In our last blog, we discussed how social engagement is key to students’ well-being. But making friends can be easier said than done. Maybe you’re trying online school for the first time. You may be wondering:

Will people like me?

What am I going to do outside of class?

How am I going to make friends? 

We understand that any new transition can be stressful. Here are four tips to help you make friends with your virtual classmates.

1. Join a Club

Clubs are a perfect first step for making friends. 

People tend to connect more easily when they share more in common. They can share interests, life experiences, or hobbies. Joining a club that you’re interested in is a fantastic way to meet people who already like what you like.

Find out if your online school has any virtual clubs. Choose a club that sounds interesting to you. This way you’ll instantly have something in common with the people you meet.

At Sora, joining a virtual club is easy. There’s Hack Club, where people connect over cracking codes and learning tech skills. For art lovers, there’s Photography Club, where students bond over their thirst for creativity. 

2. Meet Outside of School

People who do things together tend to stick together. This is why people would traditionally make friends with people they live near. If you share the same parks, grocery stores, or workspaces, you’re bound to do something together. And shared activities can breed friendship.

Find out if any of your classmates live within driving distance. There are still safe, creative ways to enjoy each other’s physical company. Hiking and other outdoor activities are great options.  Discuss guidelines with your family and friends to decide what kind of activities best suit your needs.

Thankfully, we’re not limited to our geographical area. You can download Teleparty to hold virtual movie nights with a live chat feature. Online gaming platforms provide a fun space to let loose–all in moderation of course. And let’s not underestimate the power of sharing a good meal. Invite your classmates to cook and eat over video calls. Now is a great time to learn some tasty new recipes.

3. Connect on Social Media

Let’s be honest, you’re probably already on social media platforms. But are you using those platforms to forge meaningful connections?

Platforms with an event feature are useful for organizing hangouts. Group chats provide a personalized space. They drive energized connection through live feedback. You can send a picture of an amazing pizza you just baked. Within minutes, your friends are loving it and asking for the recipe. 

Sora’s virtual high school experience jumpstarts connections between classmates and teachers with Discord. This chat platform was originally hot among gaming communities. It’s since become popular for the general community, especially among teens. With Discord, students see the activities of their classmates and enjoy immediate feedback from the Sora community. 

4. Be Curious

Nothing drives a conversation like a good question. This is a lifesaver for shy people who dread talking too much. The right question gets people talking and makes them feel important.

“Being interested is more important in cultivating a relationship and maintaining a relationship than being interesting; that’s what gets the dialogue going. It’s the secret juice of relationships.”

–Todd Kashdan

The best conversation-driving questions are both open-ended and specific. This is a great
1-2-3 punch: (1) start with a “what;” (2) affirm your friend’s answer; (3) immediately follow up with a “why.”

“What”: What’s something interesting most people don’t know about you?

Answer: _____.

Affirmation and “why”: I love that! Why don’t people know that about you?

You can find endless conversation starters at your fingertips, but those are just guides. Nothing replaces the contagious energy of genuine curiosity. 

If quality question-asking sounds intimidating, don’t worry. Sometimes the best question is a simple, “Do you want to hang out?” Inviting people is one of the most direct ways to show your interest in them.

Relax and Be Yourself

Our unofficial fifth tip is to relax and be yourself. Remember, making friends takes time.

If you’re new to online school, don’t worry if it takes some time to make friends. It’s a new school after all. With these tips in your tool belt, you’re well on your way to feeling connected in your budding virtual community.