Welcome to another edition of Ask a Graduate! This is where I answer reader submitted questions about a wide range of college topics.
If you missed the first post, you can find it here: Ask a Graduate: Preparing for College Edition.
Today, I’m answering questions that have to do with socializing in college:
Any advice for making friends at a new school? I’m transferring from community college to a university next semester and I’m excited but also nervous about making friends and how that will go.
This is a super exciting time to not only get to experience somewhere new, but to get a fresh start as well! I think some of the best ways to get connected with other students is to join a club, get involved with community events where you live, and make an effort to connect with a study buddy in each of your classes. It may feel a little weird to introduce yourself to someone first, but two heads are always better than one when it comes to preparing for exams and such.
Honestly, I found that I met new people every semester from just the classes I was taking – it almost felt like I was in an entirely different school sometimes because I didn’t see anyone I knew! But that was also a really cool thing because it didn’t make me feel like the odd person out.
I’m a college sophomore who really has the case of “fomo – fear of missing out”. My really good friends first year suddenly changed their loyalties over the summer, and I’m heartbroken whenever they hang out with other people to replace me. There was no fight or disagreement on anything, but I get the feeling that the friendship was growing stale and that they were bored with me. I’m keeping an open mind for the chance to make new friends, but it seems like everyone has their own cliques. College shouldn’t be like high school, but it sure feels the part – especially at a women’s college. What should I do?
I recently wrote a post called Life After College: 7 Things I Wasn’t Ready For, and losing friends was one of those things.
I was always under the assumption that cliques would go away over time, but I’ve learned that they still exist well into adulthood. Now, I don’t think they were as bad as when I was in high school, but they are definitely still there.
I think one of the best ways to get over your FOMO is to get outside your comfort zone a bit and join some organizations or activities that you wouldn’t have otherwise. For me, this meant joining a step team during my freshman year. It was hard to jump into something by myself, but I quickly made friends and found an interest in something I wouldn’t have expected to enjoy.
Another important thing to remember is that even though you may feel like the lone outsider, then are plenty of other people walking around campus feeling the same way. Make a deal with yourself to try new things and to develop a mindset of knowing that your “people” are out there just waiting to find you, or for you to find them.
Should I join a club in college or just focus on studies?
I’m a big advocate or joining clubs and getting involved in any way you can during college. Yes, academics are extremely important, but all of those extracurricular activities can help you refine skills, network, and become a part of something much greater than just school.
Your college is your community. There’s no reason that you shouldn’t get to join in and be a part of it!
Now, I would never recommend overwhelming yourself. If you know that your academics are demanding, then try sticking with one club for starters. Not only will this club give you an outlet to meet new friends, but it will also force you to learn time management skills because you’ll have to learn how to fit in your studying so that you can attend the club meetings.
I also want to make note that academics make up only so much of your resume. Those extracurricular activities can actually make you stand out from others who are applying for the same entry-level job as you in the future!