At the end of summer, hordes of new freshmen will enter college campuses for the first time. It is a time of new experiences — new dorms, new classes and new friends.
“People are definitely more open to making friendships at the beginning of freshman year,” said George Wojick, a sophomore from Washington D.C. This initial eagerness wears off once people get more settled in their friend groups, so there is a bit of a rush to make friends at the start of the college experience.
“But it’s not as though you loose that window of opportunity later,” Wojick added. “You don’t need to find everyone you’ll ever hang out with in college.”
With that in mind, here are 10 simple tips to make friends at college:
1. Be yourself.
No matter which college you go to, there will be people who share your interests and personality. It is important that you let your personality shine through so that your friends will be drawn to who you are as a person.
“I wouldn’t really want to be friends with people who I couldn’t be myself around,” said Tufts University sophomore Minna Jacobson. She added that it is difficult to relate to people with a façade.
2. Use the dorm to your advantage.
Dorms are filled with other college freshmen going through similar experiences, eager to make friends. Many dorms have common rooms, where events are organized simply to help freshmen meet other freshmen.
Stephen Boyhont, a junior at Elizabethtown College, said he appreciates that dormmates can bond over shared feelings.
“If you’re missing home, you can talk about that, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s someone else in the building who feels the same way as you.”
3. Be interesting.
In order to stick out in the crowd, it helps to have something unique — be it a personality trait or a hobby. Whether it’s your propensity for strategy games or affinity for Rocky Horror Picture Show reenactments, talking about those unique traits will ensure that people remember who you are.
4. Do extracurriculars.
If there is a club based on something you like, join it! Doing something you love with others creates a special bond and something to talk about.
5. Try to know a little about everything.
It is impossible to predict what people you’ll meet or what conversations you’ll have. Knowing about the things people talk about can prepare you for any introduction. For instance, you may not know the MVP of the Philadelphia Eagles, but it may help to know what football is.
6. Find common ground.
Similar experiences, shared hobbies and other mutual interests can bring people together and make conversations much more interesting.
“That definitely gives you something to talk about with people,” Wojick said, adding that they certainly don’t need to be a clone of you.
7. Eat meals with people.
Throughout history — from gatherings of agricultural communities to the Tomatina in Spain — people have bonded over food.
College is no different; a meal is a great way to get closer to a new friend or chat with an old one.
“Just as family should sit down and eat at the dinner table once in a while, friends should, too,” Boyhont recommended.
8. Ask the usual questions.
It may seem contrived, but it’s a good idea to have some basic small-talk questions ready for use at all times.
Examples include, but are not limited to: “Where are you from?” “Did you do pre-orientation?” “What classes are you taking?”
9. Invite people to do normally solitary activities.
Perhaps you work out or meditate every day. Well, why not invite a friend to share in the fun?
“Running was usually my alone time, but people got to know me as ‘that girl who went running,’” Jacobson said. “So I would run with others who wanted to as well.”
10. Be nice.
While fawning or being a people pleaser may be a step too far, it is important to care about your friends.
They will notice your attitude, and will be more likely to mirror it back toward you.
“I wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who wasn’t nice, no matter how funny they are,” Jacobson said. “If they don’t care about people then I don’t really want to interact with them.”
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