Crews: social support for happy, healthy college students

Pauline Bulala, student and Orientation Leader at North Carolina State University

Freshman year.

With those two words, what emotions did you instantly feel? Was it anxiety, maybe a pinch of excitement with a dash of dread? Starting over and forming new friendships can be terrifying those first few weeks of college.

Every incoming university student can identify with feeling lost. Similar to being lost in space, it can feel isolating when you don’t find a place of friendship, trust, and loyalty. College can be hard enough, but without a community or a safe space or person to turn to, it can feel especially overwhelming. Most students simply want to find their crew.

What about their Capsule Crew?

Imagine a way to expose students to lessons that aren’t offered in most course catalogs but are essential for life. Want to know more about dating, resolving arguments with friends, or managing the stress of midterms? Capsule Crews are offered as a valuable extension of Capsule’s missions. They are an opportunity to meet up with students while taking the course, and long after completing it.

When students opt in, they are matched based on similar majors or similar interests & aspirations. The matching is random and groups can range from four to six students. Upon matching, the Crews have an opportunity to meet a place of their choosing on their own campus -- be it the dining hall, student union, or even at restaurants around campus.

Crews are critical to providing a structured practice for face-to-face collaboration. They are a chance to form real-life connections and friendships by sharing the deeper things that would otherwise feel awkward to randomly bring up. Capsule Crews are fully equipped with tailor-made discussion prompts and guiding ground rules, along with interactive role-playing, unique icebreakers, and fun freebies.

Our goal is to intertwine hands-on application of important soft skills with the belonging of social community. We hear from many students, “I wish I’d known others were going through the same thing!” Capsule Crews give them a chance to learn they have a support system of people who care about what’s more than skin deep.

Capsule Crews are regulated through both the school and its partnership with Capsule. However, instead of having Capsule discussion facilitators at every meeting, ground rules set expectations and consequences. Assignments teach active listening and respect. Provided with a discussion guideline and specific questions to drive the conversation, students are in control of what they choose to share.

This is designed based on a survey done by the Capsule team, in which respondents said they thought moderators and discussion “supervisors” actually hinder the free-flowing nature of the conversation. Too much oversight can make students feel micromanaged; they prefer a more casual atmosphere and peer-to-peer collaboration. This stays true to Capsule's unique value proposition: we are built by young adults, for young adults who get it. No coddling allowed!

Still, the question lingers: will students be attracted to Crews?

In a survey we ran, 74% of respondents said they felt anxious about meeting new people when thinking back to the first day of college or a new job. 97% said they would join to form meaningful friendships, become happier and healthier, develop leadership and communication skills, and get better grades or perform better at work. That's high intrinsic motivation! 61% said they would be highly interested in joining a crew. 24% were on the fence, stating that they were were naturally introverted and needed more information. That's okay! Capsule crews are an option, here for you when you are ready.

Capsule Crews are more than just a meetup. They're for the student that is searching for something real below the surface. For the student that wants to connect with other peers in their major, or learn about better study techniques, or tackle a tough situation that they haven’t learned how to navigate yet. For the student who simply wishes to find a group of people to talk to. College can be a lonely journey -- make it a Capsule journey.

Additionally, the occasional offering of free food and free giveaways like stickers per meeting don’t hurt! In fact, Capsule Crew meetings cater to the universal language of the common-day college student -- free stuff.

On a more serious note, Capsule Crews are pivotal in connecting similar but unique students and giving them the chance to form friendships and study groups, breakfast buddies or a table to sit with at dinner, and more. It is more than simply talking about Capsule’s missions and its takeaways -- it is discussion, collaboration, and community.

How will you find your Crew?

Learn how your school can help students help one another through Capsule at

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