Freshman year has come and gone, and for many, it's a whirlwind. As a newcomer to your campus, you met a lot of people quickly and probably made many fast friends. Whether you're content with your current acquaintances or you’re feeling as though you haven’t quite found your niche, now that you're adjusted to your college lifestyle, you're probably feeling ready to make a variety of new friends and expand your social circle. This five-step guide shows you the most effective ways to make friends after freshman year using the social, professional and academic opportunities you get in college.
1. Go to Parties in Smaller Groups
As fun as it can be to kick it with a huge, wild crew, it’s probably not the most effective means to making lasting friendships. Instead, invite one or two girls from your dorm to join you at a party one weekend. "I was less intimidated by the social scene come sophomore year, and felt comfortable going out in smaller groups," says Allie Chase from Michigan State. “Its easier to look out for each other, and much less overwhelming, because when you aren’t struggling to remember names right off the bat, you take the time to get to know people more personally.”
Not only does keeping your going-out group small help you get to know who you’re partying with better, but it also makes it easier for you to meet even more new people at the party. “Everyone's loose and ready to have a good time, joke around, and connect, but only with approachable-looking people,” says Erin Fett, a recent grad of Colgate. Think about which group you’d feel most comfortable approaching: would it be a smaller circle, or a pack with too many people to count? The first one? We agree!
2. Join a Club Based on Your Career Path
Focusing on your GPA freshman year was a smart move, and now that you’ve set yourself up for success, Sharon L. Jones, the former Associate Director of Career Services at UNC-Chapel Hill, explains that “sophomore year is a good time to venture out and meet people with similar interests, explore careers, and build skills.”
Jones was also a former adviser to the student chapter of Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) at UNC-Chapel Hill, and she suggests that you look for clubs based on your current career goals, such as student chapters of professional associations, academic honorary societies in particular fields of study, and professional fraternities and sororities.These types of opportunities will not only prepare you for life after college, but will also introduce you to people with similar professional aspirations. Exeter University collegiette Lauren Hudson gained a great group of friends through her involvement with Her Campus Exeter as President and Editor-in-Chief. “Running the whole team has brought me closer to so many girls that I never would have met before,” she says. “These are girls in different year groups and girls who study completely different courses - it's been such a benefit of an already amazing position that I've been able to make so many great friends!”
3. Volunteer Your Time
Those of us who made our first pals selling Thin Mints and Samoas know that community service can be a great opportunity to make friends. Though nowadays, the old Girl Scout getup might only come out once a year (hello, Halloween!), there are endless opportunities to be an asset to your campus community year-round. Whether you choose to build affordable homes, pay visits to hospital patients, or groom puppies at an animal shelter, the key to meeting other students with similar skills and interests is to pick volunteer work that interests you.
Christina Hoover, an architecture student at Syracuse University, made some of her best friends when she joined the Freedom by Design team within the American Institute of Architecture Students. Freedom by Design is an organization that uses simple construction solutions to make living easier for those who are confined to their homes. Devoting this amount of time and effort to a cause they care about has allowed the members of FBD to “become more than just a team,” she says. “We’ve become close friends ready to work hard together, take breaks together, and laugh together. Its a one-of-a-kind experience.” Not to mention, volunteering looks impressive on a resume!
4. Take on a Leadership Role in Your Club
Many people take freshman year to explore their interests, and we all know an easy way to do that is through the clubs offered on campus. Whether you’ve been involved in several activities or have been totally devoted to one, you now know the ropes, and can help others get on your level by taking on a leadership position.
Erica Choo, president of the Wellesley Class of 2014 Council, says she ran for her position because she wanted to become more involved on campus. “Since becoming president my junior year, I have met so many incredible people that I probably would not have had the chance to interact with otherwise,” she says.
Through her role of bringing the class closer together with social events and fundraisers, she has organized events that helped others make friends and allowed her to do the same along the way. “On council, I met a girl who I had seen around campus before but never really talked to a whole lot,” she says. “We organized a study break tailgate together outside of the dorms for everyone in our class, popped the trunks of our cars, and blasted the radio so loud that I’m sure you could hear the music all the way from the other end of campus. It was a really great way to meet new people and bond with other girls in our class, and through working together on class council, she has truly become one of my best friends at school.”
5. Study Socially
While Erica’s wild study break tailgate has us easily convinced that taking a breather from the books can be a fantastic way to make friends, we can only wish it was possible to take a study breaks without the aforementioned studying. When its time to buckle down, organizing a study group is a great way to stay on top of your work with a built-in excuse to hang out with the people you’re working with. Invite people in your classes to whom you haven’t talked much to meet up and prep for a midterm together. And since we can’t always rely on revved engines and blasting beats to stay social on study breaks, recent Boston University graduate Mary Danielewski shares a tip for breaking the ice with study partners: “I like to let classmates I don’t know as well choose dinner spots and coffee shops,” she says. “It puts them in their comfort zone, and introduced me to some great new hangouts!”
As you prepare for another year of fun and friend-making, the most important thing is to keep an open mind. Remember that sometimes the best things, including friends, can be found when you aren’t even looking!