If you’re like many students, starting college means striking out on your own, forging your path through life, and developing the skills that are sure to result in financial success. At least that’s the dream, right? But what happens when going off to college means leaving behind the familiarity of your family and friends? Or living in a new city that you have no idea how to navigate? What about striving to make ends meet financially and finally understanding what it means to budget? What is Ramen anyway?
College isn’t always what we conjure up in our heads. While it is a time of self-growth and development, getting a foothold in your new chapter can be challenging. Because of that, we’re sharing a few tips to help you embrace the unfamiliar and start making new friends in college.
Get out of your comfort zone.
We can give you countless ideas, but they all start with this one piece of advice. If you want to make new friends, you’ll have to get a little uncomfortable. But when you think about it, that’s a massive part of what college is about, right? To create new experiences and meet people, you’ll have to leave the comfort of your dorm room and put yourself out there. We’ll talk about a few different ways to do this, but it’s essential to go into this process expecting to do more than just what’s familiar. This is about being “ok” with not having a grasp on this phase of life.
Make friends in your dorm.
At no other time in your life will you be living with this many people. Living in a dorm doesn’t just mean living with roommates or suitemates. It means there’s a whole building of people you can get to know. Most dorms are equipped with community rooms of some kind, so an easy way to branch out and get to know people would be by doing your homework in a community room instead of your own bedroom. Since many students live on campus and don’t need a car, you could offer to carpool to the market or even create “watch parties” of your favorite TV shows. Post opportunities for group outings on the bulletin board and keep the RA in the loop of any sight-seeing trips around the city. The more you engage with people, the more your relationships will grow over time.
Bonus tip: a sure-fire way to make friends in college is to ask your mom to bake some treats and share them with people in your dorm — everybody loves cookies.
Consider an open door policy.
Whenever it’s appropriate, don’t be afraid to leave your room door open. Besides being a signal that you welcome small talk, you never know when another student will hear what music you’re playing, show you’re watching or even overhear what you’re talking about with your roommates. Remember that the freshmen on your floor are looking for opportunities to connect, just like you are.
Looking for friends? Join the club.
College campuses are full of extracurricular opportunities. From academic organizations and Greek life to hobby-based clubs and everything in between, there’s likely a way you can get plugged in with students who share a common interest. “Welcome Week” is a popular semester kick-off event where clubs set up booths and give out freebies like food and t-shirts. Do your homework and make a list of some you’d like to know more about. Pace yourself, and resist the urge to sign up for everything that remotely sounds interesting. When you first start college, it can be fun to get an idea of what each group is like, but overextending yourself can backfire.
Joining a fraternity or sorority is a fail-proof way of making friends in college. Many fraternities and sororities focus on community involvement and leadership development, and there’s always an opportunity for an upperclassman to guide you through your college years. If Greek life is for you, take the time to understand the process of recruiting, rushing and pledging here.
Get an on-campus job.
Want a fool-proof way of making friends in college? Live and work in the same place. Whether it’s at the school bookstore or coffeeshop, you can literally get paid and get to know people at the same time. Visit your campus Career Services center and they’ll give you a list of all the jobs you can apply for. Better yet, they’ll be able to coach you on your interview skills and help make your resume irresistible to employers. If you’re not making regular appointments with the Career Services staff you’re missing out on a very valuable resource.
Break the ice with a classmate.
It may seem hard, but you can do it. Get past the awkward and get to know a classmate. If just introducing yourself isn’t your speed, then ask a classmate if they understood the assignment or if the class is what they thought it’d be. People may shy away from talking about themselves initially, so forging a bond over the dislike of oxford commas is a fine place to start.
If you’re assigned a study group, be active and participate in discussion. Take opportunities to ask questions and pay attention to what your classmates are saying.
Making friends in college might seem like a daunting task, but just be yourself, get out of your comfort zone, and it will start to come naturally for you.
Learn more about navigating the college years
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