Summers over, it’s the new year of school, and your social skills have, yet again, stumbled upon the infamous reset button. We get it, you need serious help finding the Watson to your Sherlock, or the Marty to your Doc.
Luckily for you, college is a place where communities are constantly changing: old students are graduating, new students are flooding the halls, new organizations are forming, and in the midst of it all, friendships are blossoming. For some of us, college is a new chapter in our lives after high school, for others, it may be a fresh start from finishing a study abroad program in Italy. Whatever the case, all of us are looking forward to creating meaningful relationships as the fall semester rolls in. So, whether you’re an incoming freshman or a stressed out senior, here are some tips on how to make friends in college!
Be Bold, Brave, and Bubbly!
Try introducing yourself to your classmates on the first day. Let your inner optimism shine through, even if you find it tough on your first day. Take a seat next to someone and strike up a
conversation. It doesn’t have to be super deep (current politics) or super lighthearted (the weather), instead, try starting out with a genuine question. For example, ask them how they are or how they’re finding their classes so far. After you’ve broken the ice, crack a joke or tell them something interesting about yourself. Your pearly whites are the cherry on the top, so smile throughout the conversation. Everyone loves a person with high spirits and good energy. A cheerful person who enjoys laughing and smiling a lot tends to influence the people and environment around them, developing a pleasant atmosphere. So remember, smiling is key!
Be Confident, Cool, and Collected!
It’s good to sometimes show your vulnerability, we’re all human at the end of the day and we’re destined to have our shy moments where we shrivel up and shut everyone out, but focusing on cultivating a confident exterior can help attract many people in the long run. A chill and confident person is attractive—it’s what so much of us want to accomplish and thus makes it desirable trait. However, make sure not to be too overconfident, that can be
somewhat intimidating, but try exhibiting a self-assured type of demeanor, all while staying poised and being kind to those around you. A person who is sure of themselves is bound to charm the people around them.
Be Interesting, Intellectual and Inspirational!
Find common ground with those around you—it can be anything! Books, video games, science, cars! Try to know a little about everything: this will help widen the scope of the people you meet and interact with. Make sure you know a little about a topic before delving into a full conversation about it. If you’re feeling somewhat skeptical about what you’ve brought to the table, switch it up by bringing in, or linking it to, another topic of a shared interest. Don’t be afraid to bring in your own experiences and stories, people are always interested in what others have achieved or experienced. It makes you more interesting, and it can also help inspire others to do the same!
Be Social, Sincere and Spirited!
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! Attend campus events, join organizations, get involved in a volunteer program, apply for a campus job, research possible internships, join a fraternity/sorority, become a mentor or a tutor! College has so many opportunities to try new things and meet new people! Join or create a study group for you and your group of friends, or do research with a favorite professor. The more opportunities you take hold of the more people you’ll meet! Make sure you give everything you do your 100 percent, people are drawn to those who work hard and are authentic in what they do. Treat people with sincerity and always be yourself! An honest person who isn’t afraid to show who they are is a winner in anyone’s book!
Still not convinced? Maybe some real experiences, with my trusty-old reporter skills, will help persuade you or nudge you in the right direction!
Fresh and ready with my morning coffee in hand, I set off to find and question some current UWM students around campus, to see if they would be willing to share any tips or advice when it comes to making friends in college.
Emily Romeril smiled at my question and recommended trying to get involved in an Org or community project.
“I’ve made at least one solid quality friend [through this approach] each year,” Romeril advised.
Sophomore Lina Badwan suggested to go with your inner instinct.
“You want to be friends with this person, but you don’t know how to go about it so you lose the opportunity,” she explained. “Just go for it, don’t be afraid, the worst that could happen is that you accidentally sneeze in their face and they never want to talk to you again.”
Juniors Maisam Karim and Breeha Shah both suggested to make friends with people in your classes, saying that “in order to form a relationship that clicks right away, you need to find people who share similar interests.”
A more academic approach to making friends was brought forth by Mitsuki Ide-Fendt. She suggested to have an “active participation in class activities” which would to let “your personality shine through your work ethic.”
Exciting and fun as it may be, making friends isn’t necessarily limited to just finding new people. Sometimes meeting and polishing up a friendship with someone through someone you already know can also help.
I caught Sophomores Chloe Wellens and Claire James eating lunch in the Union Grind, immersed in conversation about backpacking through Europe together, and after swallowing a few cold sips of my now old coffee, asked them to share their story of how they became such great friends at UWM.
“It was definitely about connections,” Wellens said, smiling at James, “all of our friends met through [mutual] connections.”
When asked whether or not UWM enriched their social skills and boosted up their everyday interactions, they both agreed that it definitely had, claiming that the friendships they’ve made here would equate to lifelong relationships in the future.
“I wouldn’t have liked any university as much as I liked this one,” James concluded.
“I love the diversity,” Wellens added. “You can be on the elevator for a few floors and you can still make a friend.”
So, there you have it. What are you waiting for? Hop onto the next elevator. Ask your newly found acquaintance to grab some coffee.