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How to Make Friends in Online High School

Written by Laura Amendola on Tuesday, 14 May 2024. Posted in Traditional Students

Several people working on laptops.

Student communities, social media, meetups, and more allow online students the opportunity to socialize and make friends. In this guide, we highlight tips for students looking for ways to connect with fellow learners or meet new people outside of school while completing their studies online.

1. Be active on the Student Community

A student community is a virtual space students can go to pose questions to staff, form study groups, join clubs, and connect with others enrolled in online school. It’s one of the most effective ways to make friends in your online program.

James Madison High School (JMHS) has a Student Community where students can virtually gather. Shawn Bryant, JMHS Community Manager, describes it as “a gateway you can turn to where you can talk with other students when you’re stressed and need to get away from your studies.” Having this kind of space can be crucial for high school students who feel isolated learning from home.

As a JMHS student, you can join the Community and start participating in groups and building relationships. Virtual study groups can be extra beneficial because they allow you to get support, learn, and socialize all in one spot. You’ll be on your way to a high school BFF in no time.

Read more: 3 Tips to Help You Stay Motivated in Online School

2. Engage on social media

Besides student communities, regular social media channels like Facebook and Instagram are great ways to meet new people.

Being active in the comment section of your school’s social media posts is a great way to interact with other students. Jessica Ross, a social media manager for various online schools, says these spaces are “great sources of motivation and help from other students and graduates who are going through or have gone through the program. They frequently ask each other for tips and celebrate each other's successes.”

Read more: Pros and Cons of Online High School

3. Attend your graduation ceremony

This tip is a bit different than the others in that you can’t really do this one until you’ve finished your online program. Once you’ve graduated, you can look into whether your online school has a graduation ceremony. This could involve travel and is therefore not feasible for everyone, but if it’s possible for you to attend you’ll be able to meet other graduates who know exactly what it’s like to learn in this somewhat unconventional way.

The experience of attending your graduation ceremony is irreplaceable. You may be surprised how many people also walking across that stage have stories similar to yours. One thing that students who have attended the Penn Foster Group graduation ceremony have mentioned is the sense of pride evident in the atmosphere.

Pride in one’s accomplishments is a powerful thing to bond over, which is why attending your school’s ceremony is a great way to make connections and friends!

4. Look for and attend meet ups

Some students manage to connect with other students in their area through social media. Sometimes a student or a group of students organize meetups in their area if they find a good number of fellow students and interest is high. These are usually done in public spaces to ensure safety.

Your school may also orchestrate official meetups. This may not be local to you and therefore may not be as convenient, but they can be a great way to meet people from the school!

Make friends outside of your online school

Finding fellow online learners who you connect with can be invaluable. However, it’s important not to limit yourself. Just because some people aren’t going about their education the same way doesn’t mean they aren’t worth getting to know as well.

There are many ways you can make other friends while learning online!

Read more: A Day in the Life of a High School Student (Online High School Edition)

1. Join clubs

Clubs are always a great way to meet new people and make friends! Since clubs are usually focused on a specific interest, you’ll be sure to have at least one thing in common with the other club members.

James Madison graduate Hannah Alfonso suggests joining clubs as a way to socialize while in online school: “I would say definitely if socialization is a concern, that joining clubs outside, sports, different things like that is something that can be helpful. I had a job and things like that where I could get socialization.”

There are clubs for almost everything, and some are even online for those who have social anxiety and struggle to meet new people in person. You may even find clubs within your school, like on the student community. When participating in clubs, you could end up forming friendships you’ll keep for years to come!

2. Try out a sport

Taking up a sport is one of the best ways to make new friends. Being part of a team can help build great relationships and foster camaraderie. There are so many sports to choose from as well, so you don’t have to settle for the obvious choices like basketball, soccer, softball, etc. Anything competitive can be considered a sport.

Similar to the academic pride you may feel if you attend your graduation ceremony, the pride you share with your teammates when you win or even just improve or hit a milestone can be huge bonding factors. You may create memories you’ll look back on fondly for the rest of your life.

Read more: 3 Ways Online High School Students Can Make Friends

3. Consider getting a job

So many people find themselves getting so close with their coworkers they end up spending a lot of time with them outside of work. If you’re a traditional high school aged student, you can get a part-time job where you can meet people and build relationships. As Hannah mentioned above, having a job is a big way to fill the socialization gap that could exist (if you let it) in online school.

4. Maintain your pre-virtual learning relationships

We’ve covered a lot of ways to make new friends, but what about the friends you already have? Many of you may have great friends you’ve made in brick-and-mortar school or in extra-curriculars or even in your neighborhoods, and these friendships can continue to thrive once you start online school! You may even end up inspiring a friend to switch to online as well! Hannah mentions she had friends from when she was in traditional school, so she didn’t feel like the social piece of school was missing.

These friendships might look a bit different once you start online school if you were used to seeing these friends every day in a classroom setting, but one of the great things about technology is it allows you to stay in touch easily with the people you can no longer see regularly. Life doesn’t have to change that much with this education environment switch.

Read more: Why Online High School Is so Much Fun When You Bring a Friend Along

Start making friends today!

Now that you know so many different ways to make friends, both conventional and not, get started by signing up for the James Madison High School Student Community! You don’t have to go on this online school journey alone!

About the Author

Laura Amendola

Laura Amendola

Laura Amendola started her Penn Foster Group career in 2015 in the Education department, where she worked closely with instructors to help students achieve their goals. She has a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature with a minor in Writing from Marywood University. Laura enjoys reading, snuggling with her cat, and recently has formed a love-hate relationship with cooking.