Online courses are flexible, convenient, and an effective resource for general knowledge and a specific degree. But if your vision of college was one of classroom connections and idle campus strolls, you might wonder how to have a real college experience when you take online courses. It’s easier than you’d think! There are plenty of ways to connect with your peers, professors, resources, and experiences that make college life something you’ll remember forever.
Since the first place you meet your online classmates will be on a learning management system, take advantage of all the platform has to offer. When your professor asks you to introduce yourself in the discussion forum, tell everyone who you are. Don’t speak only to academics. What makes you, you? You can tell them why you chose your major and the career goals you set for yourself. But what do you do in your spare time? This exercise is a great icebreaker, and as you progress through your class, the discussion forum becomes a great conduit for classmate conversations. But if you really want to get to know your peers, you can create a group chat through Teams or Slack, or set up a group page on Facebook or LinkedIn. When you move the conversation to an informal online setting, your peers can open up about their thoughts, hobbies, and personal lives. This is a great way to make friends outside of the classroom.
Just like you connect on social media when you meet a new friend in the real world, take a chance on your virtual classmates. Connect one-on-one, and also follow your school’s accounts to find out about the latest news, important deadlines, and upcoming events. If your school has a Facebook or LinkedIn group, join those. College is also the time to build your professional social media profile, so if you don’t have a LinkedIn account already, create one. Connect with your classmates and instructors today for the future network they can help you create.
Another good online place to meet is in a study group, especially if you struggle with a particular subject. You can get help from your peers and get to know them at the same time. And if there’s a subject at which you excel, share your knowledge to benefit your peers. Become an online tutor. Whether you do it casually or formally through your university’s learning center, you can offer your services and expand your circle. If you live near campus, you could meet up in person. Tutoring enables you to build one-on-one connections and help others at the same time.
Ever since COVID, we’ve all learned the benefit of virtual events. Check out what your school has to offer. It may present guest lectures, seminars, workshops, career fairs, and networking events online. Even better, take a look at in-person activities. From sporting events and clubs to the kinds of networking meetups you can attend virtually, the more you participate, the more you become part of the larger community. You can also join an honor society that offers online meetings or a student organization that meets off campus. There are plenty of ways to get involved from home—you just need to look for them.
Although you work from home, that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the resources your school has to offer. Of course, you can borrow books, conduct research, and chat with a librarian online. But you can also remotely meet with your academic advisor, get advice from care services staff, and look for job and internship opportunities through Handshake.
Distance learning doesn’t mean that you remain distant from your school. There are many ways to stay connected while enjoying the convenience of online classes. At Limestone University, we offer plenty of opportunities to stay connected, whether you study business, education, the liberal arts and sciences, or the health professions. Click the button to learn more.