Updated: Nov 15, 2020
PHHS '18, Fairleigh Dickinson University '22
Transitioning from high school to college is a big step. I won’t lie to you, I walked into my first college lecture with literal butterflies in my stomach… did not know what to expect, where to sit, how to act, etc. I even thought everyone was judging me when I walked in like it was survival of the fittest and if I didn’t blend in with the crowd I would be kicked out. And you know what, that's okay. Because it didn't hit me until later that I was not the only one feeling that way. (I also didn’t know that the classes could be a mix of freshman to seniors; so that just proved how much I knew going into college.)
I went through my first week of classes thinking I was not going to make any friends. I chose to sit alone in all my classes because I did not want to intrude on already made friendships from people that knew each other from dorming. I felt awkward, alone and with no one to talk to. It wasn’t until my second week of classes I chose to start putting myself out there by sitting next to strangers and introducing myself. A good conversation starter for me was to talk about the class we were in to break the ice. I also started being open minded. By initiating first, I made my first couple of friends which then led me to make more connections on campus through people they knew and introduced me to. This allowed me to communicate with people a lot easier because in the end we are all here for one purpose. Gaining an education, and making friends along the way, is part of that higher education journey and no one will judge you in doing so whether you are a commuter or not. It all starts with one friend, and of course it's easier said than done and that's okay. Trust me, you will get invited to parties too. It just will take time in getting to know the right people and having the right connections. It all starts off by making that one friend. One of the advantages of being that commuter student was that I could always use the excuse that I knew the area and knew all the great spots to grab something to eat and in doing so I made more friends. I guess you could call it my “friend pick up line,” but just being myself was enough.
Knowing that most of my highschool friends went away for college was tough too. They were the people that I knew I could go to and be myself. By not being able to see them everyday is a rough transition no one is ready for at first. And having to put yourself in front of someone new in college and not being able to express yourself fully is hard. I can assure you it will take time before you feel comfortable in front of new people; some people are quicker to adapt than others and that's okay too. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Go at your own pace and everything will eventually fall in place.
The best advice I can give to stay in touch with your highschool friends is just sending over a quick text that takes no longer than 10 seconds, asking how they are doing and what's new keeping them busy. It's very simple, short and to the point. No matter if they are commuting or dorming, I'm sure your friends are just as scared as you are to make new friends, and sending that text really goes a long way. For the ones that especially stay close by or in town, try reaching out to them and plan to hangout a couple times on the weekend when possible. Even though you may not be taking the same classes, you can try getting together with old friends to complete schoolwork. This continues to bridge the connection you’ve built and you can always incorporate your new friends in the mix. These small efforts allow relationships to stay connected and eventually it will be the new norm of keeping that friendship.
Overall, I may not have known much going into college and making friends was particularly one of the most daunting experiences. Yet don’t let that deter you. I cannot stress this enough, but having patience and being yourself are the most important aspects of new endeavors. I also encourage you to join a club, Greek life, or any other campus events that your college has to offer; these are one of the easiest ways to make new friends. And of course, always remember to go with the flow and have fun!