Some people decide to attend a popular college where many of their high school friends also plan to go. Others opt to venture out on their own, and move away to a school where they don’t know a single person. Either way, making new friends is a big part of the college experience. But it can also provoke a lot of anxiety. Follow these tips to get your social life off to a great start, and you’ll be making great memories in no time.
Make an effort to remember names. Remembering someone’s name is the easiest way to tell them you value them.
Try approaching new people at lunch time. Someone sitting alone, absorbed in a book or their studies, might rather be left alone. Look around for individuals or small groups who seem open to being a approached. Ask to sit with them and introduce yourself. This becomes less awkward as you practice!
Adjust your body language. So much of our communication is nonverbal, but we don’t always think about it. Crossing your arms or legs, or looking down and away from people, sends a vibe that you don’t want to be approached. In particular, looking down at your phone says, “don’t talk to me”. Work on looking open and interested in connection.
Ask questions. Everyone likes to be asked questions about themselves. Luckily, freshman life offers plenty of opportunity to get to know others this way. Ask which dorm they live in, which English professor they were assigned, which activities and clubs they’ve signed up for, and so on.
Listen actively. Sometimes we have a tendency to focus on asking the right questions, but then forget the answers as we’re thinking of our next reply. Slow down and listen actively; this is how you really bond.
Try new things. College is all about trying new things and developing yourself as a well-rounded person. Pay attention to those flyers that are posted all over dorm hallways, elevators, and bulletin boards. Attend some of the advertised activities, and join a new group or two. This will give you instant conversation material to enjoy with other participants.
And finally… remember that you’re not alone. It can be easy to feel lonely during your freshman year, even when surrounded by thousands of new people. But remember that everyone else is likely feeling the same way. If nothing else, walk up to a new person, laugh about the awkwardness, and put it right out there. “It feels weird being in a new place where you don’t know anyone, huh? Wanna eat lunch together?” Most people will appreciate the sincerity and go for it!