Going to college can be very daunting because you are leaving the comfort of the hometown you grew up in and venturing off into a new stage in your life. When attending college, whether online or in-person, you will be surrounded by many people from all different parts of the state, country, and world. Even if you go to a school where friends from high school are attending, you will still be in a new community with the opportunity to meet new people.
As an out-of-state student moving from Maryland to California, I was super nervous about going to college and being surrounded by a ton of new people. I would be leaving my family and the friends who I have gone to school with since elementary school to go to college across the country where I did not know a single person. Having gone through this experience, I would definitely say that it is ok to be nervous about going to college, but your lack of knowing people at the college should not dissuade you from choosing to attend that university. From my experience moving across the country, here are some of my tips on how to meet people and make friends in college:
1. Join clubs: Joining clubs is a great way to meet new people. When classes are in-person, colleges will typically have a giant club fair where you can walk around and talk to current members of the clubs that you may be interested in. If you go to a large college, there are usually thousands of established clubs on your campus. Most colleges also allow you to create your own club if a certain interest of yours is not currently a group. Schools typically have a website where you can find a list of all of the organizations that your college offers. With online classes, you can look up the online list of your college clubs and then find their personal website and email to ask questions. Additionally, many clubs have been advertising their recruiting schedule on your specific college’s Facebook page. Once you commit to a college, make sure to look up and join those Facebook pages!
For me, I joined Berkeley’s Facebook pages over the summer and actually applied and interviewed for an intern position in the ASUC, which is Berkeley’s student government. I was offered to join this student group before I had even stepped foot on campus! Once college started, I joined the Hall Association in my dorm, which is the student government for each specific dorm on campus. Through the clubs that I joined freshman year, I had the opportunity to meet so many new people. Through the Hall Association, I was invited to go to numerous Residential Life leadership conferences, where I had the opportunity to go to the University of Southern California, University of the Pacific, and Purdue University for free to attend the conferences!
2. Attend dorm events: In your residence hall, the Resident Assistant (RA) will host floor events where you can go and meet your neighbors and other students living in your dorm. If you are living on-campus, even with online classes, your RA will host virtual events for you. The people who I met in the dorm freshman year are some of my closest friends four years later. Sometimes it is scary to put yourself out there and socialize with strangers, but just remember that every other first-year is in the same boat as you. Even if people are putting on brave faces, chances are that they are just as nervous as you. Everyone wants to meet people and make friends when they move to a new place, so meeting new people in the dorms your first few weeks of college is actually quite easy because everyone is introducing themselves to everyone else.
3. Meet people in class: Similar to putting yourself out there in the dorms to meet people, you can also meet people in your classes by doing the same thing. I’ve met people in my classes through discussion sections and group projects. During in-person classes, students typically sit in the same area of the lecture hall each day, so you become acquaintances with the people who sit near you. With discussion sections, the Teaching Assistant will ask you to work in groups with the people sitting near you, so this would be the perfect time to ask your group-mates for their phone numbers or add them on Facebook so you can reach out to each other later if you had homework or test questions. This also works in Zoom breakout rooms during online classes. In your breakout room or even in your lecture main chat, you can say that you are starting a study group and if people wanted to join, they can comment their email or phone number. Students who do not know anyone else in the class would gladly join your study group so then you all can discuss the class together.
4. At your campus job: If you get a job on your college campus, you will probably be working alongside other college-age students. During your shifts, you will meet other students and can get to know them, even if it is just small talk. When I worked as a Resident Assistant, Hiring and Training Coordinator, and tour guide on campus, I became close with my co-workers. You really bond over the shared experiences of the job you’re doing!
5. Through mutual friends: Another great way to meet new people is through the people you already know. If you do not know anybody in one of your classes, maybe one of your friends knows someone who is and can connect the two of you. Similarly, once the pandemic is over, attending group events is an easy way to meet new people. Some of my friends have become super close to people they met through mutual friends.
6. Online: I have seen a lot of students post on Reddit and our college Facebook groups asking other students to create study groups or to hang out. A bunch of people respond saying that they are struggling in the same class or that they are down for a socially-distanced hangout! Right now with classes online, it has been hard for many students to meet people, so posting inquiries online is an easy way to reach out. Everyone is in the same boat so do not be afraid to make a post!
Hopefully these tips have helped to ease your nerves about meeting new people and making friends in college. It is not something you should stress too much about because every person going to college for the first time is just as nervous and scared as you are.
Rachel is the Founder of Study Hall College Consulting. Rachel graduated from UC Berkeley in May 2020 where she double majored in Cognitive Science and Legal Studies. For more application and essay tips, check out our Study Hall College Consulting website at: shcollegeconsulting.com.