Making & Breaking College Friendships
College provides an opportunity to grow socially as well as intellectually, and by “grow,” I don’t mean just expanding your circle of friends. You may become part of more diverse group of people than you have ever experienced in your life. You’re not just saying hello to your peers in the hall or eating lunch with them; you’re living with them. The social transition can be daunting, frustrating, or even scary at times, but ultimately, it should be rewarding. College life is rife with chances to strike up new, lasting friendships, and you should do your best to take advantage of them. Here are some tips:
Get to know your neighbors. Who lives in the room next to you? The suite down the hall? They may not live with you, but they’re sharing the same space with you, and it’s better not to be awkward or unfriendly to someone you’ll probably see every day on your way to class. Meeting the people on your floor or in your dorm building is also a great start to making new friends; your future best friend might even be your neighbor!
Join clubs. Yes, it’s cliché advice, but I’d like to add that persistence and versatility are crucial. Not every extracurricular you join is going to be a social boon; many clubs are more about the experience than making friends. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t join these kinds of groups, but if you want to meet new people, take part in a lot of different activities, and participate actively. You’ll probably find at least one person you click with, and mutual club membership can be the beginning of a lasting friendship.
Be real, and be nice. Seriously. Pretentious, arrogant, or selfish people draw in others of the same type, and those aren’t the kind of people you want as friends. Approach new people with confidence, sincerity, and politeness. You’ll make more friends, and the friends you make will be more likely to stick.
Anticipate change. Many friendships, particularly during your first few semesters of college, come and go. People are busy figuring themselves out as individuals, and may find new friends and social groups along the way. Your “best friend” from the first three weeks of school may seem suddenly distant. Understand that this kind of drift is natural, and approach it with optimism.
Remember, this isn’t high school. Rejoice! College’s social climate is generally much more open, accepting, and easier to navigate than high school. Sure, there’s the occasional clique, and some people seem to be perpetually stuck in those gossipy halls and locker rooms, but these people usually aren’t worth befriending anyway.
End harmful “friendships.” Be ruthless. You’re a college studentnow, finding your path in life and following your dreams. The last thing you need is someone taking advantage of you or generally making you feel bad. Surround yourself with considerate, caring friends, and don’t waste your time with people who aren’t worth it. You might feel a little guilty after ending some relationships, but you’ll quickly discover that some bridges are better burned.