Have you ever been to a busy doctor’s waiting room or on a crowded elevator? Then you know how it can feel to be surrounded by people and everyone is afraid to talk. The first day of class can be like that.

One of the best ways to start to get to know others is to let them know who you are first. If you have the venue in your online school to create a profile make sure to fill it out. Because you don’t know everyone yet, don’t get too personal, but you may put a picture of yourself up, what state you are in and your occupation and a hobby or two. Sometimes people that share too much information with others they don’t know scare people off. Put down just enough to give everyone who looks at your profile a well rounded picture of you. You can include schools you attended and what you studied.

Teachers will often create some sort of getting to know you game to address the above mentioned first day fright. Try something next time you start an online class. Make it a point to get to know and memorize the names of everyone in your class. If you have some sort of official introduction time take notes. Jot down interesting things about people and ask them later how their new kid is sleeping at nights or what the score of their Saturday city league baseball game was. Engage them in conversation about how their life is going outside of class if they’re comfortable.

Getting to know your classmates in a proactive way can help both you and them feel more engaged in your class. A more friendly feeling between you and other students can come in handy if you hit some rough times during the course of the semester. Reaching out to a friend in the class who knows how hard a certain assignment is can be reassuring and be just what you need to move on and get over the fear hurdles you may encounter.

One of the best ways to help others start to feel comfortable with sharing about themselves is to volunteer information first. You may reach out and say, “Hi, I’m Gordon from Alabama. What’s your name?” It’s small, but it’s a start. It’s this mutual sharing that helps develop strong relationships that can be nourishing and sustaining.

I’d like to share one note on your tone in the interactions you have with other online school classmates. If you are interacting on a project with a group it’s good to keep a more professional tone. One to one interactions are more appropriate for a much more playful and personal expression of interest in what they are doing in their lives.

Being proactive in building trusting relationships with other students can help down the road if you end up getting put on a project or group assignment together. More understanding is typically extended to those who work hard and put themselves out there to get to know others and share about themselves. You’ll benefit in many ways by reaching out and interacting often with your online college classmates. Good luck!

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