With several post-secondary institutions making the decision to continue with a remote learning environment for the upcoming fall term, first-year and returning students alike will have to find creative ways to connect with one another virtually. While it may be hard to replicate some on-campus social gatherings like new student orientations and sporting events, schools are working hard to create online learning spaces where students can still meet and interact. If you’re a first-year student wondering how to connect with your campus community without physically being on campus, here are some ways you can still join in.
Get comfortable with learning online
When students had to abruptly transition to online learning in the spring, it was unclear at that time how long this setup would be their new reality. Now that there is clear direction from many schools that virtual learning is here to stay, students can dig into establishing strategies that maximize their learning in a remote environment.
Not sure how to tackle online learning? Start by taking some time to review these tips.
Work in groups
Joining a virtual study group can make large lectures feel less intimidating and provide you with a core set of peers with whom you can review course material, discuss assignments, clarify session notes, and bond over shared experiences. Having a built-in accountability group will help you stay on top of your schoolwork and form a support network that understands the unique challenges you’re facing.
Want to start your own study group? Here are some tips on how to find other students, get organized, and make your study sessions productive for every member of the group.
Explore your school’s resources
In addition to facilitating an online learning environment, many schools provide creative outlets to develop a deeper sense of community among their students. Schools like Queens and SFU offer programs that connect first-year or transfer students with a mentor, and UBC has created a website that houses resources like workshops on online communication skills, lessons on how to balance learning and living at home, and suggestions about how to maintain social connections – remotely.
Can’t find anything about virtual campus life on your school’s website? Contact the school’s Student Services department.
Connect outside the classroom
Moving life online meant that many organizations had to evolve quickly to meet needs and maintain services – and may now require ongoing support to keep going. There are lots of ways you can volunteer your time to support others and build connections. Offer to teach someone how to use Zoom or post content to Instagram or TikTok. Write a post for a blog or online journal. Reach out to the organizations you would usually visit in person to see if you can help.
Have confidence in yourself
This advice from UBC sums it up: “University is about learning and growing, and this is a chance to show yourself just how responsible, focused, and motivated you can be. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t ready to rise to the challenge. You’ve got this.”