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10 Ways Students Socialize at College During the Pandemic

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Three students sitting at tables, looking at laptops.

The pandemic has completely changed our lives. Colleges everywhere are tightening their rules, making it safer but more difficult to socialize. Students across the country are experiencing the same things. We’re all in this together. So, how do students socialize at college during the pandemic? We got you! The following article will provide you with social hacks to use on a virtual campus. These easy tips should help you make friends and stay connected with them.

1. School events

Your school will likely give you options for freshman bonding activities. These will probably be Zoom meetings and online events, in order to avoid having large gatherings. Even though these won’t be the same as meeting people in person, you should attend these events; they are a way to introduce yourself and get to know other freshmen. These virtual events and meetings can be helpful if you put effort into them and show off your personality.

2. Social media

You can use the internet to your advantage by reaching out to people through social media. Join Facebook groups and follow Instagram and Twitter feeds for the Class of 2024. Don’t be afraid to post on them and ask people if they’re interested in hanging out. There will be many people in the same boat as you, so don’t be embarrassed. A lot of your peers will also want to make friends in college.

A left hand holding a cell phone with instagram on the screen

3. Clubs

Go to your school’s website and look for club offerings. Contact any of the clubs that might interest you. Even if you can’t do the activities in person this year, it’s a good way to set up connections. You can meet people with similar interests and go to the clubs in the future.

Joining student-centered clubs such as your school’s newspaper or student government can be a good way to stay informed about your college’s policies and procedures regarding the pandemic. Meet virtually with these clubs to learn about new, interesting topics, and inform the student body about important information. Students need to know if the library or dining hall has been temporarily closed!

4. Peers

If you have some in-person classes, be sure to strike up a conversation with your peers before and after class. If all of your classes are remote classes, it might be harder to get to know your peers, but there are ways. Get study groups together for quizzes and exams; this will help you academically and could be a good way to get to know the people in your classes.

In between attending virtual classes and establishing a new social life, try to stay in touch with your closest high school friends. It can be easy to forget about those cringe-worthy years once you enter exciting college life, but maintaining your old friendships–especially during a pandemic–can help you stay sane. The pandemic can put unusual stress on friendships, so taking the extra steps to contact your friends can be worthwhile during this time.  

5. Food

Local restaurants have been hit hard by the pandemic. Grab some delicious food from a place nearby your dorm or home and have a virtual dinner party! Doing so will help local restaurant owners and provide a fun time for socializing.

Create a theme for your dinner parties, or have your friends dress in crazy costumes. It may not be the same as in-person dining, but virtual dinners have their own appeal. The low risk of disease transmission through food delivery plus the virtual dinner is a safe alternative to dining out with a group of friends. 

Dinner party with friends

6. Find an online exercise class

If you enjoy dancing, yoga or general fitness, finding an online workout course can be a great way to socialize with new people who share similar interests. Maybe your college offers virtual fitness classes through their fitness centers, but you can also meet diverse people in other online exercise programs. Maybe you’ll find some new friends in Australia!  

Even better: find a local fitness center that offers online classes. Supporting local business and working out at home during the pandemic are great ways to help your community!

7. Make the most of in-person interaction

If you are on campus this year, talk to the people living in your dorm, especially those living on the same floor as you. These are people who are easy to see frequently. You can make small talk in the bathroom or the hallway and hang out in common areas. It’s easy to become close with people you see every day.

Try to keep an eye out for socially distanced events like lawn games or student performances. A safe way to socialize on your campus during the pandemic is by creating a social bubble. Hanging out with only the same few peers can minimize your group’s chances of contracting and spreading COVID-19. 

8. Take initiative

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Ask people to hang out by going on a walk in the park or getting take-out together. Odds are that they’ll say yes. It’s much better to be friendly and outgoing with new people than to close yourself off early. If you don’t take action, it will be much harder to make friends. A few rejections here and there won’t compare to the amazing friendships that you’ll make.

During this pandemic, it can be helpful to assess your potential friends’ comfortableness with wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. Be sure to establish what your peers feel safe with. Doing this can ensure your safety and can show that you are a considerate person. Don’t be afraid to approach the subject of pandemic precautions, either. 

Woman wearing a mask, taking a photo

9. Multitask

Pursue multiple avenues for making friends. Do as many of the above actions as you can. In the beginning, try to make a lot of new friends, rather than tying yourself down to one or two. Your friendships will change over time, likely not remaining the same throughout all of college. Therefore, you should try hanging out with multiple groups of people before finding who fits into your life the best. You will have to explore and get to know different people before finding the ones who will matter most to you.

For all incoming freshmen, there is still a lot to look forward to. College life may be different from how it is typically, but you can adjust and make the most of it. Don’t forget to study hard for your degree, and have fun making plenty of friends!

10. Check in with yourself

It can be difficult to socialize at college in general, and virtual learning can make it even harder. The pandemic has caused many students to feel even lonelier than before. It is important to check in with your own mental well-being before you attempt to join a club or reach out to a classmate. Make sure you’re a friend to yourself before you try to virtually socialize at school.