Lindsay Ann Henefer
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed the typical college experience in more ways than we could have imagined. However, the transition to being online allows us to have more flexibility in terms of our locations. We can sign into a Zoom meeting without having to worry about a commute or finding a ride home. While the pandemic itself has been extremely difficult to navigate, the positive side is how easy it is to get involved on campus from anywhere.
While being off-campus has its upsides, it is hard not to feel disconnected from the campus community. Getting involved is not only difficult, but can sometimes be inconvenient, especially without reliable transportation. As a student who has been learning remotely since the beginning of the pandemic, I was concerned that I would feel completely isolated from campus. Getting involved will also connect you to other students, and with most classes not meeting in person this is even more crucial. We are not getting the same amount of interaction as we normally would throughout the day, so building in extra time to socialize with others is necessary. However, by reaching out to student organizations and taking part in the meetings that were happening over Zoom, I no longer felt so far away. Even though I would prefer to be on campus right now, I understand that things are nowhere near the same as they have been in the past, so it would be a completely dissimilar experience.
If you are looking to get involved on campus from a distance, WaveLink offers a search filter on events to only display the ones that are online. Any socially distant events will also be on WaveLink, or you can stay updated by following the organization’s social media pages. . To find events on WaveLink, simply log in with your UNCW credentials and click Events. If you are looking to find an organization to be involved in, click Organizations, which will bring you to an alphabetized list of campus clubs along with the contact information for officers. There is a wealth of benefits to getting involved as an off-campus student. You will have the opportunity to meet other students that you may not have met otherwise, especially if they are outside of your major. Networking is another positive that comes with being involved, as well as gaining more experience working with teams and building “people skills.”
Spending more time on campus (being pandemic cautious of course) is also greatly beneficial. It may not sound like a big adjustment, but it will give you more of a feel for the campus atmosphere, especially if you usually just leave campus right after class. Once the weather warms up, spend some time on campus studying outside so you can feel more connected. It also helps to plan your schedule in a way that you can spend most of your time on campus rather than going back and forth to your off-campus dwelling. Having friends who live on campus is also helpful, as they are more inclined to know what events or meetings are happening that week and will be able to share that information with you.
Involvement can also aid in helping you manage the stress that comes with being a college student, especially in these challenging times. Having time to disconnect with the academics gives you an opportunity to recharge and reprioritize, rather than solely focusing on all the work that you have due on Sunday.
Do not be afraid to check things out yourself on WaveLink or social media. Most organizations (if not all) tend to heavily advertise any events that way to draw students. Now is the time to start searching for organizations that may interest you, especially since meetings are so easily accessible. You could make lasting friendships and further enrich your college experience, so it is worth a try!