Edited by Laura Morrison, for GradSchools.com, March 2014
If you're in the process of researching potential online master's degree programs, it's likely you understand your academic experience will be quite different from one you'd find in an on-campus track. While the quality of online degree programs can be as high as their traditional counterparts, you won't be sharing a physical classroom with fellow students.
Getting to know new people can be difficult, so it's understandable to see why you may feel uncertain about your chances of getting to know your classmates in online degree programs. But never fear, as there are a few ways you can make deep connections with your fellow online learners.
Turn to social media
From Facebook and Twitter to YouTube and LinkedIn, the Internet's got more than its fair share of social media websites. With so many, it's likely you - and your classmates - use at least one of them. Connecting with your classmates on these websites is worth a shot, as these platforms provide you with a chance to get to know fellow online students beyond class discussions and projects.
If you're interested in networking with your classmates, consider finding and connecting with them on LinkedIn. However, if you're looking to have more casual conversations, you may want to take advantage of Facebook's "Groups" function. According to Facebook, this feature allows you and a select group of individuals to share updates and chat with one another in your own little space on the popular website.
Plan group outings
This tip isn't the easiest for online students taking classes on opposite ends of the country, but it's certainly possible for those who live in the same region. For instance, let's say you and your classmates all reside in New England states. You could all agree to meet at a convenient location on a specific date and get to know one another outside of the virtual classroom. Or, if just one classmate is located near you, reach out and see it he or she wants to grab a cup of coffee.
Just say "hi"
Sometimes, the best friendships begin with a simple greeting. If you have your classmates' contact information, and you'd like to be friendly, just reach out to them via email. Introduce yourself, explain why you chose to enroll in your degree program and ask about them. Sometimes the simplest methods are the most effective.
About the Author: Laura Morrison is the Web Content Manager for GradSchools.com. She earned an MBA from the Rutgers School of Business in 2010.