College is an opportunity to broaden your social circle and meet new people. Unlike the people you knew in high school, college students come from all over the country or globe and bring with them fresh new perspectives that can broaden your own. It’s a truly unique opportunity to meet and make new friends, especially since everyone is trying their best to do the same.
Attend Orientation and Welcome Events
Most colleges host different events for students to meet and connect with one another. Everyone who attends one is trying to socialize with new people. Take advantage of the environment and talk to different people, strike up conversations, and be as friendly as possible.
If this sounds daunting, don’t worry. While going outside of your comfort zone is beneficial in the long run, you can start smaller by going to club meetings for new students. These meetups tend to have fewer participants than a general mixer. Not to mention, by attending one, you know that you have something in common with everyone else.
Be an Active Student
Participate during class, contribute during group projects, and organize study sessions with your peers. Not only does this boost your academic performance, but it ingratiates you to the other students and establishes that you’re pleasant to work with and spend time around.
College is a great time to form connections with other people that last beyond the classroom. When people reflect on their college years and highlight the importance of networking, they’re referring to these early connections. Although it may seem minor, presenting yourself well to your peers is an excellent first step.
Go to Campus Events
Once the academic year is in full swing, the welcome events and orientations taper off, but they’re quickly replaced by campus events where students go alone or in groups to sing, watch movies, eat together, and generally socialize.
No matter your interests, you’re practically guaranteed to find a campus event tailored to help you meet people who share them. You can look for updates on Facebook or walk around campus and keep an eye out for flyers advertising new events.
Join Social Media
Colleges often run a private group on Facebook or other social media platforms for incoming freshmen. Campus organizations, clubs, and other groups may rely on social media to organize, notify members of new events, and arrange informal hangouts.
However, with social media, there’s always the risk of being catfished. If you’re not sure you’ve connected with a real person, you can use their name to do a quick search of their public information by using a tool like this. People search engines also pull information from social media profiles, letting you see whether you’re talking to the right person or a catfish.
Be mindful of what you put on your social media profile. If you choose to be active online, make sure you only post pictures and videos that reflect well on you.
How to Make New Friends in College
Once you’ve met some people, you can start the transition process from acquaintance to friend. Part of friendship is consistency and repetition: if you see someone frequently and share an activity or class with them, chances are you’ll evolve naturally into friends.
If you want to speed up the process, ask if they’d like to spend time one-on-one. More extroverted people might be able to cultivate multiple friendships at once, but if you have more introverted tendencies, you may prefer to focus on just one or two people at a time to avoid getting too drained.
Part of meeting and making new friends in college is having good social skills. If you haven’t already, this is an opportunity to develop and practice active listening skills. The ability to be a good listener is paramount for helping your friends feel heard and supported, which in turn strengthens your relationships.
Don’t Be Afraid to Branch Out
It’s easy to find a group and fall in with them in the first few weeks of college–after all, everyone is doing the same thing. But as you settle into your new dorm and get used to the routine, don’t limit yourself to the people living in your hall or attending the same classes. Walk around, strike up conversations with strangers, and keep an open mind.
Be intentional about who you spend time with. You can’t choose relatives or coworkers, but you have control over who your friends are. Find people who energize and support you. Be authentic and vulnerable, and you’ll find that people match your energy in return.