Lately, it probably feels like you’ve spent your whole life getting ready for college. But now that it’s finally here, you realize there’s one thing school didn’t teach you — how to make friends when you’ve left all yours behind!
Whether we were social butterflies and prom king and queen or the wallflowers of the school, we all have the same worries.
Will we fit in at our new school? Will we find a friend that “clicks” with us the way our other friends did?
It’s a typical human nature concern. You’re on your own for the first time, and this new situation would be more comfortable if you had a friend or two with you.
The act of making friends doesn’t have a mathematical formula you can follow. It’s an art, and like any artwork, some people will like your format, and some won’t.
But there are some aesthetics of the “making new friends” art that are universal.
Follow these tips as you enter college, and you’ll naturally find yourself with those who enjoy your true self!
1. Learn About Human Nature First
Part of the reason why going to new places, like college, is so intimidating is that we don’t know enough about other people. When you assume what someone else is thinking, it can get pretty overwhelming.
The study of psychology and human behavior teaches us that there are little tells in our actions that give away our feelings. It also shows us that most of us are more similar than we would have thought.
Did you know:
- If you’re starting to feel lonely, you might be cold. Turn up the heat, put on a sweater, or find a way to warm up!
- You are more likely to be turned down over an email or something impersonal than in person. If you want that “yes,” show up and ask the question face-to-face.
- If someone is lying to you, they’re probably using simple sentences. This helps them to remember the full lie in the future.
- People who have low self-esteem are usually those who try to embarrass others. When you meet people like this, they often appear confident and arrogant, but it’s an act.
Taking the time to learn why people think and act the way they do is a skill that will help you in new situations for the rest of your life. And it’s exciting when you get into it!
2. Figure Out Who You Are, and Be That Person
Going off to a new place is the perfect time for you to design a new you if you want to. No one knows your past and judges you for it or holds expectations of you.
But you need to know who you are on your deepest level.
Who do you want to be?
Be that person and show those actions, and you’ll attract others who are like you.
Trying to fake a personality that isn’t you on a soul-deep level will exhaust you. When you feel like you’re always putting on a show for people to like you, it becomes stressful.
Use the time before you start college to decide who you truly are and who you want to surround yourself with. Practice being that person regularly so that it’s a natural habit by the time you take your first class.
If you want to make friends with people who have similar personalities, you need first to know what your interests are. Remember, how you act will determine who wants to be near you.
3. Set Your Intentions and Make a Plan
You have a goal: to make friends when you’re a freshman. Like any goal, to succeed, you need a plan.
Most people wish for friends but don’t actively seek them out. They wait for the right person to come to them. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.
But you are different. You have great intentions of making solid friends, not just acquaintances. And you have a plan.
This master plan requires that you first determine what kind of friends you want. Once you know the basic personality and interests of your future BFFs, figure out where they’d most likely be hanging out.
Then, it’s showtime. It’s up to you to make yourself known in these predetermined places.
Check your school and local area’s schedule of events for any that look like they’d interest your envisioned friends. Volunteer to help at those events and be open to conversations.
You won’t find people interested in having a deep conversation at a football pep rally, for instance. There’s too much noise for you to hear each other.
Know your intentions, make your goal and plan, and then act on them in a way that sets you up for success.
4. Know Your Limits and Stick to Them
College is a time for exploring, but it’s also a time when peer pressure takes on a whole new level.
It’s easy to fall prey to this pressure when you just want someone to accept you. But you are worthy of friends who appreciate you for the amazing person you are.
You may have to step slightly outside your comfort zone to find them, but you do not have to change your core self to be with the right friends.
And at your core, you know your moral and ethical code.
If you find yourself in a situation where your peers are pressuring you to do something you know is not right for you — walk away. If it’s this bad now, it will get worse, not better, later.
5. Explore New Adventures
Some things are outside of your comfort zone only because you’ve never experienced them before. Your first instinct may be to shy away from things that make you nervous.
Instead, get in the habit of saying, “I’ll think it over,” instead of the automatic “no.”
Then, find a quiet space away from any pressure. Go over the pros and cons of the invitation.
Will it be a new adventure that you could enjoy once you got past the awkwardness of it?
Or is it something that could lead to serious consequences that are a legitimate concern? Statistically speaking, what are the odds that you’ll be in real danger?
Tiny percentages of threats are valid for almost everything.
Are you willing to overlook the small potential for harm to have a new adventure? A story to tell later? Will you regret saying no?
Be willing to try new things if they’re morally acceptable before you shoot them down.
If you’ve always wondered what it was like to act on stage, sign up for that drama class. The worst that can happen is you don’t like it after you give it a try.
So many great things could come from it, though!
Making new friends in college is something everyone deals with. We’ve all left our old friends behind and worry we might not find someone else who puts up with our good moods and the bad ones equally.
But with these tips, and learning how to be your true, authentic self, you’ll attract the right people to you!
About the Author
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Grove at Ft. Collins to help them with their online marketing.