When senior year of high school comes to a close, the nerves for moving off to college grow stronger as move-in day creeps closer. This feeling was similar to how I treated moving away from home as the excitement for buying dorm room essentials withered away. Dropping everything you have ever known and heading into a new world that’s absolutely foreign to you is scary. College in itself is not a frightening idea; it’s the thought of moving out of your comfort zone that is the real source of most freshmen’s anxiety.
As a sophomore at George Mason University, I would love to be able to say that I have college life figured out. Unfortunately, I don’t. I ended my high school career in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and am almost done with the first semester of my second year in college with the same regulations I have had to follow since I stepped foot on campus. However, what I can offer you is some personalized insight into what my experience was like and how you can switch gears when things don’t go according to plan to make your personal experience better.
Friends. This word can create feelings of excitement but also dread and helplessness. Personally, the word “friends” caused all of those same feelings for me during my freshman year. Throughout my life, I’ve easily created friendships with those I share similar interests with. As a freshman in college, my experience with making friends was thrown out the window as I was not able to bond and create real connections with anyone I came across in my first semester. After talking to my peers a year later, I have concluded that our encounters with potential acquaintances went the exact same way and I wasn’t the only one experiencing such hurdles.
Although a large portion of the friends made during your first semester will stick with you throughout your collegiate career, others won’t. And that’s okay! Instead of feeling like you’re unable to find your friend group, put yourself out there by attending campus events, clubs, organizations, local communal gatherings and initiating conversation with students in your classes about course content or their campus experience to open dialogue with others.
Most freshmen share the same emotions towards introducing themselves to someone they don’t know, so it’s important to take the first step in connecting with someone if you really want to get to know them. Fortunately, at George Mason University, the possibilities are endless for meeting new people. One of the many ways I branched out when I didn’t feel as though I had a specific “place” I fit in on campus was by downloading the Mason 360 app. After downloading the program to my phone, I was able to stay informed of each organization’s mission, meeting times and specific goals for potential new members. Another great way to meet new people is to introduce yourself to residents in your dorm and receive their contact information to make future plans together.
Remember, campus life can be extremely overwhelming but allow yourself room to grow as an individual while also surrounding yourself with friends who can do the same alongside you. Don’t be afraid to meet new people, but take a step back and re-evaluate your plan of action if things don’t go according to plan. As Zig Ziglar once said, “If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.”