Zoom Tips For College Students

by Tim Chesonis | Last Updated: September 9, 2020

What Zoom Tips do you recommend for College Students?

There are three main things that you need to focus on in order to get the most out of an online Zoom class for school.

1) Make certain that your attitude is right.
2) Make it a point to participate.
3) Ensure that you practice good etiquette while online.

As I write this article the world is in the midst of the Covid 19 Pandemic, however, all the tips provided here will still apply long after the pandemic subsides.

Attitude is Everything

You cannot tailor-make the situations in life, but you can tailor-make the attitudes to fit those situations.
– Zig Zigler

As I write this article, we are 6 months into the Covid Pandemic. I want to acknowledge right up front that you are right. It is not fair. It is not fair that you paid good money to attend college with the full expectation that you would be sitting in a classroom setting with the ability to interact with your professor and other classmates.

However, keep in mind that though this is not optimal, you still can get a great education, but you will have to work extra hard to get that education. Your school does not determine how much you get out of it. You do. The attitude that you take will have a significant impact on how much you get out of your class.

Again, I agree. It is not fair if you are being forced to attend school remotely, using Zoom to get the education that you paid for. But given that you don’t have a choice, understand that the attitude that you take is by far, the biggest determining factor in gaining an excellent education, even if they are limited to online Zoom classes. You chose the school you are attending for a reason. Be sure that you get everything out the education offered.

Let’s take a look at some tips that will help you get the most out of your Zoom class sessions.

Participation is Even More Important Than Ever

Participation in any class is important, but it is probably more important when meeting via an online Zoom meeting. The reason for this is because that natural tendency is to sit back and allow distraction to draw your attention. Distraction has many faces, and is the enemy of a great education. The way to counter distraction is to participate.

One way to participate is by taking notes, just as you would a classroom setting on campus. Another way is to virtually raise your hand, (you can do that in the Zoom app), and wait to be called upon to ask a question.

When you do participate, it will not go unnoticed. Not only will your Professor notice, but your colleagues will as well, and by asking questions, you just may encourage others to do the same. This can create an environment where everybody will want to get involved.

When participating in an online Zoom meeting with other students, keep in mind that it is primarily an instructional class where your professor will do the teaching and you will be doing all of the listening. It is not the time to debate or argue a point, unless of course, your professor specifically allows time for that.

Ensure Clear Communication from Your Professor

If you do not understand the concept that your teacher is covering, by all means, make it a point to ask them to go over that item again, right then and there. Most students will not do this, to their detriment. Because they don’t communicate that they don’t understand what is going on, and don’t understand the concept that has been taught, the teacher will move on assuming that everybody understands.

Remember, you are paying that teacher to communicate a concept to you. If you don’t understand the concept that is being taught, then why are you paying them? Make certain that you thoroughly understand what is being communicated, and if that means that your Professor has to change the pace of what is being taught, then so be it. If you do not understand what is being taught, there is an extremely high probability that nearly everybody else in the class also does not understand what is being taught. Unfortunately, they are afraid to let their teacher know that they don’t understand the material being taught.

A good teacher will always ask if there are any questions regarding the material that has been taught, and allow time for those questions to be answered.

Zoom Etiquette for College Students

There are certain things that you should and should not do while in class via a Zoom meeting. Often times, we don’t realize that our behavior is affecting others in a Zoom meeting. For that reason, take the following tips under consideration.

When Entering a Zoom Meeting, be Certain to Mute Yourself Before Joining

When joining a Zoom meeting, assume that the everyone can hear you and everyone around you. The Zoom meeting should force all incoming participants to automatically be muted upon arrival, but assume meeting organizer did not set it up that way. The last thing you want to do is to draw attention to yourself, as this could be quite embarrassing.

Don’t Monopolize the Conversation

Often times, people who monopolize a conversation, don’t realize that they are doing so, until it is embarrassingly too late. Just be cognizant of how many questions you have asked, or how many comments you have made verbally. When someone monopolizes the conversation, it turns people off.

Instead, utilize the chat window within the Zoom session. When you leave a comment or ask a questions, you’ll find that others within your class will more often than not, respond in a helpful manner.

Do Not Have a Conversation with Family Members During a Zoom Meeting

It is important to make your family or friends aware that you are in an online class. Let them know that your colleagues can see and hear everything that transpires behind your computer screen, (when you are not muted).

It is equally important that your colleagues in class do not see you having a conversation with others around you, (even if you are muted). It is distracting, and people will naturally try to figure out what is being said and what is going on. If you need to have a conversation with a family member or friend in the middle of your zoom class, excuse yourself by clicking the camera icon to disable it, and be sure to disable the microphone icon to mute yourself. Once you have finished, you can join the meeting once again.

Be Sure to Enunciate when you Speak in a Zoom Meeting

Most people are not mic’ed when they join a Zoom meeting. They depend on the built-in microphone of the device that they are connecting with. Though these microphones do a good job for the most part, they do require you to speak louder than you normally would. Enunciating your words goes a long way to ensure that others in class can hear what you are saying.

If you have a habit of mumbling your words when speaking to someone face-to-face, your classmates will almost certainly have a very difficult time hearing what you are saying in a Zoom classroom setting.

Dress Appropriately

You should ALWAYS dress as though you were attending class in person, and in most cases, you should probably dress better, (I’ll explain why in a minute). Before I address that, however, remember that there is a lot of truth behind dressing for success. If you dress the part, you dress for success, you will find yourself more engaged in your work. Remember, others have to see you too. Though it may be acceptable to wear a t-shirt and sweats to class on campus, that’s not acceptable attire in the real world, in almost any job. Dress for success.

Men

Men tend not to care how they dress, especially when attending an online class. Care. It makes a difference in how people perceive you, . . . . and I shouldn’t have to say this, but wear pants.

You never know when someone may knock at your door, or you spill something at your desk, and without thinking, you leap up to avoid getting wet from the coffee that you just spilled. Needless to say, you will be very embarrassed if when you leap out of your chair, you show more than you intended.

Women

As a man, I’m going to be blunt and to the point. Dress as though you were going to an interview for a job. Be sure that you do not wear a low cut blouse or a tight t-shirt when joining a Zoom meeting. Why? Because you will be a distraction. In the real world, a man can not get away with staring at your . . . blouse . . . for an extended period of time. However, during a Zoom meeting, he can stare and fantasize about you the entire time you are online.

If that is the type of attention you want, presenting yourself in that manner during a Zoom meeting is not the time or the place. It’s not fair to your classmates who want to learn. Enough said.

Do not Speak Over One Another

In a Zoom environment, be sure to show respect by not talking over someone else. If you find yourself in a debate, or argument, take turns and allow the other person to finish before you speak. If they are monopolizing airtime, simply say, “May I speak?”. Repeat that statement as necessary. What others in the class will see is a manipulative bully trying to talk over you.

When the time comes for you to speak, people will listen with intent. Your classmates will want to know how you will respond to the “bully”.

Your Environment Makes a Difference

The environment in which you conduct your zoom meeting is very important, but not just for you. It will make a difference for your classmates as well. Distraction is everywhere,

Do NOT Walk Around While on a Zoom Meeting

If you are connecting to the Zoom meeting via your cell phone or tablet, be sure to mount it in a fixed position. Whatever you do , do NOT walk around with your device, as this is extremely distracting to others in class. They will watch you, instead of listening to the lesson.

If you can’t attend class with your device in a stationary position, it is better to skip class. Walking while on a Zoom call is very distracting, and rude to others who are trying to pay attention. However, if you absolutely must attend class while walking outside, be sure to mute yourself, (as the wind and your heavy breathing will be picked up by your mic). Additionally, if you must walk outside during class, make certain that you disable the camera so that people can not see you. In effect, you won’t be participating, but will only be listening.

Ensure You are in a Quiet Environment

Be sure to place a sign on the door to let others know that you are “In Class”.

When you join your online class, be sure that you are in a quiet environment. I can not over-emphasize how important this is. Turn off the fan. Turn off the ceiling fan. Turn off the air-conditioner. Anything that causes background noise, and don’t forget to turn off the music.

Make Sure the Room is Clean

Most students find that the only place in their house where they can find a quiet place is in their bedroom. Remember, that people are not only watching you, but they are also learning things about you. Like it or not, they are making judgements based on what they see, and if the room where you are recording has a messy background, they will ascribe that mess to you as a person.

If it is not possible to present a clean background, (for whatever reason), set up a temporary table with your back facing the wall. Just make sure that you are close to the wall, (no more than 5 feet). This will limit what people can see. It also keeps the creepers from creeping on you.

Privacy Concerns

I’ve alluded to this a little bit earlier, but it warrants more discussion. As I am sure you are well aware, there are creepers out there, and as horrible as this sounds, they LOVE Zoom meetings. They love Zoom meetings because they can gawk at you, while fantasizing about you. This is why I encouraged you to dress appropriately any time you are in a Zoom meeting.

These creepers will also try to find out anything they can about you online, and if you open up a view to your bedroom, you are only feeding their depravity. With this in mind, I would highly recommend that you use a Zoom background, preferably a blurred background. With that in mind, let’s take a minute to discuss Zoom backgrounds.

How to Use Zoom Backgrounds

Zoom has done a great job in offering both still and animated backgrounds for you to choose from. Using such a background protects your privacy. It prevents people from seeing what your house (or worse yet, bedroom), looks like.

Although you have the ability to make it look like you are sitting at the beach with palm trees blowing in the wind behind you, I highly recommend that you only use still images as the background, or better yet, activate the blurred the background.

The best option is set up a table that is no more than 5 feet from the wall. Position your computer (or device), so that your back is facing the wall. Now, place a still image as the Zoom background or use the blurred background. This way, people will not be able to glean any information about you, and your privacy will be protected.

One final note about using Zoom backgrounds. Get comfortable and sit still. This way, the still image background you are using will be convincing. If you move forward or backward, it throws off the background effect.

Stay Inside During the Zoom Call

Given the Covid Pandemic, people are tired of staying inside, especially on bight sunny days. I get it. However, when attending a Zoom meeting for school, you should try to stay inside, but if you must go outside, ensure that you are sitting in front of a wall, with no trees or plants behind you that will blow in the wind, as they will serve as a distraction to everyone else in class. You also won’t be able to speak during class, as the wind and birds will make noise.

Ensure you Have Great Lighting

When joining an online Zoom class, by far, the biggest problem I find from most student who participate in the Zoom meeting, is the horrible lighting utilized by each student, and unfortunately, sometimes by the Professor.

Try not to use ambient lighting when attending class online via Zoom, and if at all possible, sit with a window in front of you, or by your side, but never sit with the window behind you as it will wash you out, meaning that you will appear as a silhouette.

Natural lighting is always better than ambient light. If your Zoom class meets at night, turn off any ambient lights nearby and allow your computer screen to provide the light needed to illuminate you. Be sure that lamps or lights mounted in the ceiling do not find their way in to the background.

Closing Thoughts

Zoom is an incredibly powerful, easy to use, means of communicating in an online classroom setting. It has become so popular in recent months not only because of the covid pandemic, but because you can join a Zoom meeting from all major computer platforms, including Windows, macOS, iOS and Linux. Additionally, you can use a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or even your cell phone to attend class.

Never before has it been so convenient to attend class from anywhere using nearly any device available on the market today. As a college student, if you follow the tips found in this article, you can rest assured that you will get the most out of your education, even when attending class via an online Zoom meeting.


Tim has been helping people with computers needs for several years, and he loves to help people succeed. He brings a wealth of wisdom and insight from an entrepreneur's perspective and enjoys freelance writing. In fact, when he's not writing an article, you might find him binge-watching Suits or formatting his computer . . . again, just for fun. To learn more about Tim, click here.

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