A new chapter
As if starting a new academic program, oftentimes in a new city, isn’t overwhelming enough, university often means surrounding yourself with new people. While it can be exciting and fresh, it can also be nerve-wracking.
If you’re starting a new post-secondary experience this fall, I’m right there with you. However, things are a little different for me this time around. I’ve already been through one major post-secondary transition, as in 2019 I moved to London, Ontario to pursue my undergraduate degree at Western University. Since then, I’ve spent the past few years in a variety of positions that centralize around supporting high school students with their transition to university life. I’d like to say I’m somewhat qualified to provide some helpful insights on ways you can connect with future classmates before school starts.
Join class Facebook pages
One of the easiest ways to connect with your future classmates is through class Facebook pages. When I was offered admission to Western, there were university-run Facebook groups I could join. There were staff members and current students in the groups to answer questions.
A lot of people will make introductory posts about themselves in these groups: don’t be afraid to comment on someone else’s post if you have something in common with them! These groups are often a jumping-off place for other group chats to form. People may form groups that are exclusively for students in a specific program or residence. You can also try and find a roommate through these group chats!
If you don’t have a Facebook account before post-secondary, I would recommend creating one. In my experience, many on-campus student groups tend to use Facebook/Messenger to communicate.
Attend school events
Schools often run events to prepare students for their transition. If you can, try to attend these events! Before my undergrad, I attended Summer Academic Orientation (SAO). During this event, I met with an advisor to go over course selection and participated in information sessions with other incoming students. In the fall, I ran into one of the students from my SAO group on campus!
Community Connections is another program run by Western to welcome incoming students to campus before school starts. I’ve worked with this program in the past and, while it wasn’t around when I was entering undergrad, I’ve seen the ways that it can facilitate connections. You can meet other students, get a feel for campus, and even spend the night in residence!
Talk to current students
You can establish a sense of connection on campus by talking to upper-year students. These people “know the ropes” and can give you advice that helps ease your transition. If you don’t know anyone who attends the school you are interested in, many schools have student ambassador programs that you can reach out to. Through these programs, you can message current students about their experiences.
I’m a student ambassador at Western University and love talking to incoming students. If your school doesn’t offer an ambassador program, check out LinkedIn to connect with current students… I promise we’re nice and want to help!
If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to current students: at Western, you can read our Unibuddy and Thrive Online blogs to hear from them!
See you in September!
While it can be nice to get a head-start on your social game throughout the summer, don’t get nervous if you haven’t connected with your peers yet. Additionally, don’t think that you’re missing out if you’re uncomfortable reaching out to other students online. I promise, come the fall, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet new people. You’ll end up meeting some of your best friends — whether that be online before school starts or on-campus someday.