Finding a Community in College
College is full of opportunities! In college, you have the ability to learn about a subject that interests you, and the ability to grow professionally as well as personally. While on this journey towards a career and adulthood, it is beneficial to have a group of friends and peers. Finding friends and maintaining relationships can be tricky. Nearly every college student struggles with finding the balance of school work and social/free time. Some college students over-commit their time doing school work, while others spend too much time hanging out with friends or roommates. While college, primarily is a place to learn, if you spend too much time in the library or in your room studying, you will miss out on potential life-long friendships, memories, and professional opportunities. On the other hand, if you spend to much time attending club events, hanging out with friends or playing video games, you are neglecting the primary purpose of college: to learn and excel academically. For now, in this post, we will go over how to find and maintain and navigate friendships in college.
To start, it is completely normal to feel anxious and worried about finding a community in college. You may be in a completely new city, or state than anything you have known before. You may not know anyone on campus or how anything works. On the other hand, you may be living with your parents, or be going to college only a short distance from home. You may even know a few people from High School that will be attending the same college. To be honest, a lot of the relationships and friendships from High School will fade with time as people begin to branch out and find new communities within their campus. This is not to say that your friendship will not remain intact, but rather it will take special considerations and effort. Here are some ways to keep these friendships alive.
Form a group chat and text, facetime and/or zoom regularly.
Don’t be afraid of inviting your pre-college friends to your campus or a campus event (sporting event, weekend trip, etc.).
Take the initiative to invite friends to hang out over breaks such as Thanksgiving, Winter, Spring, or Summer Break.
When you do invite your friends to hang out, make sure you do so with 1-2 weeks notice. This notice is important because they may have other plans and it can be hard to plan meetups when you are cities or states apart.
It is important to note, that while it is possible to keep these friendships, you should also be prepared and willing to step out of your comfort zone and meet new people.
How do people meet friends or peers on a college campus? Well, as scary as it may seem, meeting people in college is similar and maybe even easier than high school. While you have to put in the effort yourself, there are ample opportunities.
Leave the door of your dorm room open when you can/as appropriate. Having your dorm door open encourages other residents to stop by and say hello.
Invite your roommates, neighbors or classmates to lunch or coffee. If you are sitting next to someone in class, maybe ask them if they would like to get lunch at the dining hall after class.
Invite your classmates to study together. You can say, “Hey! I read on the syllabus that we have an exam in a couple of weeks. Do you want to start studying together on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm in the library?”
Attend college events and research clubs/organizations on campus. The majority of colleges have events all of the first week of campus. Some of the events may include an “Involvement Fair”. Typically, this is where clubs and organizations set up a table and you are able to walk around and hear about what each club does and how to get involved. Some clubs include, pre-professional clubs, greek life, video game club, travel club, rock climbing club and the list goes on! It is important to note that the list above is not guaranteed and depends on the campus.
These are just a few of the ways on how to get involved on your college campus. When starting to find a community, try to give it time but also make sure to put in the effort. In college, there is not anyone over you making sure you are getting involved. With that said, there are a ton of resources on your college campus that can help you if you reach out and ask for help. If you want help now and are looking for guidance or practice for what to do when you are on campus, click here to book a free 30 minute consultation with clinician, Danielle Feerst, OTR/L. In addition, you can connect with us on our Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Written by Madison Gies, Summer 2020 Intern