College can be a major adjustment. Not only have you left the familiarity of high school, but you are in a new place, studying at a higher level, and have more independence than ever. You’ll likely be living on your own for the first time. Although you may keep in touch with a few friends from high school, you may not know many other students on campus when you first arrive. Scary? Yes! But this is an opportunity to have new experiences and meet new people. Here are some tips to help make your transition to college easier.
Use social media.
Many schools have a social media page for admitted incoming students. Consider making a post introducing yourself, asking whether there are others from your area, or asking if anyone shares one of your interests. Keep an eye on the page for posts from other students looking to meet new people. If you’re living in a dorm, you can also use social media to connect with your future roommate! Once you get to campus, try apps like Bumble BFF, which introduces you to people looking for friendship, not dates.
Connect at orientation.
Even if you don’t think you need to go to orientation, sign up anyway! You will meet other freshmen and get a head start on making friends. Talk to the people sitting next to you when you learn about campus policies or sit down for breakfast; even if you don’t live in the same dorm or plan to study the same major, you can absolutely be friends! If you talked with anyone via social media over the summer, send them a message and ask to meet up during orientation.
Help someone move in.
If you’ve finished with your own boxes and you see someone else just starting to unload their car, offer to help. Even if you don’t end up being BFFs, they’ll never forget what you did for them. And hey, if you help multiple people on your floor, you’ll instantly be the most popular person!
Join clubs and groups that interest you.
You’ll find clubs on campus for almost any interest. From intramural sports, to human interest groups, to games and activities, you’re bound to find others who care about the same things as you. Check for flyers around campus announcing meetings, and check your school’s website for more information. Don’t hesitate to try new things too. Typically at orientation there will be an activities fair—sign up for anything that sounds remotely interesting! Once you’ve tried a few different activities, you can decide what you enjoy and what you don’t want to keep doing. No matter what, you’ll have met a variety of people, and you may decide to stay in touch with some even if you decide not to continue with an extracurricular.
Ask a classmate to study together.
It’s always a good idea to find a “study buddy.” You can swap notes if one of you misses a class, ask questions about homework or due dates, and prep for tests together. Start by introducing yourself to some of the people sitting near you during the first couple of classes. A few weeks into the semester is the perfect time to ask them to exchange phone numbers or email addresses, if it doesn’t come up before then. If there is an upcoming paper due, ask if you can help each other edit your work. When the first exam gets close, ask to meet and study together. Not only will this help you succeed in class, you might also find people that you have other things in common with; more than a few great friendships (and relationships) have started this way!
Spend time in common areas.
Sometimes dorms have common areas where students can gather (there may even be a large TV for group viewings of The Bachelorette or the Super Bowl). Spending some of your down time there, even if you’re just studying, will give you an opportunity to meet people who you otherwise may not run into, even if you live in the same building. People might gather to watch movies together or play video games in the evenings. Your RA might host floor meetings and events. If there’s a communal kitchen, spend some time cooking and eating there and you’re bound to run into others. (Remember, brownies are the way to everyone’s heart!)
Go to campus events.
Whether it’s a sporting event, theater show, or a speaker talking on campus, go! Not only is this one of the only times in your life where you have free or highly discounted access to this type of event, you’ll also be surrounded by dozens—if not hundreds—of other interested students. You may not love every event you attend, but the more things you try, the more you’ll be able to narrow your focus and go to events that will surround you with similar students. You have to start somewhere!
Eat meals or go to events with people from your floor or classes.
When you do meet someone new from your dorm or in one of your classes, ask if they want to meet up in the dining hall, grab a coffee, or go to an event later. Everyone is starting off fresh, so chances are they’ll agree. They may even bring other people they know, meaning you’ll meet even more potential friends.
Get a part-time job.
Whether you were awarded a work-study position or find a job near campus, you’ll make a bit of extra money and meet new people. Once you’ve spent enough time together scooping ice cream on a hot fall evening, folding and stocking clothes, or dashing around campus to replace printer cartridges, you’ll absolutely forge a bond with your coworkers!
Join a fraternity or sorority.
Although Greek life isn’t for everyone, if it’s something you’re interested in, you’ll definitely make friends of all ages by rushing. Even if you ultimately decide not to join a fraternity or sorority, the friends you make during the process may stay your friends afterward, especially if they also decide not to join. If you do decide to join, your friends from your chapter will be your friends for life, and you’ll have bigs and littles who will be especially close to you while you’re in college.
Remember that everyone is pretty much in the same boat at the beginning of college: meeting new people, making new friends, and figuring out where they belong. Don’t hesitate to put yourself out there and try new things! However, you shouldn’t get discouraged if some things don’t work out, some initial friends drift away, or you don’t like every group or event you try. Don’t feel like you have to stick with anything (or anybody) that isn’t a good fit. You will find true friends and enjoyable activities as long as you put yourself out there in the beginning. Have fun!
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