

For instance, Zoom fatigue is alive and well. Sitting in the same spot while looking at the same screen for hours on end takes a toll on you and knowing when to give yourself a break is important. In addition, online school will bombard you with more work than you could ever imagine. Writing down tasks and assignments at the beginning of each week will help keep your priorities straight. Also, blue light glasses have quite literally become my saving grace, and wearing them throughout the day has made my headaches subside and given me better sleep at night.

But mostly, I’ve learned the importance of utilizing your communications skills.  Communications majors: This is our time to shine.

Since my virtual journey began last March, I’ve come up with a few takeaways from my experience that can help us all communicate more effectively.

Zoom has room for miscommunication.

Your message can come across differently than you intended through the virtual space. This is similar to the situation where you text someone one thing, and it comes across a totally different way than you meant it to. Ensuring this doesn’t happen is a whole other level of virtual etiquette. Communicating effectively and in a timely manner through email, Canvas (or whatever platform your school uses), text, or Zoom will benefit you and your education in the end. Plus, your peers and professors will be grateful as well.

Make your presence known.

Making connections with professors in the virtual space can be challenging, but some ways you can do it are by introducing yourself to them at the beginning of the semester, participating in class with your camera on or engaging in conversations, and asking questions when you have them. Sometimes, professors are confusing or explain concepts too fast. In that case, it is important you feel comfortable with the professor to clarify things.

Socialize with your peers.

It is very easy to “zone out” when attending virtual classes, clubs, organizations, meetings and other obligations. My advice would be to utilize the Zoom breakout rooms, if available, to understand what you missed. Asking for people’s phone numbers and making a group chat with your classmates is helpful as well. Your peers will thank you later, and will most likely reach out to you if they find themselves in a similar predicament.

The lessons I’ve learned about communicating in the virtual space over the past year go far beyond my undergraduate college experience. These skills will also help me to succeed in my post-graduate years when I join the workforce. Being online certainly isn’t ideal, but this is the reality that COVID-19 has forced us to live with for the time being. We all crave to keep the connection between humans alive while being isolated in our homes, and our amazing technology has given us the chance to do just that. We should seize the opportunity to build upon our communication skills and utilize the virtual space’s tools to do so.