I’m just going to be really blunt:
Making friends in college takes a lot more effort than it did in high school.
At least that’s what I think from my own experiences and from the people I’ve asked.
In high school you see the same kids for five days in a row every week. You share the same exact schedule for seven hours of the day, five days a week, with about 2000 or less students. This makes it normal to know almost everyone by name, or at least by face.
In college your classes aren’t the same every day (if they are then your college has some freaky class schedules man). You most likely have Tuesday/Thursday and Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes, so you’re either seeing the same people only two or three times a week – not five.
Plus, class sizes are usually much larger in college. Instead of 20-30ish kids in a class, you’ll have about 50-300ish. That means it’s a possibility you’ll share a class with someone and not even know about it if your classes are in huge lecture halls! Luckily, my school doesn’t really have any of those kinds of classes.
So if you see people less often, how are you going to become close to anyone? Don’t fret, it really isn’t that much more difficult than it is in college. I promise. But if you are worried about connecting with new people, then here is the advice I picked up on my freshman year.
Take advantage of orientation
That’s how I met my main friend group here at NKU. We were all in the same orientation group and really hit it off. Not right away though, it still took some effort. You just have to remember that every other new student is in the same boat as you: they want to make new friends! So give them a friend to make!
It’s no doubt they are going to make you play ice breakers, and some of them are going to be extremely silly and possibly way outside of your comfort zone, but those are the ones you need to participate in! The more absurd the game, the closer you feel to the people you played with afterwards.
No matter how crazy a game seems, don’t give into the urge to sit off to the side and just watch. I did this for some of my group’s games and really regret it, so please learn from my mistake.
Also, don’t act like you’re too good for the games or complain about them, because it’s not going to get you anywhere except on people’s “that kid is annoying” list. Not exactly where you want to be when you’re trying to make friends.
If your school hosts welcome week events alongside orientation, take advantage of those too!
Ask people from your orientation group to go with you or just ask if they plan on going and if you can tag along. It’s a great way to get closer to your group members, met new people and feel like a part of your school’s community. I got some of the girls from my group to go to a mixer with me and they ended up having a photobooth and we took this photo. I love looking back at this photo and thinking about how we may have barely even knew each other then, but we’re so close now.
This is a biggie. Not only does joining clubs and such introduce you to a wider range of people, but it also makes you feel closer to your college.
That doesn’t mean join everything your school offers though; however, I do recommend you try out a bunch of different things. You can also drop what you aren’t truly feeling.
Last year I was a part of a freshman leadership committee that focused on volunteer work and participating in on-campus events; I was an editor for the Honors’ journal; I played intramurals (be on the lookout for a more in depth post on this coming soon!); and I attended meetings for a violence prevention organization, but decided it wasn’t for me and dropped it.
Get a job on campus
Not only will that help you make some extra change and save gas money, but you’ll forge some great relationships as well.
I started working at an office on campus just before winter break, and by spring break look at all the new friends I had made! We even all went to an amusement park together just last Monday!
Making friends in the workplace is also a great life hack to making work less boring. Just saying.
Work with classmates on assignments
In my calc class last semester I got really close with two guys because we would all end up in tutoring at the same time every week. It was not planned at all. (I would say it was kind of freaky but that class was hard man.)
We were there together so often that eventually we were all working together and only asking the tutor for help when all three of us were stuck. That would have never happened if one of us hadn’t of had the guts to say, “Hey you’re in my class, do you know how to do this problem?”
Bonding over how hard a class is is a great way to make new friends!
If you need help in class don’t be scared to ask the person next to you. Maybe they’ll end up being your new class buddy! This goes both ways too; if someone asks you for help don’t blow them off. Help as much as you can, even if that’s just saying you don’t know the answer right now, but if you figure it out then you’ll let them know. It’s perfect because that gives you a reason to talk to them later!
Last thing about in class: don’t be that one group project member that everyone loathes working with. Be present when you’re supposed to be, do your work and be friendly. No one wants to be grouped with someone who’s rude.
Just be you!
This is my number one piece of advice, and my biggest secret to making as great of friends as I did last year. I can be really crazy and weird sometimes (okay everyday), and not hiding that part of me allowed me to get real close, real fast with these ladies right here.
We’re always forgetting that we’ve only been friends for a year! That’s because we showed our true selves in the beginning, so we skipped the whole “figuring out the real you” step. Because of that we were able to get closer a lot faster, and feel like we’ve known each other for years, not just one.
Don’t hold back your true personality. Putting it all out there allows people to see the real you, and everyone will always be drawn to authenticity over falsehood.
Pretending to be someone other than your true self is hard, and college is already hard enough, so just be you.
If you think no one is going to like the real you then not only are you lying to yourself, but you’re holding yourself back. You attract what you put out, and if you’re pretending to be someone else then you’re going to attract friends like the person you’re pretending to be. I doubt those friendship will go much beyond the surface or last very long, so don’t put up a front.
Another thing: release your inner goofball
People love that. College is stressful, so everyone is always looking for a good laugh to help them unwind. Plus, think about all the hilarious people you’ve ever seen and immediately wanted to be friends with! If you let loose and show your funny side then other people may be thinking the same thing about you!
I’m so grateful for all the friends I made my freshman year, and I’m excited to make even more this coming school year. The more the merrier right?
Here’s to new friendships and stay true to ourselves.