Your freshman year of college is like kindergarten.
You don’t get story time or recess — but you do get the chance to meet a bunch of new people at once. And just like in kindergarten, you can find a lifelong friend simply by walking up to someone and saying hello.
But building a social circle your first year in college is more difficult than it sounds. After all, you’ve left most of your friendships behind in high school and have to start over again. If you struggle with talking to new people, a clean slate may intimidate you more than when you were five.
How do you overcome these challenges and make new friends in college? Try these unconventional methods:
You may not realize it, but you will develop a routine this year: you might buy coffee at the same shop every morning, sit in the same spot in the library to read, or work out at the same machines at the gym a few days each week. If your schedule becomes predictable, you’ll start to notice people who share it as well. Next time you see that familiar face in the coffee line or on the treadmills, strike up a conversation — you will already have something in common.
Even if you don’t need help to do homework or prepare for your next test, hosting a study session for classmates will give you a chance to know them better. Stock up on snacks and head somewhere with space to work, such as the lounge in your building, the student center, or an empty classroom. Building a group early in the year will help you get ready for projects, term papers, and finals as the course progresses.
No, you shouldn’t attend dorm events, blood drives, or holiday parties just for the snack table … but these events let you meet people you may not otherwise see in your day-to-day routine. Instead of grabbing something to eat and rushing off, stick around and socialize. If you would rather stay home, make your own food and leave the door open to create an informal meet-and-greet.
Freshman year comes with lots of chances to join new groups. Enter the rushing process for a fraternity or sorority, try out for a sports team, or audition for a drama production. Even if you don’t make the cut, you’ll meet other people who share your interests and even find out about other opportunities for getting involved on campus.
Sometimes a gutsy move can make an unlikely friend. The next time you head to the dining hall alone, find someone sitting by themselves and offer to join him; talk about your classes, plans for the weekend, and of course, the food. Even if you don’t find a lifelong friend, you will at least know one more person on campus — and you can always try again during the next meal.
If you have a harder time making lots of friends at once, use one friend as your gateway to meeting new people. That one friend can help you reach out to others who may have something in common with you. Next time they have a hangout planned with a group, ask about joining in — then start the process all over again.
No matter where you look for friends, remember that every freshman is in the same situation. Everyone who is starting out wants to meet new people, and often appreciates when someone else makes the first move. If you stretch yourself now and build relationships in dorms, campus clubs, the gym, or your classes, you will have a much easier time adjusting to college life.
In other words, treat the situation like a kindergartener — just reach out and start talking.
Looking for more ways to find friendships? Check out our article: This Fall I Want to Make More Friends
Hoyt, E. (2014, July 22). The best places to make friends in college. Retrieved from Fastweb