Distance learning has plenty of benefits, such as cost savings, flexibility, and the ability to learn just about anywhere, to name a few. But if you’re a distance learner, one challenge you may be facing is feeling like you belong at your college or university.
“School spirit” may seem like a foreign term as a distance learner. Since you’re not attending in-person, is it possible to feel connected to it?
The answer: It can be. But it will take some initiative on your part.
Let’s take a look at six ways you can foster school spirit and feel more connected to your school.
1. Get to know your classmates virtually
Building a community of fellow students is perhaps the best way to feel like you belong to a college or university.
So, if your professor posts a discussion thread, be sure to contribute. And be sure to engage in each class. Asking relevant questions or answering questions where appropriate will help others view you as an academic resource, and they may be more likely to contact you directly.
Group projects are also a great way to get to know others. When you meet, be sure to take advantage of any icebreaker questions that may come up. That way, you can find fellow students with similar experiences or interests.
2. Find classmates in your area
Use social media to find classmates who live in your area. If you feel comfortable, shoot them a message to see if they’d like to connect virtually. (Hint: Doing this will also give you experience in using sales techniques, since a big part of sales is reaching out to people you may not know).
Aside from social media, you can email your college counselor to see if your school has ways to connect you to other students where you live. Or you can peruse your school’s website to see if you can find any info on connecting with local students.
Finding classmates in your area may take a little digging, but it could be worth it to feel attached to your school.
3. Watch events and games online
Whether or not you’re able to connect with fellow students in your area, you can still feel like you’re part of the school community by watching live lectures and sporting events online.
Certainly, these events may be more enjoyable to watch with other students, but if you can’t get people together in-person, maybe get fellow students who aren’t in your area together to watch the events along with you. Then, text them throughout the lecture or game about the event.
4. Occasionally visit the campus
Many schools have a welcome week where they invite distance learners to explore the campus, meet their teachers, and get to know other students. Throughout the year, you may want to attend a few in-person lectures, travel to a game, or visit to hear a guest speaker.
Take a look at your school’s calendar for the year. If possible, make plans to attend at least once a semester. And if you can’t attend in-person, be sure to attend these events virtually.
5. Wear school apparel
This is a simple, but effective way to show your school spirit. What you wear can change how you feel about yourself, and that includes feeling connected to your school. Going out and about while displaying your school spirit can give you a sense of pride in your college or university.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll see someone else wearing your school’s logo, in which case you may want to strike up a conversation.
6. Plan to go to your graduation
Make plans to attend your graduation in-person. It can be nice to know that one day you will likely meet many of your classmates whom you may have only met virtually.
Fostering school spirit as a distance learner is doable with a little effort. I hope these tips will help you do that.