Turn your camera on! Yes, I know you might be the only one in the class with it on. Yes, I know it’s kind of an awkward angle. And yes, I know sometimes you like to walk around, fidget, all around multi-task when you are listening to a lecture, but trust me, you want to TURN YOUR CAMERA ON!

Here’s why: College application Letters of Recommendation

In the college application process, most colleges want to hear from your junior year teachers because they can give the most recent report of your academic abilities. In years past, this was simple because you had the ease of seeing the same teacher every day, raising your hand, and staying after class to get help. It was effortless to build a relationship with your teacher. They could likely see your expression of confusion or your ah-ha moment of grasping a concept and be able to offer assistance. In today’s setting of distance learning, if your camera isn’t on, how will your teacher know if you understand the concept and if you are truly engaged in the classroom?  AND if you have a cute nickname like “ Zombie Apocalypse Captain” on the screen and not your full name, they may not even make a connection that Zombie Apocalypse Captain is really you. 

Fast forward to next fall when it’s time to think about which teachers to ask for letters of recommendation from this year’s teachers. You want to make sure that the teachers writing your letters of recommendation can write a strong letter because they know you well. 

Here are some suggestions to help build a relationship with your teachers through distance learning.

  1. Turn your camera on and use your full name on the screen.
  2. When the opportunity arises, speak up. Ask a question or contribute to a discussion, let the teacher know you are interested and engaged in the class.
  3. When you have a question, ask your teacher during their office hours instead of deferring to a google search or your peers for help. 
  4. Make a point to stay after class to ask a clarifying question or share your interest in the subject matter.
  5. If you are working in an asynchronous classroom and there’s an opportunity to post comments, do so. 

Advocating for yourself like this may feel like you are stepping out of your comfort zone, but building a connection with teachers in our remote world will be setting yourself up for success next fall when there’s often enough anxiety associated with the college application process. It’s time to realize the long-term benefits of such a simple act of turning your camera on.