Welcome to Excel Test Prep’s Summer College Series!!!
Written by Sonia Mahajan; Edited by Mariah Embry
One of the most daunting things about going to college—especially if you’re going to school across the country—can be the prospect of making new friends. Luckily, making friends in college is actually quite fun and easy, and many people who meet in college become lifelong pals. Here are some tips for those of you who may still be a little apprehensive about making friends in college.
Utilize the class Facebook group
Most colleges will create a class Facebook group or something similar for their incoming classes. People will make short posts about their interests and where they’re from for the whole class to see. Comment on their posts, send them a friend request, or maybe even write a post yourself! You might just end up becoming friends with some of them. These groups are also good places to find potential roommates or workout buddies. (If you don’t have a Facebook account, I’d highly recommend getting one before heading off to college. Lots of schools use these class pages to make important announcements, buy and sell used textbooks, and promote cool events happening on campus.)
Find mutual friends
The world’s a small place, so there’s a good chance that there’s a friend of a friend who will be attending the same school as you. Meet up with them the summer before fall semester/quarter starts, or just get their number and text them! It’s always nice to have at least one familiar face waiting for you when you arrive on campus.
Attend freshman summer orientation or pre-freshman year summer events
Some colleges will have a two-to-three-day orientation the summer before freshman year. Even if this program is optional, attending orientation is a great way to get to know some of the people you’ll be going to school with and to explore the campus for the first time. Other schools will have mandatory orientation the week before freshman year starts, which is also a good way to get to know the people on your floor and in your year. A lot of times, colleges will put on pre-freshman year summer events in major cities across the country. These events are typically put on by the alumni association of your college and will take place in a hotel or an alum’s house. These receptions are great ways to get to know other first-years from your area and talk to alumni.
Participate in a pre-orientation program
Many schools offer pre-orientation programs that take place the week before orientation. These programs are organized around a shared interest that will facilitate bonding between participants. Examples include Harvard’s famed Fall Clean-Up, in which students clean up the dorms and campus, the Columbia Urban Experience, in which students volunteer and learn about social justice, and Georgetown’s Outdoor Pre-Orientation Program, in which students go on an outdoor adventure with a group of their future classmates.
Hang out in your floor lounge
People who live on the same floor often become good friends, so if you have a shared floor lounge, spend some time hanging out there! This important social space provides first-years the opportunity to meet really cool peers and provides a relaxed setting for creating lifelong friends.
Get to know your roommate
If you have a roommate, get to know them! If they live close by, try to meet up with them over the summer. Quite a few people end up becoming good pals with their roomie and/or their roomie’s friends. Most people also eat meals and explore the campus with their roommate during the first few weeks of school. If you don’t have a roommate (or don’t like your them), don’t worry! There are still plenty of other ways to make friends.
Join clubs and activities
It’s easy to find people who you might have a lot in common with at organizations dedicated to a certain interest of yours. There are usually hundreds of clubs on college campuses, so join a few in the first few weeks of school. Even if you don’t end up staying in all of them, clubs make it easy to meet people and get some social interaction when you don’t know that many people. Additionally, consider joining a fraternity or sorority. While Greek life certainly isn’t for everyone, a fraternity or sorority offers a group of people who want to get to know you and support you on campus.
Grab dinner in the dining hall
It’s tempting to heat up a box Cup-a-Noodles, cuddled up in you PJs while vegging out to Netflix, especially if you’re an introvert. However, eating in the dining hall with peers is a great way to strengthen relationships. Even if you can’t find anyone to eat with, don’t be afraid to go to the dining hall by yourself. More likely than not, you’ll bump into a peer and get to know them better.
Talk to people in your classes and form study groups
Take classes that you’re interested in and talk to those people around you. Chances are, they’ll share some of the same interests as you do. Conversely, if you’re in a class you really dislike, try to bond with others who feel the same way. Seminar classes or discussion sections are also a great way to get to know people. Unlike lecture halls where you might miss someone you want to talk to, seminars and discussions allow you to get to know the people in your class better and on a more personal basis. If you find someone you really connect with in one of your classes, ask them to grab a meal together or take a trip off-campus. Forming study groups is also a great way to connect with your classmates outside of class and get to know them in a more informal setting.
Make a schedule of when you’ll meet your friends
Unlike in high school, everyone in college has a different schedule, so it can be hard to meet up with cool people you met during orientation who you don’t see regularly on your floor or in your classes. Making a schedule of when to meet up with friends (ex. planning to have dinner every week on Tuesdays and Thursdays) is easier than trying to figure out a different time to meet each week.
Make an effort to talk to people
Did you meet someone during orientation or through the Facebook group that you’d really like to get to know better but can’t seem to find around campus? Don’t be afraid to ask them to grab a meal together or hang out. Chances are, they think you’re pretty cool too and will say yes. It can be hard to remember, but everyone is just as nervous as you are. Also, there’s no set time limit on when you can make friends in college! If it’s November, December, second semester, or second year, don’t be afraid to get to know new people.
Remember these relationships will last you a lifetime. There’s no set way to make friends in college, and everyone is looking for friends the first few weeks of school! Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and remember: you can always call, text or FaceTime your friends from high school whenever you feel like it. Just don’t forget that there are incredible people who will become great friends of yours out there in college too!