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9 Ways to Keep a Social Life While Living on Campus in the Fall

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Students sitting and reading in a field on a university's campus

Colleges and universities have released Fall 2020 plans with strict rules and regulations to follow while living on campus. Students may worry about how this will affect their social lives at school. With slight adjustments and a positive attitude, students will be able to keep up with their beloved friends.

Every college and university across the U.S. is figuring out how to get students back on campus in the fall.

This means creating strict rules and regulations to ensure safety and good health for each and every member on campus. This also means college life will not be anything like the kind that students know and love.

As August is approaching fast, more and more schools have released news about their Fall 2020 plans. Many academic calendars are starting earlier and ending after Thanksgiving break.

Students are expected to work for 14 weeks straight with no holidays off. It’s no wonder students everywhere are upset; campus life is practically nonexistent.

What is campus life going to look like?

When looking at the fall plans for universities like SUNYs Plattsburgh and Binghamton, UMass Amherst, Syracuse, Florida State, UC Berkeley, Washington State, and more, there are many common rules and regulations students must follow.

Prior to students’ arrival, most universities will require anyone who is living on campus to sign an agreement pledging their willingness to comply with stated behaviors and actions.

This may include wearing masks when outside of the student’s assigned room, submitting daily screenings of symptoms, avoiding large group gatherings, and social distancing whenever possible.

In addition, universities are encouraging, if not requiring, students to test for COVID-19 immediately prior to returning to campus or upon their arrival. The goal is to be proactive in controlling COVID on campus by testing and isolating infected people in allocated dorms.

A man and a woman sitting on a bench at a park overlooking a pond with a fountain in the middle

The testing plans of many college campuses include testing as students arrive on campus, symptomatic testing, and ongoing and regular testing for everyone on campus throughout the semester. 

Once living on campus, residents are only allowed in their assigned halls. Common areas will have reduced capacity with masks and physical distancing required, and security desks will be staffed 24/7.

On top of these safety regulations, most dorms are not allowing any guests, meaning someone who does not live in that building.

Recently, the presidents of colleges that are part of the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) voted unanimously to suspend conference play until January 2021.

Many other conferences joined the NEWMAC in making this decision, with the health and safety of college communities as the guiding principle.

No decision has been made regarding winter or spring seasons at this time; however, it has been decided by the NEWMAC that competition will not begin until at least January 2021.

Depending on NCAA and NEWMAC decisions on fall sports, there may be a possibility for fall teams to compete in the spring sports season of 2021.

All students and staff are encouraged to limit travel to the local area around their school, and they may be required to report travel outside of a certain mileage range.

Social life on campus will be very different than past semesters. With clubs, activities, and events being remote, and many sports seasons being canceled, campuses are being opened for one reason: to go to in-person classes, if necessary.

How are students expected to enjoy themselves?

No longer will college be the same. No more spontaneous group study sessions or partying until the crack of dawn. If students like to be out and about, they can kiss that lifestyle goodbye.

Concerts and plays are going to be the last social activity to be allowed. Video games, sports, and movie nights will have to be online. Even memories students make at dinner together may be obsolete if dining halls are based on a grab-and-go system.

People sitting and laying in a university campus park, in the middle of several rows of trees

Here’s what we have left: a bunch of college kids who have been stuck inside for so long it feels like their social skills are nonexistent.

Coming up with ways to still have fun with friends is probably the last thing a student would want to do after a long day of school work. In order to make life easier, here’s a list of nine ways to keep a social life and follow the new rules and regulations while living on campus.

  1. Meals on the Quad. Find a time to grab food at the dining hall and eat outside if the weather is nice. This allows the group to sit far enough apart while still being together. If it’s cold or rainy, find an open campus building and sit in its study area.
  1. Dinner Dates. Sometimes getting together with friends and cooking dinner is exactly what a student needs to end their day. Instead of doing it in person, you can set up a group video call where everyone cooks and eats the same meal in their own rooms.
  1. Hikes. The best way to keep in touch with a gym buddy while the facilities are closed is to go on hikes together. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to find local areas and explore.
  1. Video Games on Group Video Calls. There are a ton of online games that allow friends to compete. The app, House Party, is a great way for people to play Word Racers, Heads Up!, Trivia, Quick Draw, Chips and Guac, or Magic 8 Ball. Mario Kart Tour is available in the app store if it’s not possible to get together to play in person. Friends who live in the same building can meet up in a common area and hook up a gaming console to the TV. Masks will be required, but at least it’s something!
  1. Virtual Escape Rooms. Escape rooms are a great way to bond with friends and work together. There are many escape room apps that are usually done individually; however, you could set up a group call and figure them out together. Here’s one that’s based on Hogwarts from Harry Potter.
  1. Netflix Party. Everyone likes to binge-watch a show. The Google Chrome extension Netflix Party allows friends to do that synchronously from their own bedrooms. It will pause at the same time on everyone’s screen, and it even has a chat to talk in.
  1. Movie Night on Google Hangouts. Many people miss seeing the latest films in theaters. Thankfully, streaming services like Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus have been releasing new films for everyone to enjoy. Set up a Google Hangouts or Zoom call and rent the new releases on Amazon, then split the cost. A bonus of this method is that it will help you save the money you would have spent on overpriced tickets, candy, and popcorn.
Two people sitting at a table with trees visible through a window behind them.
  1. BBQ in a Park.  Who doesn’t like a good barbecue? While the weather is nice, small groups of friends can meet up in a local park for a quick party. If the group is of age, make sure to know the state laws for public drinking.
  1. Get Wasted on Zoom.  If the weather is cold, Zoom is a great way to meet up with a large group of people for a virtual party. There are many games with just a few modifications that can be excellent drinking games. A game based on Cards Against Humanity called All Bad Cards is available online for free. Never Have I Ever, Would You Rather, and Most Likely To are classic party games that never get old. Drunk Pirate is also available to spice up a Zoom call in seconds flat with its hilarious demands on who drinks when. It’s even possible to set up a tournament of Cup Pong through Game Pigeon’s app on an iPhone.

Friends who live in the same building have more advantages than those who don’t. Nowhere does it say people who live in the same building can’t go to each other’s room (unless stated otherwise by the university).

Instead of going out to parties, get a few good friends to one dorm room. Instead of going to football games, set up a small watch party. Make the best of a hard situation. 

None of these activities compare to how college life was before the pandemic. Unfortunately, no one knows when or if things will ever return to normal.

If students keep their spirits up, wear a mask, and follow the rules, college can and will still be fun. Stick together to get the country back on track, and next year, hopefully, college life will return to normal.