The most common fear that incoming college students have is the fear of not being able to make friends. I had this fear myself; I worried about whether I was going to like my roommate, who I would sit with at lunch, what I would say during introductions, and so much more. Fortunately, my initial fear was quickly knocked out of me upon arriving at Whitman due to my implementation of the three following tips.
- Actually attend your section dinners. The first year dorms at Whitman are designed to help you create your first small friend group on campus, so take advantage of your residence community. Go to your weekly section dinners. Do homework in your section lounge. Walk to class with your section friends who also have a class in Olin at 9am. And, last but certainly not ineffective, have small talk while brushing your teeth.
- Get to class 5 minutes early. Even just these 5 minutes on a repetitive schedule allows you to get to know the people who sit beside you in your classes. Before you start singing, turn to your fellow alto and complain about how you can’t sing high notes. While you’re sitting down in the computer lab, ask your programming buddy if their homework also took them 6 hours. Though it may be hard to believe, small interactions like these with the same people eventually build friendships, which you can eventually pursue outside of the classroom!
- Do things other than eat, sleep, and study. While these three things are certainly all wonderful, they unfortunately are independent and repetitive activities for the most part. Leave your room and join some kind of group—any group. Being part of extracurricular activities regardless of your interest or investment in the activity is a super easy way to make friends. Whether it is a sorority or fraternity, a musical group, the frisbee team, or even the mushroom club, your participation will engage you with the campus and you will thank yourself highly for this engagement, as will your new friends!
While college is a time to grow as an intellectual, it is also just as much a time to grow as a social being. Learning challenging material from books and other resources is a wonderful goal, but is ultimately rendered useless if you do not learn to communicate this knowledge. Find some time to put down your book; go eat dinner with your dorm section, throw a frisbee on Ankney, and spend 5 minutes laughing with your classmate about last night’s hilarious passage. Books, though fascinating, can not provide the warm, giddy feeling that making a new friend can.