Studying English Virtually in Fall 2020: FAQ

We recently had a virtual information session about what to expect from the coming weeks.  The following is a list of questions that came up.

For any questions or concerns whatsoever, please email us! We are here to help this semester:

Associate Chair Prof. Karen Weingarten (

Director of Undergraduate Studies Prof. Siân Silyn Roberts (

For general inquiries, please contact the English department at


What will a typical day look like this semester?

It’s a good question.  Unfortunately, we are not living in typical times, and there may not be such a thing as a typical class or typical day this Fall.  But all your professors should make their expectations very clear at the beginning of the semester, so you will know what you need to do each week.  One approach may be to give yourself as much of a set schedule as possible: this much time for this reading, this much time for this assignment, etc., and work your way steadily through the coursework, taking it week by week.  Talk with your professor about good study habits. Remember: they may now only be a disembodied face on a computer screen, but they are still here to be your professor, and help you in all the ways we normally would in a “normal” semester.


How are my classes being taught this semester?

All English classes are being taught virtually this semester, on a variety of platforms. The most common platforms will be Google Classrooms, Blackboard, QWriting, and Zoom. Each class will be run differently, depending on how the professor has set things up.


How will I know which platform we’re using?

Your professor will email you in the week before classes start, sending you instructions for how to access your class, and what platform you are using.


How will we get the class code to Login on Google classroom when the class is assigned to work on GC?

Your professor will email it to you.


Gah! Why haven’t I heard from my professor yet??

Your professor will most likely use your qmail account to contact you. This email is the one linked to your CUNYFirst and Blackboard accounts.  Please check that email address first, and any other addresses you provided to the college.  If you can’t remember how to access your qmail account, contact the Helpdesk right away:, or call (718) 997 4444​.  Check your spam folder, as the email may have gone there.


Help! It’s the first week of class and I STILL haven’t heard from my professor!

First, try reaching out to them in person (all office hours and emails for the professors are available here: If you still can’t reach them, please email right away.  We will help put you in touch with your professor, and figure out what’s going on.


Will we be using Zoom all semester?

It depends on the professor, and what they have planned for the class.  Chances are, you will be using some video conferencing this semester, and it will probably be Zoom or Blackboard Collaborate.


Do I need to have my video on during Zoom meetings?

This is a tricky one.  On the one hand, we do encourage you to keep your video on, as it helps foster that sense of a classroom and community that we’re all missing right now.  It also helps your professor engage with the class, and students with each other.  It’s good etiquette to have the video on, if you want to be an active part of the class, and it’s surprisingly distracting for everyone else when all we see is a black box with your name on it.  However, everyone’s circumstances are different, and you may not be able to have your video on, for all manner of reasons.  That’s okay too.  Just let your professor know before a video conference that you can’t turn it on.  At least we will know that you’re still there.


What’s the difference between synchronous and asynchronous teaching?

“Synchronous” teaching means that you will be expected to meet at set times and days for group discussion or lectures, usually on a video conference like Zoom or in a IM platform like Google Chat.  “Asynchronous” teaching means that the work can be done at your pace, while still meeting reading and assignment deadlines.


How do I know if my course is synchronous or asynchronous?

Again, your professor will tell you, and every professor has something different planned.  However, a good rule of thumb is this: if your course has a day and time listed in CUNYFirst (e.g. M/W 1:40pm-2:55pm), then there will be some synchronous component, and you should plan accordingly.


Can I still get tutoring and help with my writing?

Yes! The QC Writing Center is opening for virtual appointments:


Can I still get advisement?

Absolutely! The Academic Advising Center is open for virtual advisement, and the English department can be reached at  Prof. Weingarten and Prof. Silyn Roberts are here to help with any problems or concerns that arise during the semester.


Is anything else open?

The college itself is only open to a very small number of students and faculty who need to be on campus for in person instruction.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to visit campus.  However, ALL other student services are open virtually (please see below for a list of resources you may find helpful).  The campus may be closed, but the college is running!


I still need to enroll in more classes.  What do I do?

All our classes are listed in CUNYFirst, but many of them are full by now.  You can also check the full schedule of English courses here:

If you still need to get into English classes for your major or minor, please email either Prof. Weingarten or Prof. Silyn Roberts, and we will do our best to assist you.  Please include your CUNYFirst ID number and the five digit course code of the class you are trying to get into.


When will Winter classes be posted?

Unfortunately, we don’t yet know whether we will be able to offer a winter session, due to budget cuts.  We will know more later in the semester.


Do you know when we will get the books/textbooks for English courses?

All courses should have their textbooks listed in CUNYFirst.  You will also get a syllabus on the first day of class, which lists any books you need to purchase.  Textbooks can be purchased at the online QC bookstore:


I thought I enrolled in the new English major that’s going into effect in Fall 2020. Why isn’t it showing up in my Degreeworks yet? 

Good question! Please email with your ID number, and she’ll look into it for you.


I got some bad grades in Spring 2020 because of the pandemic.  Is there anything I can do about that?

There may be.  If you have any F’s on your transcript from the Spring, and you want to appeal them, please email, and she will walk you through the process of lodging an appeal. If you received an Incomplete (INC) that you didn’t discuss with your professor, please email Prof. Silyn Roberts about it.


My online course isn’t going so great, but I don’t know who to talk to about it.  What should I do?

Communication is going to be key this semester.  We are here to help in any way we can, and all correspondence will be held in complete confidence.  Please reach out to Prof. Weingarten or Prof. Silyn Roberts, and we will do whatever we can to assist you.


I’m having a family or medical emergency, and I think my studies will be affected. What should I do?

First, let your professor know.  You don’t have to go into detail, but let them know that you re having difficulty, and see if accommodations can be made.  All of your professors know that this semester will present challenges, and we need to be flexible.  If you are still worried about your progress through your degree, or need assistance from the college (counseling, financial, peer support, etc.) please reach out to either Prof. Weingarten or Prof. Silyn Roberts, or contact Student Services: