Make Friends in College With These 7 Easy Steps
It is not necessarily difficult to make friends in college, but you should be prepared to operate under a new set of rules. The friends you have in college are (hopefully) the ones who will last you the rest of your life.
They differ greatly from most of your high school chums, and they should. In the following article, we’ll be giving you some helpful tips to make the most out of the friendships you choose. However, we should precursor our advice by talking a little bit more about what you want out of a college friend.
How College Friends Should Differ
Making friends in high school isn’t as easy as it is in college because you and your friends are all sort of searching for an identity. Bullying is more prevalent in high school as students try to find their place on the food chain and not attract the wrong kind of attention.
College differs greatly because you have more choices. You’re starting over in a place with more possibilities and more friends to choose from. If you’re going to have a friend for the rest of your life, the odds are in your favor that you’ll find them here. Here are some of the criteria you should set for choosing your friends.
In high school, you don’t typically have as much diversity or opportunities to find your voice. That’s because standards are either too high or too low. You find yourself rushing to keep up with what you’re supposed to learn or “dumbing” yourself down to pass muster without realizing your full potential.
College gives you a chance to explore new interests outside of the watchful and sometimes rigid eyes of your parents and teachers. Use this time to look for people who are cut out of the same cloth as you instead of those who are merely “available” for a friendship.
College has more clubs and extracurricular activities to choose from, and these can be great ways of making new friends. You’ll stand a much better chance if you pick things that are in your wheelhouse, whether that means athletics, artistic, or scientific.
The first thing you should do after deciding where you want to go to college is get a sense of the organizations and clubs on campus and what they offer. This will give you a head-start and an effective game plan for making the right types of friends.
Setting and reaching goals are very attractive qualities that will draw others to you. People will want to be your friend if they see that you are a leader who gets things done. Careful not to lower your standards, though. You don’t want to be worshiped. You want people who will help you accomplish more and become the best version of yourself.
Likewise, you can do that for them. Make sure you’re picking people with goals so you don’t get stuck in a rut or dragged down harmful paths that keep you from achieving.
Be Open to Adventure and Independence
It’s very tough to make good friends in college if you’re constantly going home to see your parents each weekend. Try to remember that your life in college is Forward and your life back home is Backward. You always want to be moving Forward.
The best way to not get locked into the cycle of constantly going home is to always be open to adventure and fun. Check first with your group to see if there are any fun activities planned for the weekend. If you have a free weeknight, see what’s going on there as well. If nothing’s brewing, maybe you can be the person who steps up and rallies a group to go hang out somewhere new and exciting. The more packed your schedule is with fun and adventure, the better position you’ll be in to make more friends.
Now that you know what college friends are supposed to “look like” and how you can find potential candidates, let’s look at the tips themselves. We may have already touched on some of these, but these can never be impressed upon one too much.
1. Get Involved With Extracurricular Activities
Not all colleges will have the extracurricular activities that you are hoping for. And yes, life beyond the classroom is very important. Before you pick a school, evaluate what types of extracurricular activities are out there. Be realistic, and don’t pick something that will be a waste of time.
Ideally, you want to find a balance between what you’re good at and what you’re interested in. It’s certainly okay to push yourself. Just don’t pick something that is so obviously not you unless you have a legitimate passion for learning it.
2. Mine Your Majors
What are you majoring in? Double majors? Triple majors? A major and a minor? Take all of the classes in which you have a solid interest. Then, look for people in those classes with whom you really connect.
You already have the shared experience of your interests. See if you can build a personal relationship or friendship around that. Schedule study time together before casually moving into other hangouts.
3. Rush a Fraternity or Sorority
Fraternities and sororities can certainly be worthy of some of the bad reputations they’ve received in the news, but that doesn’t mean you should count them out altogether. There are plenty of great organizations that you can rush that have their collective hearts in the right place.
Greek Life brings people of many differences together under one common umbrella. It can be a truly edifying experience that introduces you to friends you would have never fathomed having before. And these can be great friendships that pay long-term dividends personally and professionally.
4. Volunteer for a Cause
There are numerous ways to get involved both on and off campus. Look for nonprofit organizations in your area to see what they have going. You don’t have to commit to every little thing. Just attend some of their events, see whom they are helping, how they are doing it, etc.
You can meet many great people — both peers and non-peers — through these activities. Even though you do them for no money, they can also help you professionally by building and growing a network that could prove useful in the future.
5. Give Faith Organizations a Try
No, we’re not endorsing any one particular faith here. We’re also not refusing to acknowledge where some of these bodies can fall short and seem hypocritical. But chances are, you can find many great friends through a faith-based organization, and those friends can help you establish a faith of your own, whatever that may be.
You will likely come to college with some ideas about faith. Maybe you established them on your own. Maybe you did it through your parents. This is a time to figure out what you believe, and the only way to do that effectively is to be exposed to other ideas.
Just remember that other people your same age are looking for the same things. Finding these people on your journey can create great opportunities for bonding and help sharpen your view of life (and the afterlife).
6. Know All the Off-Campus Hangouts
Off-campus hangouts are equally important to the on-campus ones. We’re thinking specifically about coffee shops, comic book stores, rock-climbing facilities, skate parks, and anything else you can think of where peers might be hanging out. Chances are, there will be groups that regularly hit up these places (perhaps more so once COVID is over).
Go there and introduce yourself to someone. If you feel too introverted to do that, bring some work with you and look up and occasionally make eye contact with people. If the eye contact holds for more than two seconds, try smiling at them or saying hi. It’s simple but effective.
7. Look for Meetup Groups
The Internet has made it so easy to check where people with similar interests might be getting together. Joining these groups could help you stay in shape, expand your mind, or find the next great BBQ place. It also can help you make your next best friend.
Admittedly, this is much easier to do when you go to college in a bigger city. You still might be able to find specialty interests in your region, though, so give it the old college try, so to speak.
It Is Not Difficult to Make Friends in College
Making friends is not difficult in college, but you want to do it with the right kind of people. By following the steps listed above and always being on the lookout for new experiences, you will make friends in college that last well beyond your graduation date. Now it’s your turn! What are some of the tactics you’ve used to broaden your network and find deeper, more meaningful connections?
[Featured Image by Flickr Creative Commons]