4 ways to make connections from behind a computer screen

Computer screen showing video call

Bonding and making friends at university can be pretty daunting, never mind when it’s from behind a computer screen in an online forum. But building connections can improve your university experience and boost your job prospects.

I joined SOAS almost a year ago to study for an online Master’s degree. Sometimes I’ve found myself in situations that are outside of my comfort zone, particularly when reaching out to other students on my course. I’m much more suited to an in-person environment, where I can approach people with a smile! However, as a result, I’ve gathered a few tips and suggestions for how to make friends in your online classes.

Participate in forums

This may be an obvious place to start, but what better way is there to reach out to your fellow peers by participating in online forums? Your peers are studying the exact same course or module as you and will also be logging in regularly.

Personally, I’ve found that regularly commenting, engaging in discussions, and providing feedback has helped to get my name out there amongst my classmates, and subsequently build friendships as a result. I have also utilised the private chat feature on Moodle to speak with fellow students, build friendships, ask for help and seek support individually, outside of the forums.

Form or join study groups

Study groups are a great way to turn class-related conversations into personal connections. It gives you a less formal setting to be able to share more about yourself and learn about your classmates.

At SOAS, you’ll often find that there will be an existing study group for your class or module. However, if there isn’t then why not consider forming your own? Asking classmates whether they want to create a study group is a great way to break the ice and connect with people who are interested in talking outside of class. It can be as frequent as a once-a-week video call to talk about the latest activity question, or more frequent coffee dates, as an essay deadline draws closer!

Use social media

Initially, this might feel quite daunting. Reaching out on social media feels slightly more informal than reaching out via SOAS networks like Moodle or email!

However, in my opinion, building connections on social media is a great way to find common interests and make solid friendships. I’ve come to realise that many students are also trying to make connections and will be happy to receive a now via social media from a fellow online and distance learning student. Have the courage to send that message!

Become an ambassador

As a digital ambassador, and regular contributor to the SOAS blog, I had to have this down as one of my best tips! Joining the team as an ambassador has allowed me the chance to speak and work with students who are from a different discipline to my own, something I would have found difficult doing remotely otherwise! I’ve found it to be a brilliant way to build connections and make friends within the SOAS community, outside of ‘studying’.

The next round of recruitment for Digital Ambassadors will open early in the next academic year, so be sure to keep an eye out for details on how to apply on the SOAS blog!

It’s important to remember that other students are likely to be in a similar situation to you with the same thoughts and worries, so don’t be afraid to reach out and form those connections!

Rachael Woodroffe is a SOAS Digital Ambassador currently studying an online and distance learning  Masters in Global Corporations and Policy. Rachael lives in the South West of England and works full-time in Corporate Affairs alongside her studies. 

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