College is a hard adjustment for everybody, no matter how great it seems on social media. When you add a pandemic and decide to not arrive on campus until the second semester, now college seems like an isolating new environment with no easy way to make connections.
I am a part of this small segment of freshmen who decided to defer their first semester. I was thrust into college, my parents dropped me off and now I suddenly know no one. I wasn’t expecting a big event because I understand that COVID-19 guidelines need to be followed for our campus to continue to flow smoothly, but at least I was hoping there would be something along the lines of “Hey, we see you. You’re not alone. Here is a way to meet other students that are in the same shoes as you.” I haven’t even met anyone in my dorm besides my suitemates and my roommate.
Now, you post on the class Facebook group hoping that someone else who came second semester will also want to meet people. Parents are advertising their children to other parents who all have kids that feel lonely and unmoored by this sudden sea of people. I’m surrounded by hundreds of people at all times, but I’ve never felt so alone. I keep getting told “there are so many other kids that deferred, you’re definitely not the only one.” Then where are they? I completely understand that college is an important time for us to put ourselves out there, but it can be so exhausting not even knowing where to start.
I’m extremely lucky that I have a few in-person classes, and one is small enough that I have been able to interact with a few other kids and form connections in my classes. What about the students that are like me, yet aren’t able to be in classes or aren’t as comfortable going out of their comfort zone? Good luck! Here’s hoping you meet someone somehow. A ton of students decided to not return for second semester because they even came at the so-called “normal time” but struggled with how deeply lonely college currently is.
URI 101 has been a great start to meet new people but, unfortunately, that is a pretty small class. I think it would be beneficial to many students if all of the URI 101 classes would be able to be connected. There would then be the starting point for students to connect with other students who are also fresh to campus and even just the University of Rhode Island itself.
Another great way to allow new students to interact would be to arrange virtual events strictly for new students. I know that it can feel pretty intimidating to go to events when you are alone and feel like you will be the only one there who doesn’t know anyone else, but in an environment created for connection, it will make students feel a lot more comfortable with introducing themselves to other students.
I encourage any new students, if they are reading this, to push themselves out of their comfort zone, even though that may feel extremely uncomfortable sometimes. Go through the student organizations list and look at what interests you; most clubs have created ways to meet virtually. This is a great way to meet people with similar interests as you. All clubs look forward to having new members and you will be a welcome addition to wherever you decide to join.