Finding Community as an Online College Student
Having a houseful of boys on any given night has become a norm for the Orr household.
When they were in middle school, I would meet moms at the grocery store, the gym, or at church to transfer kiddos from one vehicle to the next.
As they’ve gotten older, they seem to appear from nowhere. Two, four, or six at a time…and they are usually hungry. We have fully embraced the idea of the “brotherhood”. They feel comfortable in our home. They are home.
What happens when they all grow up and graduate high school? How will the social norm for these boys change?
For most students that means attending a university, moving on to an internship, or straight into their career field. But this season of life can sometimes feel awkward for students living at home while attending an online college.
Let’s look at a few ways to successfully help your online college student find community.
Look for new friends in familiar places.
Church or Bible study groups like Bible Study Fellowship are great places to find a new peer group. If it helps your young adult to visit new churches, cheerfully support their decision to do so. Often, it takes getting out from under mom’s protective wing to find the courage to spread their own wings.
They may also enjoy learning about the different teaching styles and outreach opportunities of surrounding congregations.
Travel the world in search of friendship.
Encourage your young adult to consider traveling during this transitional time. Many online college classes do not have a set schedule, only coursework and due dates.
Taking a break to enjoy a road trip with friends would fill their need for camaraderie. Even a semester mission trip to serve overseas has a host of educational and social benefits.
Friendship on the clock.
As students begin this transition into adulthood, so does their need to become self-sufficient. With that independance comes employment.
On the job relationships are important to make and maintain. It’s not easy to get along with people you didn’t choose to be around and not all personalities are compatible. In the same token, through part or full time employment, young adults can develop life-long friendships.
Tend what’s there.
Encourage your young adult to not become so focused on new roads ahead that they neglect the beautiful friendships they already have. Even if all their friends are attending college elsewhere, they will return for holidays and in between semesters.
Inspire your young adult to make time to get together with old friends and then you lead by example. Quality relationships take time to build and an ongoing investment to keep them.
I always wanted to be the house kids flocked to. As my children have grown, I’ve enjoyed hundreds of nights with stinky socks and open bags of Cheetos strewn across the floor. I’ve prayed without ceasing for the friends my children will make once they are on their own.
As your students grow and move into new seasons, pray that they will not only look for quality, God-centered relationships, but that they would also be a light to those they meet.