How to Stay Connected as an Online Nursing Student

What does it mean to be connected?

To be online? To be friends with someone, whether physically or virtually? According to scientific research, “connectedness is defined as a perception of belonging.” Because a sense of connection increases a student’s well-being and likelihood of academic success, it’s a crucial part of the education process.

Social connection used to be a given in school, but that’s not so anymore. Thanks to COVID and the rise of online education, students have increasingly struggled with loneliness, isolation, and feeling distanced from both their peers and their professors. This can result in greater stress and other mental health issues.

Becoming a nurse is challenging enough without the added stress of feeling like you’re all alone in your endeavor. To that end, we explore five ways to stay connected while earning your online nursing degree.

Share your school experience.

You may be the only person in your family and circle of friends that’s pursuing an online degree. Don’t let that stop you from sharing your experience with them! Although they may not relate to the day-to-day routine, you can celebrate your achievements and milestones, keeping them updated on your progress and upcoming projects.

If you have someone who enjoys listening to ideas, it may be helpful to use them as a sounding board. Sometimes, verbalizing your thoughts to someone, especially someone with an outside perspective, can be helpful in analyzing a situation and figuring out a plan of action.

You may be surprised to find your inner circle more interested than you expected. Even though they are not taking classes with you, their support can boost your confidence and morale.

Get in on Group Sessions

If your program includes synchronous (live) classes, try to attend as many as possible. This is an opportunity to interact with both your classmates and faculty via chat rooms and video conferences. You’ll find a much stronger sense of community that can be encouraging and motivating.

Synchronous classes are the closest thing to sitting in a traditional school. You can listen to other classmates share ideas and join in on discussions. If you have questions, you’ll be able to get answers in the moment instead of waiting for someone to reply to your email.

You may also find these classes to be more interesting. The interactions, interjections, and natural ebb and flow of the energy can be more stimulating than watching prerecorded lectures.

Get Active on Discussion Boards

Another way to have more personal interaction with your peers is by using your platform’s discussion boards. There, you can ask questions, offer constructive feedback, and generally get to know your classmates a bit better. Taking an active role on these boards can introduce you to the rest of your class and open up opportunities to meet like-minded people.

Who knows? You may strike up a friendship and find a study buddy.

Discussion boards are open to all types of conversation topics that are typically organized in threads. These conversations can provoke deeper thought on course material and promote collaboration between you and your classmates. They are safe places to practice analytical and critical thinking. Such discussions often complement classes by helping you absorb the material in a different way.

Meet up with Classmates

Although not always possible, you may find that fellow classmates live in your area. If so, try asking if they’d like to meet in person. Seeing and talking with them face to face can inspire a sense of camaraderie, and you may end up making a friend for life. Meeting someone who you’ve only known virtually makes them more real and meaningful. Plus, the adventure of it will make your school experience that much more exciting. And at the bare minimum, you won’t feel so alone on your scholastic journey.

If you can’t meet in person, try setting up a time to hang out on Zoom outside of school hours. It’s easier to develop a friendship when you’re not constrained by classroom conduct and agendas. This allows you time to laugh, share your experiences, and just get to know each other.

Connect with Professors

Don’t be afraid to participate in class and reach out to your professors. Building a relationship with them can pay off in many ways, not the least of which is having an expert in their field encourage and inspire you to fulfill your potential.

An open line of communication with your professors means you can get answers to your questions, as well as career advice. If you strike up a friendship with them, they’ll be more likely to share priceless insights that can give you a leg up on the competition when it’s time to work in the field.

To connect with your professors, find out their preferred method of communication. Many have virtual office hours when you can meet with them one-on-one via Skype or Zoom. This way, you can talk to them in real time, and they can get to know you. Most faculty members also use email, message boards, and the discussion boards mentioned above.


Connection, or a sense of belonging, is an important factor when it comes to being successful in your education. It boosts morale, self-confidence, and motivation. Since the growth of online schooling, students have struggled with accompanying feelings of isolation and loneliness that threaten to derail their studies.

To combat this, we discussed five ways to stay connected while earning your online nursing degree. Sharing with friends and family, taking an active role in your classes, and getting to know your professors are just a few things you can do to make your schooling feel more like a community.

It’s important not to underestimate the importance of connection and how the lack of it may affect you. Enjoying interaction with your peers, meeting new people, and engaging in thoughtful discussions are all valuable parts of your education.