Inside Quizlet

Seven deadly sins of remote studying, just in time for spooky season

Quizlet HQ & Quizlet in Education ·
Seven deadly sins.png

Quizlet is proud to partner with real students and recent graduates to showcase authentic voices on our blog. This guest post is by Nicolette Kier, who just graduated from the University of Pittsburgh.

You’ve probably been “in school” for a hot minute now, school being your living room. I hope you’ve adjusted well and have a good rhythm going, because this is the point where habits are formed for … the foreseeable future. I have no idea how long this is going to last.

So if by some twisted turn of fate you’re chilling on Instagram instead of paying attention to your Zoom class, or trying to sift through the internet for homework and test answers, now would be a really good time to get yourself together.

Here are seven deadly sins of remote studying, just in time for spooky season. Steer clear of these and your good grades won’t ghost you like all my friends did after high school.

1. Letting the internet paralyze you like a 21st century Medusa.

internet wasting my time.pngActual footage of me every single night since March.
(Image courtesy of Zwulu.)

Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, a random post about who Sam Smith has been writing breakup songs about all these years … pick your poison. It’s almost impossible to have a smartphone and not be on social media. It’s really almost impossible to be on a computer and not stray away from your writing assignment or research project.

At any time of the day, the internet can turn us to stone, sitting on the couch scrolling away for hours without even realizing it. Suddenly, 11:59 p.m. is much closer than you realize, and your well-thought-out project is now looking like a rush job.

This is why Do Not Disturb and extensions for temporary website blocking exist.

Related: Not sure how to use Do Not Disturb find and install website blockers? Here’s how to use Do Not Disturb while still letting important calls through, for iPhone and Android. And here are 8 website blockers for studying, productivity and focus.

2. Waiting for a genie to teach you how to use your class’ technology.

learning zoom.pngCome on millennials and Gen-Z, don’t fail me now.
(Image courtesy of Blue Crystal Memes.)

If you haven’t been hit with a bunch of new technology to use, enjoy that.

I did not get the chance to enjoy that. I was expected to use Zoom, Google Meet, Skype and our school’s login portal. One class had me either contribute to a WordPress website or design one myself. For a business class, our whole book was online and interactive, and there was a steep learning curve.

I probably should’ve been on x-games mode with this software by week two.

Was I? Of course not.

There isn’t really time later on in the semester to struggle with technology. So if you don’t know it by now, get to reading some tutorials or emailing your teachers for help.

Not learning the software because you think it’ll “save you time” will end up hurting later. Like when it’s 11:50 p.m. and you’re sweating trying to figure out how to submit your project in a class portal in the next nine minutes.

3. Becoming the phantom of your class because you don’t answer any messages.

invisibility.pngDon’t be that guy.
(Image courtesy of Dank Meme Team.)

Instructors can’t see you face-to-face, so handing out assignments, taking questions and general communication is harder. There’s not a great way to consolidate all of your message boards, chats and emails, so you’ll have a lot of messages to check.

Sometimes you forget to look. Usually, though, when you’re not responding to messages, it’s because you’re just ignoring them. I’ve been there: a really long email with a lot of details, multiple notifications in classroom chats. It gets exhausting. But, there are three issues here:

  1. Obviously, you will miss important information.
  2. Your instructor probably counts messaging boards, chats, etc., as participation points in some way.
  3. Your messages will build until they are literally too overwhelming to look at.

If I were you (or if I had a do-over), I would check messaging boards and emails twice a day. This way, you can stay on top of class activity without spending too much time responding instead of working.

How often you check chats depends on a lot of things, like impending due dates. So, I leave that up to you.

4. Being the imposter in your remote learning class.

imposter.pngWe see you acting sus, all on mute like that.
(Image courtesy of apeejayitememes.)

I don’t believe there is anyone on earth who has been completely present and attentive in all remote classes and meetings. We have all glanced at our phones, opened other tabs, or left the room altogether. (Sometimes you just need a snack, you know?)

The problem emerges when you completely check out of classes. If you’re staring at your phone for an entire lecture, you’re not learning anything.

Again, this is where Do Not Disturb and temporary site blockers can come in handy. It also helps to sit in a place that simulates the idea that you’re in a class, like at a desk or table. Learn to associate a particular place with work, and save your couch and bed for chilling. Make it feel like you’re in a physical classroom, where you wouldn’t (or at least shouldn’t) be using your phone in the first place.

5. Thinking your witch energy is more powerful than your tried-and-true study methods.

taking notes.pngDon’t be these dips. They Titanic-ed their finals.
(Image courtesy of Dopl3r.)

In my humanities classes, most of my professors handed out physical papers to read and take notes on. I’m a real highlighter/notes-in-the-margin type of person, so this system worked for me.

In my math classes, professors would write on the board painfully fast, and I tried to write and listen at the same time. I’m a visual learner, so most of the spoken words did not connect at all.

When we switched to remote learning, I decided I didn’t need paper. Everything was electronic, paper was wasteful, and how many college students realistically have access to decent printers at any time of the day? In lectures, I could just listen, and save videos to look at written notes later.

But my brain doesn’t learn like that, and it never has. I can’t read on screens, and I need to physically write things down. That’s how I worked every year before this one. I definitely haven’t developed the witch powers to take in information through osmosis—maybe during a full moon—but otherwise, it’s impossible for me.

You should use whatever methods of studying, doing homework and practicing for tests that you used to, if possible. If you always studied in groups, use your superior Zoom skills to set up a virtual study group. If you have to write out and scan your math homework, try to take notes and study on paper.

The entire world, including schooling, has changed, but your witch mind powers haven’t had the time to change with it. Do what has worked for you.

6. Thinking Google is a crystal ball with all the answers.

dual monitors.pngCheating isn’t cool, kids. Academic integrity is.
(Image courtesy of Dopl3r.)

First and foremost, cheating is wrong. Period. You can get suspended, or—especially in college—expelled for violating academic integrity policies. And yet, I know this happens, sometimes on exams and often on homework.

Students are not fools. We know that we can Google questions and answers for homework and tests. Educational software designers have been working to put restrictions on these abilities, but as their methods evolve, so do the ways around them.

But professors are not fools either, so they know this is bound to happen. They’re going to make homework and tests nearly impossible to just Google the answer to. I’ve gotten really complex, individualized homework and exam questions that can only be answered based off of class lectures. Randomized questions on exams ensure no exam answers can be copied and distributed.

I—and every other math student in the history of ever—can attest to the struggle of trying to input complex functions into Wolfram Alpha. It’s literally easier to just learn how to solve problems by hand, like you’re supposed to.

One of the smartest professors I’ve ever had formatted his exams so that students have to “choose all that apply.” To answer those kinds of questions, you just have to do a close reading (and maybe make some flash cards?) of the text for the class.

Then you have to take into account the time factor: It will take you longer, in the end, to try and Google answers to tests and homework, than it would to just learn how to do the work. It may even take so long that you run out of time to finish your homework and tests.

Essentially, cheating ultimately won’t work out for you. Trying to cheat on tests can make you fail, and can definitely get you expelled. And cheating on homework will keep you from learning the necessary skills you need to pass a class, and often, the building blocks you’ll need for the next one.

Note: There is a difference between cheating and using software that helps you to learn. Using software like Wolfram Alpha to see examples of other problem sets, or flashcards on Quizlet to help you memorize concepts for an exam is a good way to learn. But simply Googling assignment questions and copying the answers holds you back from learning foundational concepts that you will need later on.

7. Thinking you’re a vampire with an eternity to get yourself together.

me having meeting with myself to get my life together.jpg We’ve all been there, but we’ve really all been there in 2020.
(Image courtesy of iFunny.)

A lot of times, when I set out to do an assignment, I think: “I have all day to do this.” I’m mostly just sitting at home, not doing much else anyway, so no pressure, right?

After thinking like this for a few weeks, I realized that because I perceive myself as “having more time” to do things, I actually took more time to do them. It’s like when you have an assignment due in a week versus when it’s due in a day. You get really efficient when you’re under time constraints.

This is formally known as Parkinson’s Law, which states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

You can apply the principles of Parkinson’s Law in many ways to become more efficient, and one of them is setting time constraints for assignments. If you give yourself a specific, finite chunk of time to do an assignment, it will take less time (and hang over your head less) than if you just float through the day like you have all the time in the world.

Curious about other ways to apply Parkinson’s Law to build good habits? Read this.

Your actions become your habits, which become your life.

At this point, you are building habits that may shape who you are. This is important to keep in mind, in school and in life. Don’t ghost good grades and a good life by feeding into any of these bad habits.

All seriousness aside, it’s spooky season. Are you ready?

halloween.png No one is spookier than Dylan.
(Image courtesy of Know Your Meme.)


Nicolette Kier just made it to the other side of a degree in physics and writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She reaped the usual rewards of college: knowledge, a job, and debt. She thinks it was worth it.