Graduating from high school and moving away to college means you’re leaving home, but your childhood bedroom isn’t the only thing you’re leaving behind. In many cases, it also means that you’re saying goodbye to your friends and the high school you.
College is a fresh start. Perhaps you’ve been waiting for this for a while–you’re ready to meet new people and redefine yourself. You’re ready to not be a “mean girl” anymore and excited to let your inner nerd shine bright. Or maybe you’re counting down the days to being on campus where you can come out and be accepted for who you are. Either way, you can choose your own identity–change if you’d like, or stay the same, it’s completely up to you.
As you continue to change and evolve, so will your friend group. The cool thing about being a college freshman is that everyone else is in the same boat. You’re all new to campus, you’re all looking for friends and sharing similar experiences. So as you’re preparing to find your niche on campus, keep the following 7 locations and activities in mind.
1. Go to Orientation
Whether you’re attending a large university with several orientation groups throughout the summer, or a smaller college with an orientation week before classes begin, go and make the most of it. You won’t just be learning the rules of the school and registering for classes–there are usually games and social events planned too. Orientation is usually the first experience that freshman have together as a group, and everyone is looking for a friendly face to hang out with.
You’d be surprised how many people meet at orientation and remain friends throughout their 4 years. It might sound a bit cheesy, but that initial culture shock can create pretty strong bonds.
2. Living Learning Communities (LLCs)
If you’re worried about finding people that have similar interests to you to hang out with, maybe a LLC is the place for you. In a LLC you’re literally guaranteed to have at least one thing in common with the rest of your floor or house. LLCs usually have someone that plans social and volunteer/community events as well.
3. First-Year Seminars/Courses in Common
Some colleges and universities require students to enroll in a first-year seminar. These are usually a writing intensive course and may count towards a rhetoric requirement.
At Coe College, FYS classes are part of each freshman’s schedule during the fall semester. There are a variety of classes to choose from within each department. So, if you know you want to major in psychology, you can register for a FYS class taught by a psych professor. The neat thing about FYS classes at Coe is that you’re with the same people that were in your orientation group and the class meets right before lunch–so you have someone to eat lunch with from day one.
Courses in Common (or a similar program by a different name) are another option that some schools offer. These are usually a group of gen ed classes that you register for. Each class is comprised of the same group of students. So you might have General Chemistry, Intro. to Psychology, and Rhetoric with the same group of students. This gives you the chance to get to know 20-25 people on campus really well.
4. Join a Club
If you’re looking for a ready-made friend group on campus, the most logical thing to do is join a club. After being in class all day and working on homework during downtime, you’re going to need something fun to do! Whether it’s greek life, intramurals, student government, or one of the other hundreds of student groups on campus, pick a few and get involved. Again, clubs are a great way to meet people on campus with similar interests as you, so don’t be afraid to try something new!
5. Attend Fitness Classes
Avoid the freshman 15 by meeting people at the gym. Check your campus’s rec center’s schedule and see what fitness classes are offered. Or, find a place in the community that has yoga, pilates, zumba, crossfit, etc. classes. If you choose to attend classes off campus, see if you can use your student ID for a student discount. Fitness classes are a fun way to meet people because you’re up and moving, but you’re also all working towards the same goal–staying healthy.
6. Join Study Groups to Make Friends
You go to college to learn, but you’re also there to meet people. Why not to both at the same time? Find a study group on campus that meets regularly. Worst case scenario, you get a little extra study time in with a few interesting classmates. Or, if you’re confident in your knowledge of the material, go to help others. Study groups may not seem like it when you’re a first-year college student, but they’re great ways to build your network for later on in your career. You never know when you might need help from that kid who sat two rows up in Calculus freshman year–he might help you get a job someday.
7. Participate in Floor Events
My number one piece of advice for meeting people at college is to leave your door open. If it’s weighted, invest in a rock. This is especially important when you’re moving in and the first few weeks on campus. Go introduce yourself to the other people on your floor right away.
As the semester progresses, your resident assistant (RA) should have activities planned for your floor. I strongly encourage you to participate in these events. It might be something as simple as going to the dining hall together for dinner, but make an effort to get to know your floormates. If you stay in your dorm, you’re going to be living around them for the rest of the year.
As a first generation college student, who had no idea what to expect when moving in to the dorms, I understand being nervous about meeting people and finding new friends on campus. I struggled for a bit before I figured it out, too. But don’t worry, keep trying new things–eventually you’ll find your niche and campus will really start to feel like home. Make sure you enjoy your 4 years and make the most of them, because they really will be some of the best memories you have even if you have a rocky start.
If you have other tips for making friends on campus, leave them in the comments section below!