Do you remember your first days of school in elementary and middle school? There was that anxiety of not knowing where to go, what to wear, how to find your bus and who to sit with at lunch. You thought that feeling would never haunt you again after you had your first day of senior year in high school, but you feel it creeping back up again with your first day of college approaching.
That feeling of anxiety is totally normal. You are starting at a new school and getting your first taste of true independence. Take it from me. I started college last year at an out-of-state school where I knew absolutely no one. The thought of my first day of college gave me agita every time I realized that I was going to have to make friends all over again and find my way around not just a building but a huge campus. All my worrying was for nothing though, because I made some of my best friends at school on the very first day I got there, before classes even began.
Here are my four simple tips on how to make friends on the first day of college! Trust me, if they worked for me, you can stop worrying about the first day of college now.
If you can’t do this simple thing, then disregard the next three tips. Going to college is like jumping into a pool of diversity. There are people of all different religions, cultures, sexualities and ethnicities. As far as I know, a smile means the same thing to everyone. Don’t fake it though. You don’t want to freak people out. By smiling (and meaning it) you are making yourself more approachable and you’ll exude a kind of confidence that will make people want to get to know you. Plus, you will feel good doing it.
2. Introduce yourself to the people on your floor.
As much as dorm life with communal bathrooms and cubicle-sized living spaces can be a drag at times, I can’t complain too much because if I hadn’t lived in a dorm freshman year, I wouldn’t have met my best friends (who were roommates at the time). The day I moved into my dorm, I saw their door open and I popped my head in to introduce myself.
Having a friend on your floor is an amazing advantage when you need a little escape from a roommate who is driving you crazy. Moving-in day is the best time to meet the people on your floor. Introduce yourself to the people in the elevator, look for open doors like I did or people in the common room. Everyone is in the same position, so it won’t be as creepy as it sounds.
3. Don’t sit by yourself.
On your first day of classes, don’t gravitate toward the empty areas. Instead, sit next to a random person. Start a conversation with the person next to you. You never know if you will have something in common with that person and get along well. Don’t sit by yourself at the dining hall either. Go out on a limb and sit with someone who is sitting alone. If you already have a group of friends to sit with and you see someone sitting alone, ask them to join you!
4. Go to the housing events.
During the first week of school, your housing area will probably have some welcome events planned. They may sound corny, but that makes the events even more fun, and often they have free food. Start up a random conversation with someone. Compliment their outfit, ask where they are from or even what they are planning on majoring in.
If for some reason my four tips fail you, don’t be discouraged! Remember that you are not the only one starting at a new school and embarking on this new experience. There is bound to be awkwardness and nervousness, but the last thing you should be stressed about on the first day of college is making friends.
Just remember this little piece of advice my mom gave me before I started college: “Smile and put yourself out there!”
About Devon Abelman: Devon is a sophomore at the University of Florida, where she is majoring in journalism and plans to minor in women’s studies. She aspires to be the editor-in-chief of Glamour magazine. When Devon isn’t busy with school, she loves to bake with her sisters, read magazines, travel with her family, listen to music and go shopping.