College. It’s a time for new beginnings and new friendships. It’s a time for adventure and experiences. It’s a time for… cancelled plans and staying home?

2020 has hurt a lot of people in a lot of ways, and the traditional college experience is no exception. Currently gone are the days of large, mask-less parties and giant in-person classes. The new safety measures campuses across the country are taking might help slow the spread of COVID, but they’re not stopping boredom and—in some cases—depression in the least bit.

But there’s still hope for the college connections you’ve always wanted. The route to get there just looks a little different these days.

Since the goal of ME+iD is to help people form connections with others, we’ve decided that now is the perfect time to put together a list of ways college students can still safely form connections—even if they’re working from their parents’ basement.

1. Join a campus organization.

While campus organizations are traditionally on-campus experiences, many of them are now flocking to the digital scene in an effort to keep members and abide by safety measures. This allows you to take advantage of campus organizations even if you are several thousand miles away!

Exploring groups that are interesting to you is a sure-fire way to find others with similar interests and hobbies (seeing as it’s literally a group dedicated to the thing you like). Most colleges have a group or club for just about everything: dancing, chess, politics, religion, music, environmental causes, bad movies, Quidditch—you name it, they probably have it. Just pick a club and see if it’s a good fit for you. If it’s not, move on to the next!

2. Organize activities with roommates.

If you did decide to move to campus, you’ve already got built-in access to potential friends around your same age: roommates. Make an effort to get to know your roommates (beyond trying to figure out when their favorite time to hog the bathroom is) and befriend them.

Start by arranging movie nights or game nights. You could even try to set up a weekly time that works with everyone’s schedules. Chances are pretty high that while you’ll start with the organized activity, the night will move to a slower get-to-know-you pace that might just have you talking for hours after.

3. Form a virtual study group.

Reach out to classmates via chat functions or group discussion boards and start a virtual study group for the classes you are most interested in. This will allow you one-on-one time with classmates who are interested in the same subjects as you are. You’ll naturally get to know them better and you might even get to learn a little something extra about your class material along the way! Even if the meetings are virtual, the more intimate group setting will let your conversations stray from schoolwork to life before returning (theoretically) to schoolwork again.

4. Wear a ME+iD tee.

Whether you’re in a spaced-out classroom, a Zoom classroom or even in line at the food court, a ME+iD tee naturally shouts your interests and passions to those around you, allowing interested parties to take the next step in continuing the conversation. The bonus? Since the shirt is about something you already care about, the conversation will be too!

Once you’ve formed that initial connection, then what?

Don’t just stop there and expect the friendship to be formed; strike while the iron is hot! Actively take the next step and invite the relationship to continue. Keep showing up for the group activities. Schedule another study session. Invite people to a Zoom party. []

It might be intimidating at first, but the more you practice reaching out and connecting, the better chance you’ll find the college connections you’ve been dreaming of all along. Happy connecting!