Well, the quick answer to this unforeseen debacle is, no. The realistic answer however, is no, but it will take effort to make and maintain these friendships.
If you’re a 2L or 3L, this is perhaps of less concern to you. Chances are, you made tangible connections with students, in a pre-COVID world that afforded you ample opportunity for face to face interactions and quality in-person time that has led to strong friendships. However, if you’re a 1L, the concern of not being able to build new friendships is legitimate.
Many students around the globe have started their Fall semester from their home office spaces, or let’s be real, their beds, with nothing but a prayer for consistent WIFI and the hope to connect with their classmates behind the glare of a computer screen.
It is that fear of not being able to connect that may drive them to articles like this, and it is that yearning that will allow them, and you, to put in the effort needed to make connections beyond the virtual classroom.
So, how does one make these friendships?
1. Prioritize Creating Friendships
If you’re a 1L, you have just been swept into a new dimension of unending pages of case law, filled with antiquated Latin terms and legalese. Therefore, the concept of friendship may at this point seem trivial or especially burdensome, during a time when time seems non-existent.
If you feel this way, don’t get bogged down. Understand that friendships in law school are essential, and I would argue, just as important as your course work. So, prioritize it. Just as you would prepare for class each day, make it mandatory to make an effort to build connections with others. This may mean literally scheduling social breaks to connect via any of the mediums, I discuss below. However, don’t feel guilty about prioritizing this, as it is necessary for your well-being.
2. Connect via your Course Chatroom
Remote learning means that you will likely be attending your classes virtually through a videoconferencing site. Whether your school utilizes Zoom, WebEx, or another videoconferencing forum, this site will likely have a chatroom option. These chatrooms also usually offer the option to direct message attendees. If so, utilize it. Not to make plans for the weekend, but to fully engage with the course and connect with other students.
If you see someone posting something of interest in the chatroom, feel free to direct message this student to connect. This may very well lead to having a study partner for that course or even a new friend.
3. Group Chats
How many group chats are you currently in? I have about four group chats concurrently going on my phone. One of these chats being the very first group chat I entered when I started law school seven years ago. This group chat includes the friends I studied with in the law school library, the friends who I prepared for the bar with, and the friends who I continue to celebrate life with today.
Starting a group chat with students you get along with, may be the perfect opportunity to develop strong friendships. Different groups may likely begin popping up both via text and social media. Don’t feel compelled to join them all, but feel out a few of them and see if you find your people.
4. Attend Virtual Networking Events
I know you’ve started to receive the invites. The virtual happy hours designed to get to know your professors or meet other 1L students. The virtual interactive meetings designed to meet on campus leaders and to get to know about the different student organizations. Regardless of the event, I know your inbox is starting to get flooded.
As you see these invites trickle in, don’t ignore them. It’s easy to write these events off as cheesy sessions during which awkward silences and even more awkward introductions are a given. However, these are great opportunities to get to know other students.
Unlike your classes, these events will be in a more relaxed setting and will be designed for you to connect. So, take advantage! Also, most importantly, turn your camera on! No one wants to connect with your avatar.
5. Join A Study Group
Another medium through which you can build friendships is through study groups. As the semester rolls on, you will find yourself spending more and more time creating outlines and beginning your preparation for finals. Now is a great time to begin connecting with students in your classes or students you’ve met at virtual events. Even if you’re not studying the same material, just having someone to communicate with can make all the difference.
Also, studying is a great social distancing activity. Feel free to grab your masks and meet up with your study partner somewhere open and conducive to focus. The park or even the beach may be a great place to start.
6. Join Student Organizations
Student organization meetings are another great place to meet students who have similar interests. As a 1L, I can understand if you feel hesitant to join too many student groups and have a lot on your plate. However, in the remote learning environment, this outlet may be one of the few spaces where you can truly bond with other students over issues outside of the classroom. So try to commit to at least 1 or 2, and build your network.
7. Friendship Apps
Finally, another way you can make friends even beyond your law school classmates is on friendship apps. If you are looking for an escape from law school, I get it. Consider joining apps like Bumble BFF to connect with people outside the law school bubble.
Have other ideas for building friendships? Comment below and tell me what method is working for you!
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