nervous college student carrying box into dorm

It’s not easy moving away from home, adjusting to new surroundings, and living with complete strangers. So, of course, it’s no wonder that most high school students are scared to go to college. For many teenagers, it may be the first time they’ve been on their own for an extended period of time.

Going away to college often means leaving family, long-established friends, and sometimes boyfriends or girlfriends behind. However, once you’ve made it through the first few weeks, you’ll be less nervous about college. You’ll find that freshman year can be an exciting and adventurous time. Think of starting college as 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’re moving to college, you’re living in a different town, if not a different state. Luckily, as a freshman, it can be easy to make friends on campus, especially since everyone is in the same situation. In addition to attending events geared toward freshmen, here are some tips for adjusting to campus life.


Get to Know the People in Your Dorm

A great place to meet people is in your own dormitory. Leaving dorm rooms open is inviting, and it shows that students are open to having visitors. You can also get to know other dorm dwellers by sitting out in the common living area. Make an effort to attend dorm cookouts and residence hall activities. Ask your R.A. about upcoming campus events.

Join a Sports Team

Show your school spirit and instantly bond with a group of new friends by getting involved in athletic clubs or team sports. Many campuses also offer group exercise programs like yoga, spinning, dance, weight training, and Zumba at their fitness centers. Working out is a good idea for freshmen looking to reduce stress and anxiety in those first few weeks. It’s also perfect for those in need of a “gym buddy,” someone to help you stay on track and stick to an exercise program.


Attend College Games

If playing sports isn’t your thing, you can always watch the games from the sidelines and cheer for your team. Rooting for your school teams is a big part of college life. (As is collecting team swag, like game day merch and college photo frames.) Learning the game traditions and chants can create an instant sense of campus community. College football games are 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 (bonus!).

On-Campus Jobs

Be sure to apply for part-time positions on campus. Whether working at the bookstore, gym, coffee shop, or financial aid office, it’s a great way to make money and new friends at the same time. Your best bet is apply for jobs well in advance. Keep checking for open positions early in the summer.


Go to International Events

Once at college, you may meet students from other countries. International students travel thousands of miles and are plunged into the melting pot that is the United States to further their education. Attending international festivals on campus is a great way to expand your cultural knowledge, meet a bunch of great new people, and take advantage of the free food that’s often offered at these events. It can’t get better than that!

Volunteer at Campus Events

Offer to work during homecoming, family weekends, at on-campus carnivals, information booths, and registration tables. This is a great way to work with your peers, meet and greet other new students, and add valuable work experience to your college resume.


Get Involved in Greek Life

Another way to meet people your freshman year in college is to pledge a fraternity or sorority. Many sororities and fraternities participate in charity events and community fundraisers. Events like these are a great way to give forge new friendships, raise awareness for important causes, and enhance your resume with volunteer work experience. (Another benefit of joining a sorority or fraternity? Putting that membership on display in an officially licensed Greek certificate frame!)

Join a Club or Start One

If going Greek is not for you, there are various clubs on college campuses where you can meet people. Most clubs are interest-based, so whether you like bowling, pickleball, or playing video games, you’re sure to find like-minded enthusiasts.

Other clubs might be related to you your college education pursuits like community service projects, a STEM-related club, a group for female entrepreneurs, or school newspaper. These organizations are often mentored by professors or college graduates in your field of study. Therefore, they are can offer networking opportunities and a great way to meet members of study groups.

If your college doesn’t offer the specific club you’re interested in, why not start your own? You’ll likely find others interested in your hobby or passion (and “founder of a college club” looks pretty impressive on your resume!).


Find Support on Campus

If you need emotional support during this period of adjustment, seek out counseling resources. Many universities offer peer leadership programs or support groups for students in need of coping strategies. Check the school’s website for office hours, advice for finding friends on campus, or for tips on handling homesickness.

College can be unsettling at first, but remember, you’re NOT alone! There are thousands of other students experiencing the same feelings during their first few weeks away from home. Just remember, your family and friends are just a call, text, or FaceTime away!

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