Online Colleges that Encourage a Student Community

Online Colleges that Encourage a Student Community - featured image

If you’re a prospective online student, you will feel isolated at one point in your studies! Indeed, online learning causes feelings of isolation and disconnection! It’s no surprise because face-to-face interactions are typically part of the college experience.

Today, distance-learning students have opportunities to join the community online and on campus. They can become part of student-run organizations and clubs. They can also join college-approved events and professional organizations.

Here are 10 of the online colleges where student communities are aplenty and active.

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Online Colleges that Encourage a Student Community - fact

University of Arizona Global Campus

Chandler, AZ


Types of Student Organizations: By school, academic discipline, and personal interest

  • UAGC online students can engage in student communities through student organizations. The Forbes School of Business & Technology alone has three active student organizations:
  • The Center for Women’s Leadership raises awareness of the roles of women in society.
  • The Association for Computing Machinery delivers updates on technology advancement.
  • The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Chapter provides opportunities in the industry.

Other popular groups are CHAMPS Distinguished Mentor Council, the LatinX Club, and the Military Support and Leadership Club.

Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA


Types of Student Organizations: Community resources, podcasts, and student and alumni networks

Online Life is Liberty’s one-stop-shop for online students seeking student communities that will promote their academic performance, work-life balance, and social well-being. Students have open access to community-building resources, student life events, and personal and professional development opportunities on the Online Life page. There’s an OnLife Podcast, too, exclusive for online students, where their trials and triumphs are highlighted.

Online students can also join the social media communities that Liberty has established, particularly on Facebook. Prayer requests can also be submitted to the LU Shepherd office, while the Alumni Community platform offers plenty of mentorship opportunities for both mentors and mentees.

Arizona State University

Tempe, AZ


Types of Student Organizations: Special interest groups, Greek letter fraternities and sororities, and academic groups

Online students are welcome to enjoy the on-campus spaces open to the public, too, as well as participate in campus-wide events and activities (e.g., sporting events, career fairs and tailgating parties). ASU also has a wide range of online student clubs and organizations for students who want to become part of student communities.

Examples of the 35+ online student community groups are:

  • AZ Digital Devils is open to all undergraduate online students.
  • BeYou at ASU is a community for LGBTQIA2S+ students and their allies.
  • CodeDevils is a group of students interested in coding projects and competitions.

Purdue Global

West Lafayette, IN


Types of Student Organizations: Affinity groups, special interest groups, and academic-based groups

Purdue Global is also known for the impressive number of student organizations for its online students. While every student community’s demographics and goals are different, these groups foster collaboration, camaraderie and community among their members and with the larger Purdue community.

Examples include:

  • Student leaders and faculty advisors, such as the Asian American Cultural Association, Chess Club, and Entrepreneurship Club, usually run student clubs.
  • Honor societies, such as the Tri-Alpha Society, recognize academic excellence.
  • Student associations, such as Autism Speaks U and the Business And Management Student Association, are open for students who meet their specific membership criteria.

Penn State World Campus

University Park, PA


Types of Student Organizations: Registered student organizations, interest groups, affinity groups and honor societies

The student communities at Penn State World Campus can be divided into the following categories:

  • Registered student organizations include groups whose members are selected based on their majors, cultural identity, and interests. Active Minds, the American Association of University Women, and the Digital Multimedia Design Club highlight the wide range of options.
  • Interest groups welcome members with specific interests, such as the Crafts 4 Causes.
  • Affinity groups consist of students with a shared sense of identity (e.g., Students of Color Affinity Group).
  • Honor societies recognize academic excellence, such as the Alpha Sigma Lambda.

University of Central Florida

Orlando, FL


Types of Student Organizations: Affinity groups, interest groups, and community involvement groups

UCF’s Office of Student Involvement encourages online students to become engaged in their choice of registered student organizations listed on Knight Connect. Here, the student organizations and their members can also make announcements, schedule meetings and activities, and invite potential members. The centralized nature makes it easier for online students to enjoy the college experience without setting foot on the campus, although campus visits are also strongly recommended.

Online students who want to access Knight Connect must use their NID and NID password to log in. The student organizations listed include:

  • It Takes A Village
  • Knights Build
  • 4Ever Knights
  • Active Minds

Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR


Types of Student Organizations: Student-led clubs, recreational sports, and cultural resource centers

Oregon State’s Ecampus Learning Community is a Canvas-based platform where online undergraduate students can form their student communities, as well as access resources for their academic success and personal growth. Online students can start enjoying the platform on their first day and get access to it until their graduation.

Examples of the learning community’s organizations include:

  • Student-led clubs, of which there are more than 75, include Women in Science and Active Minds.
  • Recreational sports clubs encourage students to form communities based on their common love for sports and offer fitness programs and intramural sports.

DeVry University

Lisle, IL


Types of Student Organizations: Student-run organizations and student support systems

DeVry aims to provide its online students with a well-rounded college experience through a combination of quality academic instruction, curricular programs, and extracurricular activities through student communities, sports events, and others. Online students can join the  Campus News Facebook group for campus news, upcoming events, and even gossip.

There are also plenty of student-run organizations for students and alumni, including:

  • IEEE Club
  • CompTIA
  • SHRM
  • NSLS Community
  • Delta Mu Delta

Be sure to check out DeVry’s student support systems, too, which are essential for academic success. Student support specialists are available for this purpose, as well as dedicated staff members for financial aid guidance, student employment and internship, and tutoring services.

Florida International University

Miami, FL


Types of Student Organizations: Affinity groups, special interest groups, and academic-based groups

Being a Panther means being part of a strong and supportive family from your admission to your graduation and beyond! As they say, once a Panther, always a Panther. Such a strong sense of community starts with the online orientation session where incoming students receive useful information about:

  • FIU’s extensive resources (e.g., libraries, student support and career development services)
  • Financial aid options and process
  • Global learning

Students also learn about the student organizations with the opportunity for self-guided exploration as they progress in their studies. The Adventist Campus Fellowship, Afghanistan Education Student Outreach Project, and Panther Aikido are a few examples.

University of Maryland Global Campus

Adelphi, MD


Types of Student Organizations: Affinity groups, special interest groups, and academic-based groups

UMGC takes pride in the extensive range of its student community groups that encourage community, collaboration and camaraderie among online students. Here, a sense of community encourages leadership and teamwork, personal and professional development, and a sense of pride about being a UMGC alumni. Many of the student organizations also encourage alumni to participate, meaning it’s possible to still be part of the UMGC even after graduation.

Examples include:

  • Accounting Club
  • Active Minds
  • American Marketing Association
  • Entrepreneurship Club (eClub)
  • Environmental Awareness Club

Maximizing Your Opportunities for Engagement in Student Communities

Keep in mind that it’s your right and responsibility to become part of your preferred student community. You must seize the opportunity, whether it’s handed to you on a silver platter or not.

Make it part of your college experience.

Being part of a student community doesn’t come by accident! You must make a deliberate decision to make active engagement in a student community – or communities, if you can – an integral part of your college experience. You can, for example, set aside time every week to interact with your fellow members, contribute to the group’s cause, and participate in its activities.

Build more meaningful relationships.

Being part of a student community means ongoing opportunities to build strong personal relationships that will enrich your life and the lives of your co-members. You may have to be more open in your interactions and, thus, put yourself in the line of rejection, disappointments and disillusionment, but that’s the risk of building relationships. You will agree that the rewards of friendship outweigh the risks!

Contribute value to the community.

Sharing your experiences, resources and insights with your student community contributes value. You can also offer helpful information and advice. It also matters to provide positive and constructive feedback and ask thought-provoking questions.

Adopt good manners in your interactions.

Whether you’re online or engaging in face-to-face community interactions, embrace good manners! Listening, showing courtesy, and being professional lead to healthy relationships with your community. You should also follow community guidelines and discuss concerns with the proper people.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the meaning of the student community?

The term “student community” refers to the student body that shares common experiences, interests and goals. Subsequently, they form a club, organization or group. The members encourage and foster collaboration, camaraderie, and support among themselves. They also serve the larger campus community and beyond.

Should I join a student community in college?

Yes, of course, you should because it brings numerous benefits, as outlined below.

How can college students contribute to their community?

  • Be an active participant.
  • Take on leadership roles.
  • Volunteer your resources, knowledge and skills.
  • Become a mentor.
  • Promote awareness of your group’s advocacies.
  • Work toward diversity and inclusivity.

What are the benefits of community participation?

  • Enjoy a strong sense of belongingness.
  • Benefit from the social network, emotional support, and practical guidance from fellow students.
  • Enjoy opportunities for personal growth and professional advancement.
  • Increase your civic engagement.
  • Enjoy decreased stress and confidence boost as benefits of being part of a community.

What college programs help promote the student community?

  • Student government
  • Social groups or special interest groups (e.g., chess, language, or writing)
  • Career development groups (e.g.,  Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity and Society for Human Resource Management Chapter)
  • Academic societies and honor societies
  • Diversity and cultural groups (e.g., LGBTQ+ Club)