The Best Advice for College Freshmen Trying to Make Friends

When entering your freshman year of college, you are bombarded with endless advice from your parents, grandparents, high school teachers, older siblings/cousins/friends, online advice columns––all the people who have been there before and have labeled themselves college experts.

Go to class! Put yourself out there! Try to not take any 8 a.m.s! Wear shower shoes! Become friends with the people on your floor! Don’t stay up too late! Choose a major that’s right for you! Join lots of clubs and teams! Don’t procrastinate! Get to know your professors! Be yourself! And remember, have a good time, but not too much of a good time! *wink*

Jumping into a new experience, especially college, is intimidating enough, but add in the elders’ advice vomit, and you get one nervous freshman! As people, we tend to be scared of change for a reason––change is hard.

When I was a freshman, I felt like I forgot how to make friends. I had known practically everyone in my high school graduating class since first grade, and then suddenly I threw myself into a world where I knew no one. Yes, I was nervous about going to class, choosing a major, and having the right amount of a good time. Yet, I was mainly concerned about how I was going to make friends.

Before I even arrived at Boston University, I joined the BU Marching Band. I made some of my closest friends in my high school marching band, so I had hoped my college band would give me the same experience. I ended up moving into my dorm after doing band camp for the BU band, so I already knew a handful of people I would recognize on campus. Through seeing the people in my section multiple times per week at rehearsal and hanging out occasionally outside of band, I gradually grew friendships. Keyword: gradually.

I didn’t really feel that I had made good friends at BU until more than halfway through my first semester. Even then, all of my friends from marching band were sophomores or juniors––I wanted to know people from my own class.

As a freshman, I had to learn to accept being lonely a lot of the time, spending many Friday nights watching Netflix on my own, and eating most dining hall meals by myself. Some friend groups started to form on my dorm floor, but I was too shy to go knocking on any doors. My major was undecided, so the possibility of making friends in my classes was low. I knew I wanted to join a sorority on campus, but BU does formal recruitment in the spring.

I also felt alone in how I was feeling. My roommates were always out of the room with other friends, and I felt like I could always hear laughs from groups down the hall. Eventually, I learned I wasn’t alone in feeling alone.

When I did join a sorority (shout out to my Tri Delta sisters, ily), I talked to other new members about their experiences and that’s when I realized most of us were in the same boat. We hadn’t felt connected to many people at BU and yearned to make friends, which was a huge reason a lot of us went through sorority recruitment.

In my view, college freshmen make friends in two ways:

  1. They rush into friendships with people on their floors, which may or may not erupt in flames by the end of their first year. These friendships can be successful, but they also may feel fake and forced. 
  2. They naturally form friendships with people from their student organizations. This takes time, but these friendships are often more genuine.

I went with the latter option, and I ended freshman year with an assortment of sorority sisters and marching band pals. I went through a lot of solitary time to get there, but that’s okay.

Here is what my advice boils down to: college freshmen, join one or two student organizations and get really involved in them! You’re not going to meet people by attending only one meeting per week. Think about joining a sorority or fraternity since their fundamental purpose is to foster friendships between collegiates. However, also accept the fact you will probably feel lonely at times during your first year at college.

There’s nothing wrong with you if you take more time to form friendships. Use this time to focus on you. Whether you’re a freshman or a weathered upperclassman, have a fabulous year!

HCXO, Ally


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