Moving away to college can be tough – it can be scary for some. For most, it is the first time leaving the comfort of home, and it is the beginning of a new journey. Oftentimes, going away to college means leaving behind long-established friends, family, and sometimes boyfriends or girlfriends. Even so, college is an exciting and adventurous time in a person’s life. It is a new beginning, full of fun, challenges, and experiences.
One of the biggest challenges of going to college is meeting new people. Chances are, if you are moving to college, you are going to a different town, if not a different state, where you won’t know anybody. Luckily, as a freshman, it can be easy to make friends on campus especially because everyone has the same situation.
A great place to meet people is in your own dorm. Leaving your door open is inviting, and it shows that you are open to having visitors. You can also get to know your suitemates by sitting out in the common living area, as Emily did at Jacksonville University in Florida. Emily traveled from Connecticut for her first year of college and she loves her new location.
Another great way to make friends at school is to get involved in sports. Gretchen from Connecticut was on the swim team in high school. What better way to make friends than to continue this passion at the University of Vermont? That’s what she did! Colleges have lots of sports teams. There are also intramural sports teams you can participate in to meet people.
If you’re like me and you’re completely uncoordinated in sports, you can always watch the games from the sidelines and show school spirit. This is a great way to meet people and to spend time outside of the dorm. At some of the bigger games, schools give out free T-shirts, too!
Once at college, you may meet students from other countries. At my school, I’ve met people from Jamaica, Germany, Fiji, Bolivia, China, Barbados, and Lebanon. Think about how far they are from home! International students traveled thousands of miles and plunged into the melting pot that is the United States to further their education.
One student at the University of Hartford came from Bermuda to follow in his father’s footsteps. Peter said he made a lot of friends during his freshman year of college through the various International Festivals that were held on campus, and now he has friends around the globe. Even if you’re not an international student, these festivals are great to attend. You can expand your cultural knowledge, meet a bunch of great new people, and most of the time, there’s free food. It can’t get better than that!
Another way to meet people is to pledge a fraternity or sorority. Mary-Beth, originally from Connecticut, went to the Florida Institute of Technology not knowing a soul in the state. She pledged Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed national service fraternity, and made tons of friends while serving her new community.
Many sororities and fraternities participate in charity events such as Relay for Life, and they also raise money for organizations like Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, so they are really great groups to be a part of in college. You meet new people, make new friends, and enhance your résumé.
If going Greek is not for you, there are various clubs on college campuses where you can meet people. Joining a club is a way to meet people since most clubs are interest-based; so if you like bowling, you can join your college’s bowling club (or start one up!) and meet people who enjoy bowling as well.
College can be unsettling in the beginning for many people, but remember, you are NOT alone! There are thousands of other students having the same thoughts and feelings during their first few weeks away from home.
We live in an age of technology, so your family and friends are just a call, text, Facebook comment, or email away.
As for parents, it is important to remind your child that you will always be there if they need any help adjusting or need emotional support. Oftentimes, college campuses offer support groups on campus (or on the web) if you are having trouble adjusting to being away from home. Be sure to check on your own school’s website for information about counseling, therapy, or anything else the school offers to make you feel at home.
There are also several websites to help students get settled, choose a major, and offer advice for meeting new people and making friends.
This article is written by Melanie Kondor – former Church Hill Classics intern