Back at the Bottom: Making Friends as a Freshman
Making connections can be hard, but there’s good news: Everyone is just as desperate for friends as you are.
Danielle Wilkinson, Purdue University
So you’re a freshman in college, you’ve just moved in, and after you bid your family goodbye, you sit down and begin thinking to yourself, “Now what do I do?” You’re alone in a new place for the first time in your life.
I, like a lot of students, know exactly how that feels. I moved from the south all the way to the Midwest, and knew only one person besides my roommate (who at that point was basically still a stranger), so I know making friends in college can be stressful, especially for introverts like myself.
But I forced myself to be as open as possible freshman year, and as a result, some of the friends I made on move-in day and during the first week of classes are people I’m still good friends with today. I used a lot of the tips I’ve listed below, and also added some tips my friends from other colleges used to make friends during their move in day and orientation week.
So, if you’re new on campus and looking to make good friends quickly, here’s what to do.
Join the Party
In college, you find out very quickly that people just want to have a good time. On move-in day freshman year, my roommate and I were sitting in the lobby waiting to go shopping with my mom for last minute room supplies when a guy asked if we wanted to join in on a game of Frisbee.
Granted, he might have just been flirting with us but there were a ton of freshman in the front lawn playing Frisbee, laughing and making new friends. It looked fun and we probably would have said yes if we were staying longer.
Also during orientation week I joined in a game of Cards Against Humanity with a group of people in my dorm one night and we all had a blast. Anyone who has played Cards Against Humanity will know it’s a game that helps you to get to know the people around you VERY well, VERY quickly. Don’t be afraid to just walk up to someone and ask to join a game because A) they’re not going to say no and B) everyone’s as desperate to make friends as you are.
Love is an Open Door
Keep your door open. I know this has been said in probably every college advice article ever, but it’s there because it works.
There were several times freshman year when my roommate and I kept our door open while watching our favorite shows, movies or while we just hung out and people would pop their head in to say hi or wonder why we were laughing so much or hear a character speaking from their favorite show and mention it to us.
Simple things like that can help strike up a conversation and let you get to know your floormates without trying too hard. Also, my tip for girls specifically is to definitely deck out your room.
I kept my door open a lot the first week of school when my room was relatively clean and still decorated like a princess’s room slash my Pinterest board, and several people popped in to compliment my badass decorations.
Blast Your Favorite Music
If you’re more into music than TV and movies, blast your favorite music while you move in.
Not only will moving in be much more fun if you have something to jam out to, someone on your floor is bound to like the same genre of music as you. I kid you not, someone I know made five friends during her orientation day by playing this song in her room.
But seriously, stay true to who you are, play the music you love listening to and you might just find a future concert buddy.
After you’re all settled in your dorm, try going out of your way to try and help someone else. Maybe someone on your floor is having trouble reaching the top shelf and you’re six feet tall, maybe you’re a techie and your neighbor is having trouble setting up their wifi connection, or maybe you can be an extra set of hands when a floormate has too much to carry.
Put yourself out there and ask if you can help with anything or let your floormates know your door is open if they need you. Even if they refuse the offer, they will appreciate your willingness to help and this can open the door to a future friendship.
Elevator Chit Chat
This might be a hard step for the more introverted people, but trust me it’s worth it.
You will ride the elevator with the same people a lot because they might have all their classes at the same times as you or live on the same floor as you, so the faster you get to know them the better. Especially if you live on a higher floor, do you really want to ride the elevator for that long in silence? Just introduce yourself and let things flow from there.
A genuine compliment goes a long way, and can often lay the foundation for a potential friendship—and come on, everyone loves hearing good things about themselves. I challenge everyone the first week of school to give someone in their class or in their hall a genuine compliment on something like their appearance, clothing or a clever statement they made in class. Anything really, just make sure you mean it.
And follow it up with a question like “Where did you buy that?” or “Are you a blah blah major?” or “I really like this professor so far what did you think?”
Just to give some of you skeptics some hope, in my Com 100 class freshman year a girl came up to me when we were standing in line to hand in an assignment and said, “I love your sparkly sweater.”
And guess what? She also had on a sparkly sweater, so I told her, “I LOVE YOUR SPARKLY SWEATER TOO!” We’re literally best friends now.
If you’re trying to connect with someone new and blank on what to say just remember H.O.M.E. These are always safe topics: Hometown, Online, Major, Extracurriculars.
First find out where a person comes from. Are they from the same town you go to college in? Are they from across the country? Out of the country? Same city as you? That alone can spur a lot of conversation and you might find you have a lot of similarities.
Second, find out if they’re on social media so you can stay connected.
Some colleges are huge, so finding a way to stay in touch is essential if you ever want to see that person again.
I tend to find that asking for someone’s Facebook is less intimidating than asking for someone’s phone number. You could also ask for their Instagram, Pinterest or Snapchat. Or if you’re the kind of person who is bold enough to go straight for someone’s number, go for it. Just be sure to offer yours first to prevent any discomfort.
Finding out what major someone is can be extremely beneficial for your college career as well as theirs. If you’re in the same major you can complain about the same TAs, have someone to help you with homework, go to class with and even cram for finals with. If they’re in a different major you’ll have someone to possibly tutor you in a subject you need help understanding. It’s a win-win.
Lastly the extracurricular activities someone is a part of is also a good topic of conversation. Most colleges have several sports, clubs, sororities and fraternities to be a part of, so asking someone questions about how they’re involved on campus can give you some insight into who that person is and what they care about. Asking about someone’s extracurriculars the next time you see them will prove that you were actually listening to them (because let’s be honest, we all suck at listening) and that you care about their life. They will appreciate the gesture and think, “Man, we should be bros.”
I hope these tips helps you your freshman year like it helped me. Just be bold, be yourself and have a kickass freshman year.