If you’re like most people, you can probably remember a time in your life when loneliness was an issue. Perhaps it was a time when you didn’t have too many friends, or perhaps it was a time when you were surrounded by people but felt you weren’t connecting.
Many new college students report feelings of loneliness as they begin their studies. This concern can be amplified for students of online colleges, who may worry that their choice to pursue an online degree will mean that they are “going at it alone.”
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of community and friendship. Loneliness hurts and can negatively affect your health and your studies.
If you’re an online student and find yourself dealing with loneliness, or if you’re a future online student who is worried about making friends, here are three tips for making friends in college, and how to avoid loneliness:
1. Community Is About Who And How, Not Where
I personally love long distance relationships. Because many of my closest friends and family are scattered throughout the world and in different cities, I have become an expert in long-distance communication. With some friends I make frequent phone calls, with others I send long emails. What I’ve learned from these relationships is that proximity isn’t necessary for closeness.
A strong student community is not only crucial for avoiding loneliness but is also a crucial element of the educational experience itself. Because of this, good online colleges will make use of different means of connecting students virtually. Online student discussion groups can help develop friendships with fellow students who live in different cities or even different countries. You’ll quickly discover that despite the distance, you have much in common with your fellow students around the country and around the globe. Most likely you’ll have similar career goals and interests.
Ask your online university what online tools they make use of to
2. Proximity Is Nice, Too
While long distance friendships can be just as fulfilling and genuine as any other friendship, there’s no denying that it’s nice to have friends in the area too.
In many major cities, you will discover fellow students who live in your area. There may even be a Facebook group for students of your online college in your area. If there isn’t one – create one!
Investigate resources for connecting with distance learners of other institutions as well. Just because you aren’t attending the same online college, doesn’t mean you can’t form fun and stimulating study groups. This can be a great way of making friends in college, even if they go to a different college!
3. Move your working space
Many distance learners love the independence of pursuing their degree online, but may not want to be cooped up at home all day. If you’re feeling lonely and want to get out of the house, taking your homework out of your house can really do the trick.
You can take your studies to a nearby co-working space, or find a coffee house with good coffee, treats and atmosphere. It might feel awkward at the beginning but pretty soon you’ll have a place outside of the home that feels like home.
If you go long enough you’ll start to recognize the other regulars as well. This can be an effective and delicious way of getting your work done, making friends in college, and building a sense of community. Just make sure they have free wi-fi!