When Fashion and Academics Collide: What to Wear for Online Courses

By Amanda Cohen on April 20, 2017

School might be coming to an end for some of us, but for others, it is only the beginning. Many college students choose to take online courses over the summer to get ahead in credits from the comforts of their own homes.

When students talk about taking online courses, many people reply, “Ugh I am so jealous. You can literally do your work in your pajamas … messy hair and all!”

While this statement may apply to some students, it does not apply to most students taking these courses. Just because a class is online does not make it any less important. In fact, the work tends to be more rigorous because online summer courses tend to be a lot shorter than typical semester-long, face-to-face classes.

Because of this, it is important to feel ready and to be in an academic mindset, which can be difficult with the sun shining. Think about an academic mindset … what usually comes to mind is walking to class and sitting in lectures and seminars. So, all you have to do is replicate these conditions! Go to a quiet area with no distractions and dress as you would for any face-to-face classes that you have had in the past.

Dressing up for class can better your grades. Now, when I say “dressing up” I am not telling you to whip out your prom dress and heels, I am simply telling you to look presentable while also being comfortable. If you are doing important assignments while wearing your pajamas, you won’t feel motivated to give it 110 percent because you will be in a comfortable, somewhat lazy environment.

Pardon my lack of correct grammar, but my friends and I always say, “Look good. Feel good. Do good.” When you are going to an exam for a typical class during the school year, would you ever wear your pajamas and a messy bun? Sometimes this is necessary, especially if you pulled off an all-nighter while studying, but most of the time you want to look like you put in some effort into your outfit (especially if you are walking by a bunch of people to get to your exam). Just think about how good it will feel to get back into your pajamas after taking an exam or completing a writing assignment in a fun and flirty outfit.

Many of you might be asking yourselves what I exactly mean when I say “dress up” (I know that telling you that you don’t have to wear a prom dress and heels is not enough). Since we are in the midst of spring and are about to enter the summer months, dressing up equates to casual rompers, casual sundresses, boyfriend jeans and a cool top, shorts and a cool top, some trendy sneakers, and maybe (only if you like wearing makeup) some mascara and lip balm. My favorite go-to summer “dress up” outfit is a loose-fitting romper, a jean jacket for the air-conditioned indoor areas, and a pair of cool sneakers. I never wear makeup, so that is taken out of the equation for me, and I wear my hair naturally curly, so I would not flat-iron it for an online class.

Of course, there are going to be some days where looking presentable is not in the cards; maybe you had a big night out for your friend’s birthday or you are feeling sick … or maybe you are just feeling lazy. This is 100 percent fine! As long as you get your work done, it doesn’t matter what you wear in the end.

However, for those of you who have trouble staying academically motivated in the summer, try your best to adhere to some sort of presentable dress code. If there is a day where you can’t get out of your sweatpants, make sure you go to an academic setting — a library, an office, a desk, or even a dining room table (aka anywhere but your bed or couch).

In the end, dressing up helps to make you more focused and less distracted (unless you are wearing something with tassels, then that can be pretty distracting). There is no need to wear a blazer or nice pants, you just want to wear something that is the perfect balance between comfortable and presentable because it will keep you on your toes. Plus, it is always fun to have an outfit cute enough to potentially Snapchat and go to dinner in (for all you know you might uncover your next favorite date night outfit). Since it is almost summer you want to wear something that is airy and non-restricting but bring a light sweater to wear inside because it does get cold.

To all of you taking online courses, I wish you the best of luck! For my readers who are not taking online courses, you can still apply the tips above to your everyday ensemble!

I am currently a junior at the University of Michigan.

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