More individuals today want to obtain a degree while raising a family or while hanging onto a current career. In those cases, the ability to earn a degree in an online college program can prove beneficial. But, socializing is part and parcel of an academic experience, and some online students and instructors have found ways to overcome that lack of on-campus interaction through online college clubs.
Online college clubs usually begin when students feels isolated from classmates or if students see the value in creating an online network filled with like-minded individuals. In some cases, these clubs further a student’s education. In other cases, the student can begin to understand how online social media could help to further a career.
Interactive networking in social media venues such as Second Life can provide a learning experience for students who are unfamiliar with these spaces. Additionally, these virtual meetings help students feel that they belong to a group, bridging the possible isolation provided by distance learning. These groups may even meet face-to-face on occasion, especially if those students live near campus or in the same towns.
Since many online learners consist of adults who want to advance or change their careers while still working a full time job, these students tend to be more career oriented and focused on time management. The ‘club’ for these online students, then, becomes a network that could help when that student is ready to change jobs or a career.
Part of the decision to create and/or join an online education club is to meet prerequisites for fraternities or for honors societies. Some colleges feel the benefits provided by these clubs, such as student retention, and have nurtured the clubs. If students feel as though they are part of a community, they are less likely to drop out of a program or to delay in obtaining their degree.
In the following list of online college clubs, you might discover a variety of situations that can allow for socializing and networking. Virtual book clubs, chat room meetings and course/major based clubs are common. Other clubs are nationwide or international, allowing for membership across a wide range of individual interests:
- African American Literature Book Club: This group, also known as Thumper’s Corner, provides a space for students and individuals who want to discuss poetry, literature, culture and more pertaining to Africa and African Americans.
- Alpha Lambda chapter of Alpha Sigma Lambda for Ashford University: This group provides one example of fraternal organizations reaching out to nontraditional students. This organization provides recognition for academic achievements and contributions.
- Berkeley College Clubs: Celebrating 10 years of online teaching and learning, Berkeley College prides itself in clubs for online students, including a book club, the Healthy Cafe, Parent Club or Student Government Association.
- College Blender: Just because you’re online and not on campus does not mean that you cannot join in on online venues such as College Blender. Join in on the community and find spaces that fit you and your interests.
- De Anza’s Inter Club Council: This page is an example of what many colleges offer online, a way to browse through clubs for students who are involved on campus and through distance learning. While some clubs focus on local events, many of these clubs are open to online students.
- Distance Learning Association: This association exists to enhance its member’s educational experiences by providing products and services that make their lives easier and more fulfilling.
- eCampus Student Activity Center: This center, provided by St. Petersburg College in Florida, presents a number of clubs geared toward the distance learner, including Phi Theta Kappa, Digital Artists in Motion, the Seminole Campus for Christ and the Hospitality Club.
- Epernicus: This site is designed specifically for research scientists, who can connect with real world scientific networks to find resources.
- Experience Project: This is a living collection of shared experienced where you can learn, share and empower yourself and others through your experiences.
- FledgeWing: If you want to springboard your career and ideas, take your entrepreneurial spirit to this site, which welcomes students from a variety of supported universities.
- IDEA Center Online: IDEA, or Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness, is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping students create IDEA Clubs on campus and online to discuss intelligent design theory and the creation – evolution issue.
- iTalki: This space is for learning a new language, but it also is for networking and practicing that language with language exchange partners and groups.
- LabSpace: This OpenLearn Web site offers free access to learning materials from higher education courses, where students and instructors can collaborate with others and publish new version of the learning materials.
- LibraryThing: One of the most elaborate online social networks for bibliophiles. Catalog your books by project, access that library from anywhere and use tag-based browsing, ratings, reviews and more to work on your projects or simply for pleasure.
- Mathematical Association of America: The MAA is the largest mathematical society in the world that focuses on mathematics for students, faculty, professional mathematicians and all who are interested in the mathematical sciences at the undergraduate level.
- Meetup: The tag line is “do something, learn something, share something, change something.” This space is for any group that wants to meet either in person or virtually.
- Second Life: Second Life provides a virtual home for some of the world’s most prestigious universities and academic institutions. Virtual classrooms at MIT allow for online collaboration, while Notre Dame makes use of Second Life as a cost effective solution to distance learning. You can enter book clubs, visit Shakespearean realms, create a space station and more. Design, build, code, perform and collaborate.
- Student Bar Association: Concord Law School at Kaplan University formed the nation’s first online Student Bar Association (SBA) in June 2003. A primary function of the SBA is to help incoming year students adjust to the unique requirements of an online law school and legal education.
- Student Club: This club offers an online community for English students worldwide. This club is sponsored by Embassy CES, one of the world’s leading English language course providers.
- The International Students’ Association at Skyline: This club is an example of a club that reaches out to both on-campus and online students. Online students who live in the San Bruno, California, area can join in on field trips or tours.
- The LERN Faculty Club: Not all clubs are for students. This club is for faculty, including online courses and ‘how to’ information. Faculty members are eligible to participate if his or her institution has joined.
- USDLA: The United States Distance Learning Association was the first nonprofit Distance Learning association in the United States to support Distance Learning research, development and praxis across the complete arena of education, training and communications. This association is for everyone, from students to organizations.
- World Campus Psychology Club: This link leads to a story about this club, as the club truly is exclusive. This club, the first fully online psychology club in the world, is for students enrolled in the online psychology bachelor of arts and bachelor of science programs offered by the College of the Liberal Arts through Penn State World Campus. The Penn State World Campus specializes in adult online education.