Getting to Know People in College

By Lorena Roberts on September 30, 2017

College can be some of the most exciting times of your life, but it can feel a little lonely at first. If you’re struggling to feel like you’re part of a community in college, there are many ways to fix that! This feeling of loneliness can happen to anyone- — and it probably does, if we’re being honest.

During your first year, more than likely, you live in a dorm with 60 other students on your floor, and 15 other floors above and below you. There are tons of people for you to get to know. But where should you begin?

Here are some tips for meeting your neighbors and creating your own community within your new life.

Go to all the freshmen events

Okay, you don’t have to go to all of them. But attending these events means you’ll be in the same places as all the other newbies on campus. You’ll have a lot in common with them, and you’ll probably walk away from the experience with at least one new pal.

Utilize your RA

You probably have a “floor mom” or someone who acts like it. Regardless of what they’re called, they live on your floor and they’re there to help make new freshmen feel welcome (among many other things). There’s probably some sort of rule about how many programs they have to put on per month, so definitely make sure you’re in the know regarding things that could be happening on your floor.

Even if you think the events are stupid, you should go anyway. It’s important that you meet people multiple times in order to build a friendship with them.

Make an effort

When you meet someone and you think they’re cool, reach out to them and invite them to hang out. It’s unreasonable to think that people will come to you. You have to make the effort to build those relationships with people.

Making an effort isn’t as easy as it may seem. Sometimes you just don’t feel like it. The easiest way I’ve found to invite someone to do something with you is to find a campus event that seems really interesting. Then, use your floor GroupMe or mass email to invite others to go with you.

Hang out in the common areas

If there’s any kind of lobby on your floor or in the building, start hanging out there to do your homework. It won’t be long before someone else joins you and voila — you’ll have some company! This worked really well for me when I was a freshman. As soon as I started hanging out in the lobby of our floor, so did other people. We very quickly made a little “friend group” that I was welcome to hang out with whenever I wanted.

Never eat alone

Every time you go to dinner, invite someone to go with you. Eating alone is one of the easiest ways to feel the most lonely. The more time you spend in fellowship with your peers, the more likely you are to come out of the experience with friends.

Talk in class

No, not while the professor is speaking. But talk to the people who sit around you. You might meet someone who lives in your residence hall or someone who shares your interests.

Suggest working on assignments together (no, not cheating) or studying together for tests. You’ll find very quickly that you’ve created little groups in your social circle.

Join organizations

This is one of the easiest ways to build community. Join an organization with people who have similar likes and dislikes, but also people who are much different from you. The purpose of college isn’t just to get a degree — it’s to teach you about the world and the different kinds of people in it.

Be nice to everyone you meet

Tell yourself that every person you’re introduced to has potential to be your newest friend. If you’re super nice to everyone, there’s no reason why everyone won’t want to be your friend!

Alone time is okay

Spending your time meeting people and being social is great and all, but when you’re feeling the need to relax and unwind, DO IT. I cannot stress enough that yes, college is about having fun, but college is also about learning yourself. Know when you need to slow down and take a few hours for yourself.

Don’t pretend like this is high school 2.0

You don’t have to hang out with people just because you have a class together anymore. That was high school. Your social circles could’ve been forced. Now you get to hang out with whoever you want because you want to.

Lorena graduated from The University of Tennessee in Knoxville last December with a BA in Honors Psychology. She has been accepted to Lehigh University's PhD School Psychology program beginning this August. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her Whippet mix, Gio, at the dog park and binge watching Netflix with endless cups of Hot Cocoa.

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