Cliques In College?

From the day I received my acceptance to college up until the day I left, I heard endless advice about how to adjust. A few things I learned: always have extra quarters for laundry, take advantage of meeting with professors, and remember teachers will curve test grades. Other than that, the overwhelming consensus from everyone I talked to was that college was nothing like high school, and to be honest I was happy to hear it. High school not only started at eight am, five days a week, but was also full of cliques, catty girls, and drama. I was definitely ready to get away from that.
 
Well, now that I am here at Lehigh, I have something to say about the overwhelming assumption that college and high school are worlds apart. As I am getting further into the school year, I have noticed that indeed there are college cliques. Since when do these exist?
 
It is natural to be drawn to certain girls more so than others. This is not an issue by any means until you find yourself locked in a specific group of friends. Sure, there are those few other friends from the tennis team, and that girl from statistics you like to study with, but I catch the same girls going to dinner with their designated “group” every single night. So, is this a problem? Is having a clique in college completely defeating the purpose of the college experience? Well, I will say that having a designated group of friends has its upsides. Because you spend so much time with these girls, you can be completely yourself with them. If you ever have a problem or are upset, you would probably have no hesitation opening up to one of them. But, at the same time, if there is ever an incident where someone falls out of line or gets in a fight with one of the girls, a girl you once called your best friend could end up alone. The problem is, girls talk bad behind other girls’ backs, because they are blinded by the idea of an exclusive group. And more importantly, these girls involved in cliques could be holding themselves back from fully experiencing college.
 
A huge part of adjusting to college is accepting a new home. Home is a place of comfort and that includes a group of friends. Many girls are caught up in the idea of being a part of a clique. The exclusiveness, even though it is catty, makes you feel good about yourself; it gives you confidence. But you will soon realize that you are shutting yourself off from other girls and not branching out.
 
Cliques are inevitable. You will always feel most comfortable with your best friends. But, this doesn’t mean that you only have to hang out with the same people all the time. And, if the girls in your close group of friends aren’t accepting of you trying to meet new people, they aren’t really your close friends. The real challenge is finding a balance.
 
If you find yourself stuck in a clique, and you are not sure how to handle your new found, designated group, here is some advice to try and break the exclusiveness:

  • Go to lunch and dinner with different girls.

Although you may not be comfortable going out at night with different people, going to lunch and dinner with these girls is a great way to reach out to new friends and get to know more people. Even just simply asking that nice girl in your English class to grab a cup of coffee can help prevent being with the same girls every second of every day.

  • Try to join clubs based on your specific interests.

Along with branching out for meals, joining clubs specific to your personal interests and hobbies, as opposed to the interests of your friends, will be a good way to branch out. Doing what interests you is not only a great way to meet new people, but also will help build you as a person. Some of the clubs in college will give you a better idea of what you might want to do in the future. By not letting your group of friends influence what activities you join, you are already breaking the clique stereotype.

  • Don’t be catty.

Sometimes, the danger of a clique is getting involved with the wrong girls. The beauty of college is there are so many different people you can become close to. It is important to recognize when you find yourself either talking behind girls’ backs or if you do not like the person you become around your group of friends. It is very easy to avoid being a catty girl, simply don’t associate with other catty girls.

  • Don’t be afraid to build a group of friends, but not a clique.

And last, it is very normal to feel the most comfortable with the girls you’ve established the best connections with. Whether you are having a bad day or you just want to hang out with girlfriends, it is perfectly fine to establish a group of friends, essentially, a comfort zone. Just because you have a certain group of girls you enjoy hanging out with does not mean you have to follow the definition of a clique. You do not have to exclude anyone, you do not have to spend all of your time with the same people, and you certainly should not hold yourself back from branching out. Having a group of friends is a normal part of becoming acclimated to college, and you should not be afraid to get close to a group of girls you feel a connection to.
 
In a sense, college is like high school. There are cliques of girls, there is a huge adjusting period, and it takes a while to get accustomed to an entirely new school. But college is also where we mature and leave the high school phase behind. Cliques are merely your group of friends, as long as you handle yourself as an independent adult and not a catty teenager. Adjusting to college is like adjusting to high school, but intensified. Not only are we thrown into a more difficult academic environment, but we also have to figure out how to live with a roommate, adjust to the workload, make new friends, and find a home away from home. Most importantly, college is about figuring out who we really are, and that starts with the people we surround ourselves with.