Meeting New People On Campus
Meeting New People On Campus
Harlan Cohen (Author) gives expert video advice on: How are college friends different from high school friends?; How can I stay in touch with my high school friends who are attending other colleges?; Should I attend freshman orientation in order to meet people? and more...
How are college friends different from high school friends?
High school friends you've know for years. You've had so many experiences, you've had these amazing bonds that have formed over the years, but with college friends it's new and you don't always know who your friend really is. I call those friends temporary friends, and everybody has them and they're just people who are in your immediate circle, or in your immediate community who you become friends with. It takes years to really know who somebody is and it takes controversy and it takes shared experiences. Someone in the book said that it took years before I could yell at my new friend and know we would still be friends, but that's really the difference. It's like a cow and a cat - you can't really compare the two.
Should I attend freshman orientation in order to meet people?
You should absolutely attend freshman orientation. If there's a summer program, attend that summer program if there's an orientation in the summer. There's a couple of different ways that it works. Sometimes there will be a summer orientation of one or two days - absolutely do that. Then there's also a welcome week. A welcome week is usually the first week before classes start, or it's a welcome few days. Get there. That is so important because it's a frenzy of everybody who doesn't know anybody, and they all together. Just being there is so important because it helps you get comfortable with what is a naturally uncomfortable experience. Absolutely 100% go, and if you could do it twice, do it twice.
How important is it to make friends right away?
Some people go away to school thinking they need to have this ridiculous number of friends and need it to happen now. They will become friends with anyone that has a pulse, people that do things that they don't even want to do and when you surround yourself with people doing things you don't want to do, you ultimately end up doing those things too. It's the equivalent of sitting in a barn filled with just putrid manure. At first you're like, "aw, this really stinks", but after a while that becomes normal and you acclimate to what it is that you're surrounded by. So pace yourself. If you can find one good friend that you can connect with, that's great. If you don't find a good friend right away, you can find a lot of acquaintances. Friends are like the weather in college; they blow in, or then they blow out, but the more you do things that you love to do and surround yourself with those people, you'll naturally make friends. You just have to understand if you're patient and pace yourself, if you don't have a friend today it doesn't mean you won't have a dozen friends tomorrow.
Will extracurricular activities help me meet new people?
Getting involved in extracurricular activities is the most important thing to do when in school. It really is the most important suggestion and extracurricular activities I think are as important as academics. I tell parents, especially parents who are usually like academic advocates and also students, that its as important as going to class; to have one organization, or one activity to attend. Extracurricular activities is something that you can do to connect with people, because what happens is so many times students get to this new world, and they are surrounded by so many unfamiliar people. It's hard to meet new people and they find they don't have a lot of options in terms of friends, so they just make friends with the people around them and those aren't always the people doing the things that they necessarily want to do, and people they want to be associated with, but if you can create options, a world where you have options. This is what extracurricular activities are; things that create options. You could have different groups of friends so that when one group of friends is doing something you don't want to do you could be like I'm not interested' You then always have those other options and extracurricular activities are a doorway to help you to create a world that's filled with endless options
When is the right time to get involved with activities on campus?
Now, there are people who say “hey the first semester should just be about getting great grades, and you should wait to get involved”, but then there are those people who say “get involved do everything you possibly can, when you get there”. These people, however can become overly involved, and my suggestion is to pick one or two activities and get involved right away. That's why those orientations are so important, because there's usually an organizational fair. You should use Facebook getting in touch with people, do the things you want to do, because, too often it's too hard to get involved because you're too afraid of walking into a room where you don't know anybody. I'm on Facebook and I have thousands of Facebook friends, and if there's someone who you want to connect with, I'm cool to help you connect with those people. It's normal that these people are doing the things that you want to do and face book's great because you can just send them an email and ask them a question. If you want to get involved with one or two activities, you will then know someone there and it isn't so intimidating because you're not afraid of looking like a loser because you don't know anyone.
How can I make friends if I'm living off campus or commuting?
If you're someone who is living off campus or commuting, it's really a challenge because you aren't on campus for as many hours. You especially need to make it a priority that you are going to have one or two activities that you are going to get involved with. They are as important as going to classes, and you will meet people who live on campus which then gives you access to a bed if you need to crash or a lounge that you can crash in. Being a commuter, it's harder because you have to be the one to really seek out these experiences. Even students who are living on campus, you need be the one to take risks to walk into those rooms where you don't know anyone. When you're a commuter it's like you don't even know people in the cafeteria because you haven't really seen them walking around the residence halls, so it's just about sitting at the table with a stranger who you don't know. That's scary, but I say give that person permission to not react the way you want them to react. You can ask "Hey, would you mind if I grab a seat?" and if they're waiting for someone, you can be like "Cool, maybe tomorrow". That's a tough thing to do, but it's what you really need to do if you want to be engaged and involved and get the most out of this experience.
If I don't play competitive sports, how can I stay active?
In college you don't have to be on the starting lineup of your NCAA basketball team to participate in sports. The thing is that there are hundreds, if not thousands of opportunities to get involved with intramurals or club sports, sometimes people just even put together their own games. Things like alternate frisbee competitions just happen on campus. It's just knowing the people who can connect you to that. If you see people playing, ask them how they got involved. You can ask your RA, that's a great resource. You can also go to the Rec center and ask the people at the information booth. You can also talk to any of the people during orientation, it could be like hey, I wanted to get involved with sports but I just don't have the time to do something competitive. What's cool is even if you are one person and you want to be on a team sport, a lot of times they can connect you to a team sport through your Res hall. A lot of times there are competitive sports through your Greek organizations. There are so many opportunities if you want to be active to get involved without playing a scholarship sport.
What are the best places on campus to meet new people?
The very best place to meet people on campus, I would say, is to get out of your room. The best place certainly isn't in your room, because some people think they are going to meet people by staying in their room all the time. This isn't going to happen unless you order a tremendous amount of carry-out, and become great friends with the delivery people; it's very hard to make a lot of friends if you stay in your room. So you need to get out of your room, and once you're even in your hallway you can make friends, and then you can move from your hallway down to the Union, library, club, organization, class, or any place where people gather. Other places you can meet people includes study groups, such as through Greek life. You just have to get out, because the longer you're in a room with people, the better your chances of just making friends. I mean, that's how it happens. That's how it happened in high school, in junior high and also elementary school. It's just your parents aren't going to be there to put together play groups for you. You have to create your own play groups. And don't call them play groups because that's like, what does that mean?
Are religious organizations a good resource for meeting new people?
When it comes to religion and college life there are so many opportunities for someone who wants to get involved. I think with religious clubs and organizations, they tend to be really welcoming communities where they really allow you to enter this community with open arms, and it's nice. If that's something that interests you, make sure that you seek out that organization, that club or activity, and get involved. Two thirds of students have religion in their life in college, so I guess it's cool to pray. Pray for a lot of things. Pray for good grades. Pray to meet someone. Pray for whatever you want to pray for. Just pray
Where can I find religious organizations on campus?
Colleges are filled with religion, especially if you go to a religious institution that has some type of spiritual component to it. Virtually every college and university has some spiritual component, regardless of if there is a saint in the name. You can go to campus websites, and you can also ask your orientation advisor. Sometimes there'll be students who are orientation leaders, who can be great resources. Also, your RAs are great resources, and you go to the campus website. You can also go on Facebook and look for religious organizations on campus, which is great. I would say it's a larger organization or it's a university-sponsored organization, because especially when using Facebook you could find these organizations that have no credibility other than a student who wants to gather in his or her dorm-room. It could be credible, but it is maybe not always the safest thing to do. Make sure that it's a credible organization affiliated with the university when you want to get involved in these religious clubs and organizations.