Photo by Gracinistudios via Pixabay.
It’s super important, as the semester begins to set in, to build a strong support system. You’re going to need people to lean on when everything about college becomes overbearing—and maybe you’re still trying to prove your independence, so you don’t want to call your mom or dad. When you’re coming from high school, maybe you’ve had the same best friend since first grade and you went to different colleges. You haven’t had the need to make a new friend since. With the age of technology upon us, you feel super anxious about making the move to talk to people.
1. Bond with your roommate.
College has blessed you with an automatic friend. You live together and you eat together. You see each other in the earliest of mornings and latest of nights. It’s important to be careful with this one because not every roommate situation is going to be ideal. Maybe your major is the only thing you have in common. At least you can talk about classes! Either way, you can go out into your dorm lobby with your roommate and socialize. Either you make friends and split from social paths individually or you make friends that turn into a core group that you carry with you through all of college. It’s easier to do anything when you have a little help.
2. Let your interests find your friends for you.
The involvement fair has just passed. Go out to one of the meetings for one of the thousand clubs you signed up for. Make sure the club is focused on a topic you’re super passionate about. I guarantee you will make friends there if you keep going—but returning is the key. You can’t make friends in a club if you don’t show. Many of the people will be just as passionate as you. During my freshman year, I was very intimidated after my first meeting at Creative Writing Club. Now, I’m president! It’s natural to feel out of place, but as your face becomes a familiar face, the other members will interact with you even if you are a little on the shy side.
You will find people to surround yourself with that appreciate you for who you are and treat you the way you deserve to be treated.
3. Look to your classes.
Since you are at school after all, ask the person you’re sitting with in class pretty regularly for their number in case you want to reach out and study when the first test rolls around. It is likely that if this particular student is in one of your major classes, you have the same career goals and ideals in mind, so you’ll have a lot in common and a lot to talk about.
4. Turn to technology.
If you must, use your phones for their intended purpose: connection. There are so many groups that are created from accepted students pages. Add a few of those people on Facebook. Reach out. See if you get along. If not, let the conversation die off and reach out to someone else.
5. Be a friendly face.
I don’t know how many times fellow students have come up to me and asked me questions or struck up a conversation simply for smiling. You know how sometimes you make eye contact with a stranger for a split second and it’s a little bit awkward? Smile. Seriously. Our generation is known for being rude and leaning on technology for every situation. Break that stereotype. Put away your phone and take in your experiences at West Chester University. Before you know it, it’ll be your senior year and you’ll be so caught up in internships and senior seminars that you won’t remember what the Lawrence Dining Hall even looked like.
6. Be comfortable.
If you’re invited out to a party with some other friends on your floor that you’re not particularly comfortable going out to, then don’t go. The kind of friends you want to be around will understand your decision to stay in. You should never compromise boundaries for a friend, and they shouldn’t want you to do that. Don’t be afraid of missing out. If you didn’t want to go out in the first place, you won’t have a good time forcing yourself to go out. Find something else to do that night. Going to the gym is usually a healthy choice or even calling it an early night and catching up on sleep. Take care of yourself that night.
7. Be you.
This is the cheesy mom answer, but if you’re not going to be honest with your friend or yourself, you’re not going to be happy. Don’t pretend to be into video games if you’re not actually into video games. You will find people to surround yourself with that appreciate you for who you are and treat you the way you deserve to be treated. Support systems are crucial to have in college. Create one of your own.
Kirsten Magas is a fourth-year student majoring in English with minors in journalism and creative writing. KM867219@wcupa.edu