Many schools are already in their first week of classes, which means that many have already went through orientation and floor meetings. You may think that you’re past the meeting new people stage and some of you may not. Often in high school the friends you had were made long before high school, you grew up with them if you didn’t move. I moved right after middle school so I had to learn to put myself out there and meet people. I will admit that I was horrible at it, I tended to really only hang out with people in my classes or those in clubs that I spent a lot of my time at.
This is your chance to start over and be yourself or find yourself. Most of the lessons you will learn in college will be about yourself and who you are and you’re going to learn these lessons by growing with the people around you. Your classmates, floor buddies and roommates will all influence how you learn and grow as a person so it’s important to surround yourself with the people you want to influence and help you.
Throughout college you’ll make new friends and lose old ones and this is normal and okay. The friends you made in orientation may not end up being your friends in about a month and that’s alright, you don’t have to feel obligated to hold onto people. Stay friendly but don’t ever feel forced to hang out or spend time with people that you don’t want to. Time is precious in school and when you graduate you don’t want to look back and wish that you would have kindled a friendship with one person over the person you met in a class that every time you hung out you were watching the clock. It’s a waste of time for you and a waste to that person. On the other side of that don’t ever force yourself into a situation that you would rather not be in just because you want to be friends with someone. You are all more than aware of what you should and should not be doing, you are all adults so I don’t need to lecture. Do not waste your time though on someone who does not respect your comfort, if you don’t want to go out and a friend is really pushing you too, do not feel obligated to go just because you want to build that relationship. If they don’t care about your comfort now, then they won’t later, it’s a relationship that isn’t worth it and may be damaging. Remember you are here to improve yourself and grow as a person, not burn out because of long nights and drama.
So for those of you who are nervous about meeting new people or nervous to just strike up a conversation here are a few tips to make it a little easier.
In The Dorm
If you haven’t met all the people on your floor just yet, don’t be shy! Start knocking on doors. At my college we had an open door policy, for the first 2 weeks or month all the freshman were supposed to keep their dorm doors open when just hanging out or casually studying. The purpose of this is so you can get to know the community on your floor and to encourage others to stop by and meet each other. If your residential adviser (or equivalent) has not implemented this then suggest it to them, they will probably think its a great idea. When people do have their doors open and you don’t know them yet, stop by. Knock on their door and say something like “hey, my name is
Rachel , I haven’t met you yet, what’s your name/can you remind me of your name?” Then follow up with questions like majors, classes, schedule, clubs, hobbies etc. The great thing about this line is that it makes you sound like you’re trying to introduce yourself to everyone not just this one person so you don’t need to feel awkward; you’re just getting to know everyone! Also people love to talk about themselves, ask them anything about school or home and I’m sure they would be more than happy to share.
Another way to meet people in your dorm is to attend hall meetings and events. Your residential adviser creates events and programs for a purpose, to build the dorm community and to create a community that will be friendly and support one another. For this to happen, students need to attend the events. It’s also a great opportunity to meet some new faces that you may not of had the opportunity to yet. If you don’t know someone’s name check their door, ask them or even ask your ra discretely on the side.
If your ra doesn’t plan events or you can’t seem to attend, plan your own! Plan a movie or game night either in your room or in the lounge. Make a quick flyer or leave messages on the wipe off boards on peoples doors or use expo marker on bathroom mirrors to let everyone know. People will come and it’ll give you the opportunity to really get to know others because you are the host.
Depending on your typical class sizes this may or may not be helpful. I went to a small liberal arts school and I think the largest class size I had was about 30 students. (I was also an International Studies major so this impacted my class size, my fiance had a class with almost 200 people during the lecture for bio) Getting to know people in your classes is not only great for finding social friends but also because you need connections in the classroom to help you study or to grabs notes from if you were out. The easiest way to meet new people is to sit next to someone new in the first few weeks and talk to others near you. Another thing I would recommend is to ask others that sit near you if they would like to create a study group or a facebook group/google doc for the class you share together. You can then help each other with the assigned readings, compare notes and work together to achieve your academic goals. Make sure you’re the one who spear heads this or it may never get done.You could also go on blackboard to grab your class roster and invite everyone to a study group.
Outside Class and Free Time
When you aren’t in class or your dorm you can still meet people. Sign up for any and all clubs that you’re interested in and see where you fit best. Don’t be afraid to try something new or even a club sport despite a possible lack of experience in the sport. A friend of mine joined a knitting club just to see how “lame” it was and it turned out that she fell in love with knitting and made some of her best friends in this group that she thought would be boring. I made friends in different on campus advocacy groups and even met a few people on our club rugby team. Even if you go just to support a club and not so much “be a part of it” or take an active role, you’ll start building a relationship with the people there week after week. I would also really recommend going to campus events, any speakers and movie screenings. I clearly haven’t mentioned joining a sorority. I personally am in a sorority and it is one of the best decisions I have made but it’s very important to join for the right reasons, not just to be forced to make friends. You will find community and possibly meet your best friend but you need to really want to do it and it’s so much more than just a way to meet people.
Whatever you do on campus, just don’t be afraid to talk to someone. The worst possible thing that will happen is they will answer back or ignore you. If their reply is negative then that’s that, you don’t need negativity in your life and now you know not to waste time with that person. Best case scenario, you have a really great conversation with someone new and maybe you can kindle a relationship with this person. College is about taking chances and learning, do not be afraid to talk to someone because I can guarantee that a lot of people you may start a conversation with are just as nervous as you to meet someone new. Be brave and learn people’s stories, everyone has one, just ask.