Here are some tips to help you stay on track when learning online. You can also check out the conversation on Academic Essentials in the City Tech Guide – other students are sharing their tips there, and you can too!

Tune Into Class

It can be hard to focus during online classes, but there are ways to stay engaged! Take notes during online lectures just like you would in a traditional classroom setting and ask questions throughout class. Many online meeting tools have the option to virtually raise your hand or enter a question into a chat box. See Tips for Online Meetings for more info. 

Communicate with Your Professor

Stay in touch with your professor: if you have a question or a problem don’t hesitate to ask! Their contact information will be on the syllabus. You can also message them via the OpenLab; this sends an email to their City Tech email address. The City Tech Guide has a great video about how to communicate with professors, staff, and fellow students by email. And don’t forget to go to office hours – that’s time your professor has set aside specially to help you!

Connect with Others

The OpenLab is a community space, which makes it easier for you to connect with other students. You can send friend requests and messages to anyone on the OpenLab, and join Clubs to find other students with the same interests. Stay in touch with your friends and family outside school too! 

Find Space to Work

If you can, find a regular space to study that is quiet and distraction-free, such as a desk in a bedroom or at the kitchen table. Keep your textbooks, notes, calculator, and any other supplies you will need nearby. Let your roommates or family members know when you’re working and ask not to be disturbed.

Make a Schedule

Having an unstructured day makes it easy for time to slip away. Create a schedule with specific times to study, read, and do homework, and stick to it! Remember that you should plan for 2-3 hours of study time each week per credit to be successful.

Avoid Distractions

Put your phone on silent and out of sight and tum off the TV. Close social media platforms and other websites that may tempt you. Headphones can be helpful to block out distractions too.

Take a Break!

No-one can study for 10 hours straight! Take breaks to get your blood flowing and give your eyes time to rest. Take care of yourself and find time to unwind and do the things you enjoy. And don’t forget to celebrate what you’ve achieved! Check out NYC Well’s coping tips if you’re feeling stressed. 

Ask for Help

Need help? City Tech’s student resources haven’t gone away – they’ve just moved online! 

The Counseling Center can help you with academic, career, or personal challenges, or other concerns that may be interfering with your success. 

Here are some other useful resources for you:

Tips for Online Meetings

Your professor will use a tool like Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, or Webex to conduct live online meetings. Here are some handy tips for participating in online meetings.

The basics

  • Use headphones, if you have them (the sound will be better);
  • Mute your microphone at all times, unless you need to speak (background noise is disturbing to everyone else);
  • Video conferencing tools tend to drain the battery on your device, so plug it in if you can. 

Useful features

  • Most video conferencing tools allow you to “raise your hand” if you have a question or a comment;
  • Most video conferencing tools also provide a “chat” option that allows you to communicate with the professor and other students (all chat messages are visible to the professor, so keep your chats focused on learning!).

Stay connected!

  • Take notes and ask questions to stay engaged with the materials;
  • If your professor hasn’t let you know the best way to ask questions, ask a question about that! Some professors might want you to use the hand-raising button, others might call on students, others might want questions typed in the chat window, etc.


  • Some services allow you to use a background image so you don’t need to show your real background (but keep it professional!);
  • You can turn off video if you wish;
  • Please respect the privacy of others and don’t take screenshots of your instructor or fellow students. 

Technical problems? 

  • If you’re having problems with sound or video here are a few things that may help:
    • Try moving closer to the source of your wifi, if that’s what you’re using;
    • Try logging out of all other applications that you don’t need for class;
    • Try turning off your camera.
  • If nothing else works, many video conferencing services also provide a backup phone number. Try calling in with your phone so you can listen instead. 
  • If you have technical problems connecting to a video conference, document them clearly for your professor and send them in an email, asking if there’s another way you can access the materials that were shared during the live session.

Credits: This section is adapted from materials provided by CUNY School of Law,, and Guttman Community College; many thanks to our colleagues for sharing their recommendations.