If the prospect of going off to college for the first time seems intimidating, you're not alone. On top of adjusting to a new environment - possibly in a new state or region of the country - new classes and professors, and a new schedule, you also need to adjust to a new social scene. If you’re going out-of-state or somewhere away from all your friends, it can be reassuring to know a few familiar faces before you make the big move onto campus.
While you absolutely should join your school’s official Facebook group to connect with other students and stay updated on your school’s latest announcements, exchanging enthusiastic “Hi!”s with countless other pre-frosh online might not help you develop meaningful relationships with your classmates. Instead, try connecting with your classmates before school starts through one of these five ways:
1. Attend All School-Sponsored Events
Your school likely has events scheduled over the summer and during the first week of school to acclimate you to college life and help you meet other people. Check your school’s website to see if they offer Orientation, Welcome Week, or other social events. These events will help cultivate your first friendships at your new school and assimilate into the spirit of your school’s culture. These events are required at most schools, but even if they’re optional at your school, it’s in your best interest to attend. Get ready to learn more about your new home, mingle, and make a few friends, too!
2. Meet Other Local Students
The best way to get to know other students before you move in is to actually meet them in person! Look for meet-ups in your local area on Facebook. (These are usually found under the “Discussions” tab in your school’s official group, typically with titles such as, “Anyone from Boston?”) If you don’t see a meet-up for your city, consider organizing the event yourself and posting it on your school’s Facebook group to get other local students interested. Plan an outing to a local spot such as an ice cream store, park, or restaurant.
Your school may have already planned events in your local area, so check with your school’s department of undergraduate admissions to see if there’s an event near you.
3. Ask Around
Chances are good that you might have a few connections to your school already. Ask your family, friends, and teachers if they know other students at your future school. They might be able to give you the names of older students who can show you the ropes, or peers who are in the same excited, nervous place that you’re in right now. The name and number of your neighbor’s best friend’s cousin might not mean much to you now, but you might enjoy having that door open to you once you’re on campus. Send your new connections a quick message on Facebook along the lines of, “Your Uncle Paul is my neighbor. He told me that you'll also be at Tulane next year. Maybe we'll see each other there!”
Additionally, try to find out if anyone from your high school will be going to the same college in the fall. Even if you weren’t that close in high school, heading into college with a familiar person who shares similar roots - “Hey, remember that time when...?” - can be comforting in a class full of new personalities.
4. Get in Touch With Your Dormmates and Floormates
If meeting your classmates in person isn’t a possibility, you may want to get in touch with your dormmates and floormates online. Laura Baugh, a Virginia Tech sophomore and the Her Campus Virginia Tech Campus Correspondent, advises, “The second you figure out what dorm and what floor you're going to be living on, find a group on Facebook for it! If not, make one! This is a great way to meet people who will be living on your floor and in your building BEFORE you step on campus. You'll be surprised at how many of these people in these groups will be in some of your classes, too!” An added bonus? You may find your future roommate!
5. Move In Early
One of the best ways to acclimate to college life and meet people is to get involved in activities you enjoy, such as community service or sports. Some schools offer opportunities to move onto campus early in order to perform community service, such as American University’s Freshman Service Experience. Check your school’s website to see if it offers summer community service programs.
Alternatively, Jessica Salerno, an Ohio University sophomore and a Her Campus Contributing Writer, says, “I tried out for the club soccer team [before school started], and it definitely helped me get to know a few people. It's not like I knew any of the girls really well at the end of try-outs, but it was really helpful just to have something in common to talk about if I ran into any of them on campus.” Not sure if your sport has early try-outs? Call the coach or athletic department to find out.
It's unrealistic to assume that you're going to know your entire class before you even move in – after all, part of the fun of college is meeting new people on campus! - but it is comforting to have a few names, faces, and phone numbers tucked into your back pocket before you arrive.