The new school year has provided students with new classes, new professors and, most importantly, a myriad of new obstacles. It can be hard to be a kiss-up when you aren’t physically in the classroom — gone are the days of giving apples to professors after class or sitting eagerly in the front seat to show your undying passion for organic chemistry. Even more tragically, Zoom sessions have deterred many ambitious students from charming their professors with their can-do attitude and overwhelming participation. But remote learning doesn’t have to prevent students from making meaningful connections with their professors. Here’s some advice on how to make a good impression and stand out in large Zoom classes. 

Eye Contact Is Key

Whether your professor is examining the captivating ideas of 16th-century philosophers or a student is asking a carefully-worded question that subtly demonstrates how much they know about a topic, it’s always important to give them your undivided attention. Most Zoom University students believe this means staring beady-eyed into the camera — this is an amateur mistake. Instead, turn your head in the direction of the speaker to indicate your attention.  If your professor is in the top right corner, make sure to turn your head northwest about 45 degrees above the horizon.

Acknowledge Insightful Comments 

Your professor just made a mediocre dad joke? Show him how much you appreciated it by unmuting yourself and giving a hearty, audible chuckle. The more genuine and real sounding the better. If a classmate makes a thought-provoking remark, or even better, regurgitates the previous speaker’s ideas with fancier vocabulary, it is also an excellent idea to unmute and show appreciation of such genius by saying, “mmh. This works best when your face is also in a pensive countenance to demonstrate its authentic nature, and a vigorous head nod never hurts either.

Take a Trip to Mesopotamia

After a challenging anthropology lecture on Neo-Babylonian civilizations, why not demonstrate how much information you retained by displaying your favorite civilization behind you? This shows an interest in the subject and adds a little spice to the beige backgrounds of dorm rooms or living rooms that have been transformed into makeshift classrooms. Some other background ideas are cells active in mitosis for biology, “The Wolf of Wall Street” for economics and the Broadway hit “Hamilton” for U.S. history.

Assert Your Presence 

If your video camera is off, make sure the teacher knows you are present. Technical difficulties can get the best of everyone and your decade-old MacBook video camera may finally call it quits on you. Most professors see a camera off as proof that the student is watching the newest TikTok trend or has left the room, so make sure to turn your audio on and breathe heavily into the microphone at random moments. This reassures the professor that you aren’t putting the class on the back burner while doing a Chloe Ting abs workout, but rather sitting at your desk hanging off every last word about U.S. fiscal policy. 

Though most students would rather get to know their professors face-to-face, with these tips, making an unforgettable impression is not out of reach. As Emory students await a return to the traditional college life, understanding Zoom etiquette and social skills can make the wait much more bearable.

Christine Plaster is from Greenwich, Connecticut. Contact Plaster at christine.plaster@emory.edu.

The views represented in this article are the writer’s own. Read more of the Wheel’s satire under Emory Life and contact Emory Life Editor Angela Tang at [email protected] if you’re interested in writing satire.