Heading off to college can be an intimidating (and exciting!) adventure. Maybe you’re living on your own for the first time in a new city, away from your parents, and learning how to juggle academic work and way too many fun social opportunities—not to mention that growing pile of laundry in your room. Even if school is in the same town where you grew up, starting a new chapter like college is a great time to make new friends. Plus, in my humble opinion, college besties are in a league of their own. They’re your lifelong crew. Nothing bonds you quite like spending 24/7 together, studying and hanging out and never ever getting enough sleep.
But, yeah, of course, making new friends can be nerve-wracking and even a bit awkward, especially if you’re not outgoing by nature. Which is why I tapped two experts for some advice: David Vogelsang, New York University’s Executive Director at the Center for Student Life, and Karen Hedges, University of California Los Angeles’ Deputy Director for Campus Life. So whether you’ll be physically on campus in the fall or living that virtual classes lifestyle, here are 10 expert-approved tips for making new friends at college.
Turns out the advice that your parents have been giving you since you were a kid still holds true. Don’t worry about trying to fit in. Just be your friendly self and be open about your interests and experiences and you’ll attract compatible besties.
Go Outside Your Comfort Zone
NGL, consciously seeking out new friends can feel a little awkward at first. Just remind yourself that everyone else is probably just as nervous as you are, so if you can muster up the courage to get a convo going, they’ll most likely be super grateful and friendly in return.
Take Advantage of the First Few Weeks
The first few weeks of college are major for meeting new people. There’s a bazillion orientation events and you’re starting all your new classes, so there’s BFF potential ev-er-y-where. However, speaking from personal experience, the people you click with those first couple of weeks might not be your friends forever, and that’s completely okay. You might not find your people until you’re more in the swing of things.
Form an Online Study Group
If you’re not physically at school this fall (which might end up being a lot of you!), one relatively easy way you can still make connections from a distance is by setting up a study group that meets virtually. Reach out to people in your favorite class or the course that is stressing you out the most. Sure, you guys won’t be sitting from each other in the library, but you can still bond over your monstrous exams via Zoom.
Join a Campus Club
The easiest way to find people with the same interests as you is to join a club or an on-campus organization. Into writing? Try the school newspaper. Love helping others? Find a great charity group to join. Whatever you’re passionate about, there’s probably already a club for it. And if a club doesn’t exist yet, you can always start one yourself!
Join an Online Trivia Night
Because the fall 2020 semester will most likely look and feel a bit different than, er, “usual,” many colleges are preparing to host online events, such as digital trivia nights. It’s definitely a bummer that you won’t be able to meet your future BFFs in person right away, but making time for the virtual events that your school is hosting means that once you do get on campus, you’ll already have pals to hang out with right away.
Use Your Social Media
If there’s one thing our generation does better than anyone else, it’s social media—and yes, you can totally use that to your advantage this semester. Share your Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, LinkedIn, or whatever you prefer with your new classmates. Connecting with your peers on social will let you get a better sense of who they are outside of the classroom.
Hit Up On-Campus Events
If you’ll be (safely!) heading to school this fall, you’ll definitely want to stop by all of the on-campus events so that you can get some (masked!) face time in with other students. If you find a couple people you vibe with, you can all make plans to go to the next school event together.
Get to Know Your Floor-mates
Living in a dorm is basically like having a built-in group of people to meet, so get to mingling as soon as you can. Seriously, go ahead and knock on your neighbor’s door and ask them if they want to grab dinner with you at the dining hall. Personal story time: Freshman year, my floor-mates did this to me and I’m so glad they did because we’re still good friends many years later. Awww.
Get an On-Campus Job
This here is a total win-win because not only will you meet other students doing the same work as you, but you’ll also be pocketing some cash, which—given how expensive college is these days—won’t hurt.
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