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How to Make Friends in College During a Pandemic

The pandemic has been hard for everyone in so many ways. For just about every current college student, the full college experience may seem like a lost cause. With the majority of on-campus activities still online and social gatherings still limited, students can easily feel isolated and alone. Current juniors and seniors at least got to experience a couple of normal semesters, but those that are freshmen and sophomores started college during the pandemic.

In my experience, college was the perfect opportunity to meet new people. I remember befriending the people in my classes and joining lots of student clubs. The next year, the pandemic forced me to go back to my hometown for the year, which limited my social interactions a great deal. I was able to move back to campus for my junior year, but my freshman year felt like a distant memory or something of the distant past.

Most of my classes were still online, and those that were in-person required us to social distance. The clubs that I was a part of also met online. I even found that the campus was a lot less crowded and lively, as most people were taking classes over Zoom. I started craving those interactions and friendships I knew before the pandemic, but it seemed so impossible now.

It had me wondering, how can college students still meet new people and make friends on campus during a pandemic?

It’s actually not as impossible as it seems, but what it takes is a lot more effort. Unfortunately, you’re probably not going to meet many people just by going to Zoom classes and keeping the camera off. To make friends now, you should actively start searching for them.

One way to meet people on campus is through class group chats. Many students join GroupMe chats to ask each other questions and help out with understanding course material. In my experience, I’ve also found that these group chats can introduce you to many potential friends.

Don’t be afraid to start conversations, whether it be about the class or beyond. You can even ask your classmates for their social media so you can stay in touch after the semester is over. Keep in mind that you already have one thing in common with these people, which is taking the class, and are bound to have many more things in common.

Another way to meet new people is by getting involved on campus. Most college campuses have hundreds of clubs for so many different interests and activities. Figure out which of these you would like to try and become an active member. Although many clubs are restricted to Zoom, that doesn’t mean you can’t make friends. Try showing up early to the Zoom or staying a few minutes after just to talk to the other people in the club. Also, reach out for social media or start a group chat. The great thing about having phones on us all the time is that even when we can’t physically spend time with people, we can still form a connection.

selfie of group of friends
Original photo by Natalie Hughes

If you have the time and energy, getting a job on campus is also a great way to meet new people. Your coworkers are likely to also live on campus and be students. Because you’re not meeting through a shared major or shared interest, it is a great way to meet people that are different from you.

Working with people is definitely a unique way to get to know them and create a bond. It can happen when you’re bonding over complaining about customers, helping each other with tasks or having conversations during slow times. If you work in a customer service-type job, it is likely that many of the customers will be students as well. Strike up conversations with the customers as well; you may have more in common with them than you think.

What is most important is to be open to making friends wherever you are. We are in unprecedented times, and that means we need to think of new ways to do what we used to do. At the start of the pandemic, we had to reevaluate how we went to school, how we went to work and how we stayed safe. Instead of writing off the possibility of making friends and being involved in your campus social scene, you just need to reevaluate how you can meet new people. Look for opportunities everywhere and pursue exactly what you enjoy and are passionate about. Oftentimes, the right people come into our lives when we focus on what makes us happy.

Mackenzie Meleski is a passionate writer for Her Campus at VCU. She is currently double majoring in International Studies and Mass Communications. She loves her two cats, Leo and Loki, and her dog, Lucy. You will probably find her online shopping or watching reruns of The Great British Bake Off.
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