It’s official. You’ve put down your deposit, filled out your housing survey and are anxiously awaiting information about orientation weekend. Now that you’ve decided where you’re going next year, it’s understandable that you’re excited about your school and want to turn to Facebook to reach out to your fellow pre-collegiettes™ in the Class of 2016.
It’s intimidating to head to a campus where you don't know anybody, so it makes sense that you want to get to know people before you arrive. Keep in mind though, that everybody is in the same boat as you—heading to a brand new place with very few solidified friendships or connections, if any at all. As a result, your first instinct may be to start with Facebook.
But should you reach out to everybody in your school’s network? Should you create a group for all the girls who will be living on your floor? What about one for all the people in your major? What is the proper Facebook etiquette for getting in touch with people going to your school? Have no fear, pre-collegiettes™. HC has pulled together some helpful dos and don’ts before you step into Facebook territory.
1. Reach out to students in your major or girls who have the same hobbies or interests as you.
Finding people in your program or school who have common interests is a great way to connect with people you might want to be (real life) friends with. Instead of friending every single incoming freshman who you see on Facebook, friend people who you share something with.
“I think it's really awkward to mass friend people just because they're in your 'College Class of 20XX' group,” says Bowdoin College student Quinn. “If you have something in common with someone or are from a similar area then I think it's okay. My freshman year I remember thinking of/talking about people as 'the one who made the Class of 2013 Facebook group' and 'the one that friended everyone.’ You don't want to be that person!”
Says one collegiette™, “the only problem I see with friending someone you don't know yet is if you make no effort to talk to them BEFORE you go to school. The most awkward situation would be to be in your dorm or a class and see this person you friended on Facebook weeks before school, but never actually talked to. I think it is perfectly reasonable to friend someone from your school with similar interests as long as they are accompanied by a message or chat. ‘Hey, I noticed you are going to... and you like... I thought it would be nice to be familiar with some people before we move in...’ Nothing wrong with that.”
Still not sure who you want to friend? You can message people you aren’t friends with, which is a great way to chat for a bit before deciding if you actually want to add them to your network of friends. Don’t know how to do this?Try searching for your major (business, biology, journalism, etc) in the search box at the top of the page. Click the “See more results” link at the bottom of the list and then filter your search by people. You’ll get a list of people in that major, and from there can filter your search by location, education and workplace (usually the “official” groups have the most members).
2. Join the “Class of 2016” Facebook groups for your specific major, dorm or city.
These groups are always fun to be a part of—90 percent of surveyed collegiettes™ joined their class group, as it’s a cool way to interact with people you may be working, living or studying with. This way, you’re not adding everybody you don’t know, but you still get a sampling of the people you may be interacting with.
“The summer before leaving for college, I found a group on Facebook that was dedicated to the dorm I would be living in, specifically for the upcoming school year,” says Kristie, an Arizona State University student. “It was a freshman dorm, so all of these other people were joining the group and posting which floor they were assigned to, and sometimes even their room number. I scanned the group members for girls on my floor, and, yes, cute guys too! I friend requested anywhere from five to 10 people and got about half of them to accept my request. I messaged those people saying that we would be living in the same dorm, and I was just excited about college and wanted to get to know a few people before move-in day. A handful of people actually responded, and I'm glad they did. One of the guys turned out being the foundation of my group of friends and one of my best guy friends at school, and another one still talks to me when we cross paths on campus!”
Some of you may not be able to join until later in the summer when you get your assignments, but groups are a great way to have a community conversation and seek out people you’d like to get to know individually.
3. Post and answer questions on the group’s wall.
Everyone has hundreds of questions bouncing around in their brains before the move to school. So whether you’re a local and have a wealth of knowledge about your school or are across the country with only a little info, interact in the groups once you join them!
Same goes for using discussion boards—not only can you find out information, but you can also discuss anything from your favorite TV shows to finding a potential roommate.
“I met my freshman year roommate on Facebook in an Emerson College Class of 2011 group discussion board,” says Emerson College grad Cassidy. “The discussion board was about finding roommates, so everyone posted their likes/dislikes, favorite TV shows/movies, whether they smoke or not, whether they go to sleep and wake up early or late, etc. One girl thought it looked like we had similar interests/styles, so she sent me a Facebook message, and then we met up in person at the college's accepted students day, and then became roommates after that!”
4. Plan to meet up with the people you’re talking to.
Just like Cassidy did, if you can meet up with people you have been chatting via Facebook, all the better. Going to school across the country? Found somebody from your hometown attending the same school? Once you’ve messaged and talked for a bit, plan to meet up for coffee and chat! This way you can tell if you click or if things are just plain awkward. Either way, you aren’t sacrificing much, and you may have made a new friend!
44 percent of surveyed collegiettes™ met up or chatted with people before starting college after friending them on Facebook.
“It was never anything particularly concrete, but I found a few people who were actually living in my dorm (through a group that was created) and we made vague plans to try and meet for lunch or walk to classes,” says one collegiette™.
5. Friend mutual friends or family members who are at your school.
Does your older brother have a friend who is a junior at your university-to-be? Do you have a second cousin whom you met once when you were 12 who will be at the same college as you? Friend them! 100 percent of surveyed collegiettes™ believe you should reach out to these connections, as these mutual friendships are worth pursuing—sometimes you will never talk again, other times they’ll be a great mentor or new friend once you get to campus.
“Because even though you might not know them personally, at least you have a connection through a family friend,” says one collegiette™. “It's like ‘Okay, my best friend went to summer camp with her, I know she must be a cool girl.’”
When looking for a roommate, Tulane University student Stephanie, “got to do some investigating before making any commitments and even found some mutual friends,” she says. “We made different friends at first, but with time we all became one big group of friends. Facebook was super helpful! We are juniors now and still best friends.”
1. Add just anybody who is in your new school’s network.
Just because they go to your university doesn’t mean you’re going to be friends. Adding anybody regardless of their major, interests or year is just plain creepy, and mostly unnecessary. Keep in mind that anybody you friend automatically has access to your wall and photos, so friending hundreds of people you don’t know automatically gives them access to your profile.
Likewise, 100 percent of collegiettes™ also agreed that you shouldn’t friend every single person in your school’s network.
“[You’ll] come off as too eager and desperate,” warns one collegiette™. “Plus, once you actually get to school, everyone already has you labeled as the creepy kid who friended everyone already.”
Ultimately, “It's weird and will give you a stalker-like reputation,” says another collegiette™.
So keep in mind, “if you don't know them, there's really no reason to add them on Facebook,” says a third collegiette™. “Three years later you will be going through your friend list deleting people you don't know or your newsfeed will be clogged with status updates from people you don't care about. Or you'll spend a long time trying to figure out how you know them!”
2. Give out too much personal information.
Although it’s rare, talking to people over the Internet as a young woman can be risky. Make sure you’re not giving out things like your address or any other personal information you wouldn’t want somebody you don’t know to have access to. Consider cleaning up your profile and taking off anything you shouldn’t necessarily have on the Internet. Need help? Her Campus writer Allie Klein wrote a great guide!
Also, when friending new people on Facebook, keep in mind that what you find on someone’s profile may not necessarily be an accurate first impression.
“I would 'friend' them, and then months later meet them,” says Melanie, a Hostra University student. “It was always strange because I would have preconceived notions of this person through looking at their Facebook page. It gave me too much information about the person before officially meeting them, rather than letting me make my own opinions and judgments on them.”
3. Spam or overwhelm people you don’t know yet.
Sending out thousands of messages to people you don’t know isn’t necessary. Pick a handful of people with key interests – you don’t want to have messaged the whole school before you even get to campus! The same rule applies for posting in groups – answering or asking a few questions is fine, but don’t take over the entire conversation. Let others participate – you don’t want to be known as the obnoxious one based on the million posts you send out.
4. Friend every single person in your incoming class.
Trust us, you don’t need 3,000 new Facebook friends just because they are in the class of 2016. As we stated above, refrain from adding just anybody.
“I think it's awkward to friend anyone you don't know in person on Facebook,” says Collette, a University of Montana student. “Then you end up seeing them around and it's really weird to be like, ‘Oh, hey, I think I know you from Facebook.’ Real interactions are much better.”
Just because you scoped out a cute boy who you have begun to fantasize about with your girlfriends doesn’t mean you need to post that on his wall. Being flirty or inappropriate with guys you don’t know will automatically create a negative reputation for yourself.
E-flirting can be tricky, and 46.7 percent of collegiettes™ think incoming freshmen should steer clear from it.
“While it's not crossing the line, I personally don't care for it,” says a collegiette™. “The times this happened for me, it never really got anywhere. Technology is great and all, but if you're truly interested in someone, I think it's better to talk to them in person and get to know ‘the real them.’ I don't talk to any of the guys who ‘e-flirted’ with me, but I do talk to a lot of great people that I met in an actual face-to-face social setting!”
Overall, “I don't think it's crossing the line, but I'd say be careful,” cautions a collegiette™. “Getting into something serious with someone you've never met can be disappointing if it doesn't work they way you planned.”
There’s no universal right or wrong in terms of how to use Facebook before you get to college. Do what feels comfortable to you, and remember that you don’t want to create a negative reputation for yourself before you even get to campus. Ultimately, “Putting yourself out there is awkward, both in reality and on the web!” says University of Pittsburgh student Jordan. “But the good news is that everyone is in the same boat heading to college. Meeting your floor mates will be awkward, and adding people on Facebook is no different. But like in reality, if you don't put yourself out there, you may miss out on potential new friendships! You never know until you try!”
Most importantly, enjoy the rest of your senior year and your last summer before college, and congratulations on successfully making it through the year!