When I started community college at Pierce, I had a hard time making friends. College was a completely new atmosphere for me. In high school, everyone had a clear “group” and those were the people you hung out with all the time. That’s not how it is in college! You actually have to try to have a social life. Go figure!
If you’re like me, you might find that a little daunting. But have no fear! Here’s what I did to find social success at college.
Join a Club
Joining a club is how I first started making friends. I went to an interest meeting for a writing club. I sat down and was blown away by how much people actually wanted me there. I assumed they were going to be cliquey and brush me off (high school flashbacks, anyone?) I actually ended up making my first college friends there.
It wasn’t actually a perfect start.
First quarter, I got the cold shoulder from some classmates I tried to befriend, so I was very hesitant to try again. Everyone always told me that clubs were one of the best places to meet people, but I didn’t believe them.
"Unless you have stellar social skills, there are going to be awkward moments."
I had to put myself out there, and it was difficult at first. Unless you have stellar social skills, there are going to be awkward moments. Pushing through these feelings is hard- it’s a lot easier to just go home and binge on ice cream while watching Friends. I had to go to four meetings before I finally felt comfortable with the people in my club. But it was worth it to stick with it.
Do Not Try and Make Best Friends with the Person Sitting Next to You
I mentioned earlier that I had gotten the cold shoulder from some classmates. In truth, they didn’t do it maliciously. It’s just how college seems to work, on it’s surface. Everyone is there for a reason - even if the class is an elective, and that reason is to earn a degree!
That being said, there are still a lot of people who are looking to make friends. Just don’t assume that just because you’re sitting next to someone, that they’ll become your best friend for life.
"When I’m paying for my classes, I don’t really want to goof off."
There is also another factor: when I’m paying for my classes, I don’t really want to goof off. In class, I need to be focused and organized. Having a bunch of my buddies sitting with me often takes me away from notes and the lecture. I am currently taking a psychology class that I have a lot of friends in. It is so hard for me to focus.
But in my creative writing class, I have almost filled my notebook! Know yourself, and know what works for you.
Take the friendship out of the classroom to grow.
I like to think of classmates as coworkers. While it’s nice to be nice, you are both there to get a job done. It’s hard to edit your new friend’s rough draft, when you’re still trying to charm them.
I am not saying that you should cross the people in your class off your “Potential Friends List”. If you hit it off with the girl that sits next to you, ask her to form a study group or ask her to join a club with you. Take the friendship out of the classroom to grow.
Assume Everyone is Just as Nervous as You
When I first started trying to branch out, I assumed everyone was too busy to talk to me or didn’t care. I also thought they could tell how nervous I was striking up a conversation.
There is no sure fire way to make friends, of course.
Then I started thinking about how I feel when people come up and talk to me: I love it! When someone new starts talking to me about my shoes or about the shirt I am wearing, it usually makes my day.
I asked one of my friends about our first conversation. She couldn’t tell that I was nervous to talk to her, and likewise, she was amazed that I didn’t think she was a mess. Now, when talking to someone new, I keep this in mind. I put both of us on the same level, and can really enjoy getting to know them. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of facing down your fears.
There is no sure fire way to make friends, of course. It’s all really about doing what you’re comfortable with and inching out of your comfort zone. Trying to be yourself is always a plus, and accepting others as who they are is an even bigger one.