As the fall semester approaches with thousands of students attending their first semesters online, you might be thinking: how on earth am I going to get involved? After all, much of the college charm is finding “your people” and many people do this by finding friends with common interests in clubs and extracurriculars. However, with the lack of in-person instruction and activities, this will definitely be a challenge. But there’s still hope.
Firstly, colleges have several people dedicated to campus involvement, and over the past three months, I can reassure you that they have most probably brainstormed dozens of ways to keep you involved. They know that students look forward to these social experiences, and not having them in their traditional form can really affect their studies. I thought it could be somewhat reassuring to know that there are people are working on solutions to this exact problem, so you’re not alone, and there are people who aren’t just your fellow students looking out for you!
Secondly, my advice would be to try to come out of your comfort zone if you’re not typically someone who makes friends casually. I imagine that the social aspects of next semester will include a lot of “hey, want to join this class group chat?” or “hey, want to exchange numbers for this class?” in the process of making friends. If no one says it to you first, try being the one to initiate. Everyone is in the same boat, and I’m sure any invitation will be gladly received. Also, remember that you don’t need to make friends just because you’re in the same class with someone else. If your school has any sort of discussion forum or larger online areas, you can easily connect with someone who has a similar interest or hobby as you. I would check if your school has a subreddit on Reddit or a Discord channel, as these some to be popular places where people can connect.
Campus involvement isn’t just about making friends for most people, but also interacting with the material in a hands-on format. Many clubs will definitely move their meetings online and they will probably be more than happy to have newcomers in a time like this. Additionally, if you’re someone who finds it hard to make time for clubs amidst a busy schedule, hopefully, the online aspect can provide some relief and allow you to have more freedom while letting you pursue something you’re passionate about. If you’re unsure where to start, many schools have a club list online where you can search for a list of clubs. From there, you can email the person in charge and see if they have space and their club requirements/times. If you can’t find a club list, try reaching out to the campus involvement (or similarly titled) department.
If you’re looking to help out the community and are stuck wondering what you can do at home, I would search the web for online volunteering opportunities (yes, that’s a thing!). I’ve seen opportunities floating around where you can write letters to first responders or people who are ill. There are thousands of these kinds of options, and I would recommend doing some research so you can fill your time with something productive while being on campus.
These current times call for new and innovative solutions, so we all just have to keep our heads up and adapt using the resources at our disposal. Good luck on campus, I hope it is an enriching experience still!