College Archived Updates

Preparing Learning Environments

A message from the Jay Ellison, dean of students in the College

Dear Students in the College,

As we conclude Spring Break, I know many students feel both excitement and concern for the quarter ahead. I write with suggestions for shaping a positive remote learning experience.

Since the onset of COVID-19, the Office of the Dean of Students in the College has been diligently working to ensure resources remain in place to support student success and well-being. Once Spring Quarter classes begin, my office will remind students of these available resources, and provide information on new virtual ways to experience the College and stay connected to faculty, classmates, and friends. No matter the distance between us, the College remains a strong community.

This is a collective opportunity, however. To fully embrace and benefit from remote education, each student should create an individual learning environment that allows for sufficient focus and study. The following core components are recommended.

Dedicate time. While on campus, students at the University of Chicago commit considerable time and effort to academic pursuits. Because learning from a remote residence may include personal responsibilities or distractions that impact the way students engage with their studies, success in a remote quarter requires students to dedicate time for education. For each hour of course meeting, students should plan to study between one and three hours, every week. Students are encouraged to make sure family and friends understand the time and space required to complete course work.

Consider Zoom a classroom. There is an ease and convenience to studying online, but a Zoom screen is the equivalent of sitting in the front row of a classroom—in clear sight. While attire can be casual, it is important students remember they are still presenting themselves to their instructors and peers. Good etiquette for remote learning includes sitting up, dressing in day clothes, and ensuring microphones are on mute when others are speaking.

Be proactive. Remote learning environments require time management techniques, organization skills, and other study habits. The College’s academic advisers and staff remain available to provide advice, support, and conversation throughout the quarter, to assist students. The College has also created the Spring 2020 in the College website to offer relevant information in one place. Students who want guidance and support are encouraged to proactively contact their adviser and know of available resources.

I have great confidence in the students of the College. With preparation and focus, academic and personal goals can be achieved.

I continue to wish all students and families health and safety during this unprecedented time. I look forward to beginning the quarter together on Monday.


Jay Ellison, PhD
Dean of Students in the College
The University of Chicago