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Bridge the Social Distance: How to Make New Friends in College Remotely

As newcomers, we all struggled to find our places in college, but we can’t deny that it’s especially hard for the fresh faces of 2020, who had their exciting college beginnings squashed by a social buffer. If I hear “unprecedented times” once more, I might just bash my head against the paper-thin walls of my dorm room. But, don’t despair! Your college experience doesn’t have to be limited because of social distancing – it can be enriched by it too. Here are some creative ways to make new friends even if you can’t meet them in person.

Become best buds with your roommates.

Let’s be honest. They’re probably the only people you’re going to see face-to-face most often, so make the most of it! See what you all have in common, have a movie night or a girls’ night, and be open and honest about yourself. The most difficult part in all this is breaking through those initial barriers that leave your roommates as friendly acquaintances rather than close friends. Don’t be afraid to open up and be your unfiltered self.

Always turn your camera on – even for bigger classes.

It might be intimidating, sitting in front of a camera that displays you to fifty random people. Sometimes, I find myself watching my own screen because it’s horrific to find out that this is what I look like?? But know that keeping your camera on during classes allows for more conversation and makes you real to others. Someone may compliment a tapestry in your background or feel at ease if you smile and laugh openly at jokes in the chat. It’s a great way to put your best face forward!

Slide into DMs – platonically!

It shouldn’t be weird! It really shouldn’t! Everyone is having a hard time socially this year and would probably love if you reached out first. Maybe start with the people in your Zoom classes! Take note of their names and look them up on Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok to get a better idea of who they are and what they enjoy. You might find someone whose aesthetic you vibe with. Message them a compliment or question to get the conversation going. It’s a great way to build your following too!

 Be active in group chats.

We all know dead group chats are no fun, so…revive it! You can send relevant memes or TikToks for laughs, ask quirky questions that might bring about creative responses (e.g., What’s the best Wi-Fi name you’ve seen? Why can’t we start our own not-so-secret secret society?), or create random polls to get a feel for people’s moods every week. Most people would love to have someone checking in on them, and you could be the one initiating it.

Interact with other people in your apartment complex.

You might not be able to step fully out your door, but who said you can’t interact with the others nearby? Pull a Taylor Swift and hang a greeting or funny question outside your apartment window or door. See who responds. Romanticize your life, and you might find yourself in a budding friendship! Whatever methods you choose, always remember that you aren’t alone. Everyone is having a hard time right now, and all we can do is try to make the most of it. Be brave and be bold!

Yumna is a third-year at the University of Virginia, majoring in Computer Science in the College of Arts & Sciences. Despite her technical background, she loves all things reading and writing related! Along with entertaining articles for Her Campus, she will write short stories, novels, and - yes - even formal academic papers with spirited enthusiasm. In her free time, Yumna likes to work out, play soccer, and spend time with her family.
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