Freshman year of college. We met A LOT of people at once. It was honestly overwhelming! Trying to find your place and establish new friends at a new school. Some people came to college with their friends or at least knew some names on campus, while others were completely lost and had to seek out friends on their own. No matter which of those you fall under, everyone seeks new friendships and wants to connect with others outside of their circle.
This can be challenging because it seems like friend groups are solidified after the first few weeks of college. People with like interests or similar schedules will click and spend a lot of time growing closer. You may look at your friend-situation right now and think “Man, my time is up … everyone’s already grouped up :(” Wrong!! Cliques are lame, anyway. Correction, close-minded or exclusive cliques are lame.
There are certainly people we hang out with more than others because we’ve had time to get comfortable with them and there’s a mutual desire to reach out for plans. (S/O to the real friends!!) But, it’s not really fair to limit ourselves to only one group of people and shut out anyone else. It always seems like people have their friend group and there’s no point of entry, but chances are, the people you’re thinking of also want to meet new people. Just because you may have missed out on making friends with someone freshman year, doesn’t mean you can’t now!
There’s the friends we’ve known forever:
Friends we made freshman year:
But what about the friends to come? From where do these new people just pop up and become so important to us?
I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some tips that have helped me branch out in college to make those new friendships:
1. Reach out to people with common interest
Walking on campus, we pass a lot of people and as human beings we notice things / pass judgement. Depending on our perspective, it’s not always negative! By this I mean that we may think to ourselves “Wow, they seem cool” or “I’d like to get to know more about them.” Even if you don’t explicitly think those phrases, we have a natural curiosity to learn more about people who strike us. (This is my Interpersonal Communication class knowledge speaking). But, this peak in interest should motivate you to actually learn more about them!!
If you see someone with a similar style as you, compliment them! You never know, it may develop into a conversation.
If someone says something you agree with or relate to, don’t stay quiet – engage with them!
2. Join clubs and organizations
If you’re not involved on campus already and are seeking to connect with people with similar interests as you: join clubs! We have over 50 clubs at SVC that relate to any interest you may have. It’s cool because when you join, other members will have interest in that area too! So, you can relate about the club’s mission, but you’ll also find that you connect with them beyond the club too. A friendship is born :,)
This doesn’t just apply to on campus, there are outside and online organizations that you can become a part of too. There are groups for everything! Truly. Facebook groups have become so popular and can be found for any interest. There are also online communities like PALM and College Fashionista. I’m a member of both and they allow college-age women to connect, network, and support each other. I have met some amazing women and gained career insight through joining. I’m also a GRWLPWRPGH member. With similar goals as my online groups, this one is a way to connect in person! Every quarter of the year, they host several events to bring creative women of the Burgh together. It’s awesome because I’ve made friends here that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.
3. Slide in the DM’s
Social media is an amazing tool to be … SOCIAL! Use Instagram for good and make new friends. See someone from SVC or around the area who seems cool? Reach out! You know how good it feels when people send you a message or drop a comment on your photo. It’s something so small that might spark a new friendship.
I have made so many friends this way. I used to be terrified to reach out online in fear of rejection or that they may think I’m weird. To this day, I’ve never had a negative reaction. I’ve only ever met some really cool people in doing this! If I see someone’s post and I like their outfit, before I would have kept the compliment to myself. But what good is that doing? If you have positive thoughts about others … tell them! It’s just letting that guard down and making the first move.
One of my closest friends, Marah, I literally met on Instagram. All I knew about her was that she was a talented blogger and was from the Pittsburgh area. We would respond to each other’s stories and realized we had a lot in common. Then one day we made plans to meet up in person for coffee and now we’re always in touch! It’s really as simple as that.
(DISCLAIMER: Make sure you’re interacting with REAL people online!! Our parents told us not to talk to strangers for a reason, but if they are clearly real and you have proof of that, then I see nothing wrong with reaching out. But, for real … please be safe!!)
4. Study Groups
People you have classes with will not only become allies through study groups, but a lot of friendships come from studying together! You may walk into a class on the first day not knowing a single person in the room. But come exam time, everyone wants to be friends. Take initiative and set up a study group or ask to join an established one! It will not only help to collaborate for exam material, but you may also be introduced to someone you really like.
5. Work friends
Ya know, the people you trade entire life stories with even though you just met them and ONLY speak at work? Yeah, them! If you really click with a co-worker, hang out off the clock. Make dinner plans after work or like me and my friend, Ava, would always do: get frozen yogurt between shifts! If you’re like me, you spend more than half of your summer at work, so your work friends become some of your closest confidants.
6. Use mutual friends to your benefit
If you only know of someone through a person you’re already friends with, maybe join them next time they hang out. If your friend likes them, there’s a good chance you will too. Mutual friends are a good way to expand your circle while keeping ties with those you’re friends with now!
7. Be bold
Want to talk to someone? DO IT. That’s the best advice I can give. It’s the root of all the things I listed above. You have to be bold to reach out or to join a club. Putting yourself out there takes courage, and sometimes that is easier said than done. Not everyone is a people person, I get that! Cause I’m really not either. Depending on your personality, it may be more comfortable for you to stay close exclusively with your circle. I’m not the type to walk around campus waving at everyone who walks by, but I also want to make new connections with people to make the most of my time in college. So, I’ve learned to be a little bold.
It’s never too late to make a new friend! Even if you love your current friends (like myself), the more the merrier!! Open your heart to new friendships, be bold, and everything will fall into place. You can’t force a genuine friendship, but you can certainly be willing to connect with people beyond your circle.
PS: If you’re a freshman at SVC reading this … cherish your podmates!! The girls from Pod 5F (and 5E guys) are seriously STILL some of my favorite people in the world. (#DontFwith5F xoxo) So if you haven’t already, be sure to appreciate them and make as many memories as you can together in Benny.