For the past two years, going to school meant signing onto Zoom. Unfortunately, with everything being online, students have found it way harder to connect with their community, make new friends, or experience university life. It’s already hard enough transitioning into university from high school outside of a pandemic; it is now especially challenging because of the lack of in-person interaction.
Community is one of my favourite parts of the university experience—you meet so many new people, gain new experiences, and enjoy school more. So, whether your university has finally returned to in-person learning or decided to stay online for the rest of the year, here are five ways to get more connected with your school community:
1. Attend events and participate
There are always so many events happening around campus. These events are an excellent opportunity for you to meet new people and engage with your community. Events can be academic-related, such as writing workshops, or social, such as game nights and competitions.
As someone who has attended and organized many events, I can vouch that they are always super fun! Some examples of events my team has helped organize are a speed-friending event, a gingerbread house competition, and even a drag race! All you have to do is sign up, show up, and participate! These events are a great way to meet new people and have some great fun along the way.
Most universities will have social media accounts or weekly newsletters to inform students of upcoming events. Keep an eye out for these events, register, and participate!
2. Join clubs and organizations
Another great way to connect with others at school is by joining a club or organization. There are always plenty of student-run clubs all around campus. There is something for everyone from more casual clubs, such as book clubs, or more formal clubs, such as student associations.
Start by searching what clubs are available at your university and join one that interests you! Joining a club creates a great opportunity for you to meet people with the same interests as you.
3. Volunteer or take part in a work/study position
Want to help your community a bit more or make some money on the side? Chances are, there are many volunteering and work/study positions available to you. Check out your university’s career portal or look out for opportunities around campus, in emails, or on social media.
4. Create group chats for your classes
Attending an online class can feel lonely. People don’t have their cameras on most of the time, and communicating with your peers is limited. One way to connect with your peers is to create a class group chat! Not only are these group chats helpful when discussing course materials, but you can also make new friends who are part of the same program or year as you. No longer will your peers be black boxes on a screen, but people you can interact with.
5. Connect with your professor
Last but not least, connect with your professor. It might seem strange to be friendly with your professor, but your professors genuinely want you to succeed and want to help. Instead of treating classes as a transactional process, I encourage you to go to office hours, ask questions about the class or assignment, and discuss the class topics more with your professor. Not only will this help you understand the course material more (and help you get a better grade), but this is also a way to network during your time as a student. I’ve had the same professors for a few of my classes, and I have to say, it is very nice when they remember you.