Social distancing could create lonely semester for college students

Social distancing could create a lonely semester for college students
Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 6:25 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - University of Arizona students are gearing up for the first day of the fall semester on Monday, Aug. 24.

But with social distancing a big part of stopping the spread of COVID-19, experts said loneliness could be a factor this semester.

As of right now, restrictions are in place across campus, from in-class to the dining halls, even recreation facilities. Student-life activities are also up in the air.

All of these are important ways students typically build connections on campus.

To help curb the loneliness, relationship experts advise doing what you’d normally do in person to make friends, but virtually.

For example, join a club.

The U of A, Arizona State University, even Pima Community College have dozens of clubs and organizations students can join and meet new people. Reach out and see if they’re holding meetings online this fall.

If you're a freshman, talk to your orientation leader or adviser to see what the school is doing this semester to create a sense of community. It could be different virtual events or a virtual welcome party. Just get involved.

Don't be afraid to reach out to your classmates. 

You can see all of their names on Zoom, so message them and see if they want to go for a socially distant walk outside or have a group Facetime chat with other friends.

Experts said it's important to be intentional during this time.

"Community is so important for college students. Finding your friends helps keep you motivated and engaged. So being able to still connect with people, even though many colleges are hybrid and students are online, is really important," relationship researcher, Dr. Marisa Cohen said.

Cohen added, while technology is wonderful, it really can’t take the place of face-to-face interaction.

Maybe host a small, open-air barbecue for friends, but only do what you’re comfortable with.

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