10 Reasons You’re Not Making Friends Freshman Year

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You entered the college world bright eyed and busy tailed. Then you realize, I have few to no friends. Yes, maybe you know someone you sat across from in high school. Or maybe you managed to wind up at the same place as your elementary school BFF. You’ve begun a new era, so it’s time to expand your social circles. Or you can always stay in and binge on Narcos season 2 instead.

1. You Stay Glued to Your Phone.

Yes, those three minutes sitting waiting for a class can be awkward (they never get easier), but if you want to meet people, don’t duck your head and check your phone. “One of the best ways to meet people who will stay friends with throughout college is to find people to talk to with common interests and experiences. If you are suffering in a class with someone, that is such an easy way to make long lasting friends,” said University of Virginia senior Marcus Schmidt. “You don’t have to be an extravert, but unfortunately, you do have to talk to people.” So instead of shooting a text to your mom saying, “College is great so far,” try talking to the person next to you.

2. You Keep Your Door Permanently Closed.

One of the easiest places to find friends? Your first year hall. Dorms provided us with doorstops our first year to help us discover the best way to meet people: Jump in on plans you hear forming right outside your room. Or, keep your door open so when people get back from class they can pop their head in, say hey and complain that they already have readings on the first day of class. At the risk of being a total cheese-ball: Open doors lead to opportunities.

3. You Eat Alone.

Don’t do that! Piggy-backing on other dorm-mates dinner plans provides the perfect excuse to get to know them, meet people they know and expand your friendship circles. Make a GroupMe for your hall that people can send messages to when they set off to the dining hall. You can also scope out the tables and find someone you recognize from a class. Join their table and you’ll also find someone to sit next to on Monday when you slink into your English writing requirement class at 9 a.m.

4. You Wear Freshman Garb.

Sometimes you just don’t want the first thought in someone’s mind to be “freshman,” before you’ve even opened your mouth. “I expect them to wear FSU everything; garnet shorts and a big Florida State shirt and a baseball cap with the FSU logo,” Florida State University junior Lauren Gottfreid said. Yes, they’re great t-shirts, but they’ll look even better next year when they don’t mark you as the youngest kid in the school. Especially if you want to win over upperclassmen. Show off your winning personality and then drop the freshman bomb. Other clothing articles to avoid: wearing a lanyard around your neck or hanging out of your pocket. “I see most freshmen wearing FSU lanyards with their FSU card holder, their keys and pepper spray,” Florida State University junior Shany Freund said. I mean, c’mon.

5. You Never Leave Your Room.

The most interesting place to meet people in college is not the internet (that’s for junior year when you’re desperately lonely and afraid you’ll never find love). Right now is your time to shine! Everyone wants to meet people by going to events and activities. One of the easiest times to make friends is your first year because half of the other first years feel just as desperate as you to find someone. “[Get] out there! It can be really tempting to stay in your room and Skype your old high school friends, but then you’ll miss out on all the bonding that goes on while getting lost trying to find the dining hall or the right bus route with the other freshmen,” UC Santa Barbara senior Sophia Santos said.

6. You Skipped the Activities Fair.

Maybe the 90 degree heat tears you down and you’re too cool to shop for clubs, but clubs equip you with one of the best ways to find friends. “I’d say that the best way to meet people outside of your dorm is to get involved in CIOs—sports, theater, you name it—because it’s an easy way to find others with shared interests,” University of Virginia alumnus Tom Hische said. If you have a niche interest, don’t turn away from mainstream welcome week events like the activities fair. Most likely, someone else already created the knitting club or video game club. You want it, you can find it and even if you can’t find it, you can probably find the support to build the group yourself.

7. You’re Just Not Ready Yet.

Moving to college is a lot, and it all hits you at once. Maybe you aren’t ready to hit up the first party or club that comes your way. Or maybe the thought of eating dinner with 10-20 other girls or boys completely overwhelms you. Instead of going to the info session for a new club, get on their listserve and go to the first meeting. It will be much more intimate and you’ll get a chance to meet people already involved who can tell you all about it.

8. You Don’t Live on Campus.

Just because you don’t share the dorm experience doesn’t mean you need to go through college alone. Going to clubs and meeting people in class to become your study buddy is the perfect way to build friendships. Even if you eat most of your meals at home, you can also buy the smallest meal plan, just for your first semester. Then you can bond on dining hall dinners (or lunches). Figure out what works for you and start building friendship circles. Before you know it, you’ll be sleeping on a friend’s floor after a night of party hopping.

9. You Put Too Much Pressure on Yourself.

You just moved in—give yourself some time to settle. “Don’t try to over-commit to all of those organizations [from the activities fair]. You don’t need to get involved in every project to make your friends for the next four years,” Hische said. It’s not all about finding all your friends right this second, it’s about hanging out with people you enjoy and letting acquaintances build into friendships.

10. You Say Yes to TOO Much.

Maybe you’ve done all these things. Gone to the activities fair, talked to people in your classes and still nothing’s really stuck. That’s okay! “I think being a first year is a weird mix of leaving your comfort zone and finding it,” said Skidmore College senior Luca Mobilia. “[Even] though you’re scared to put yourself out there, it’s the only way to find people who love you for who you are; don’t make ‘friends’ who try and change too much about you.” In the end, you want to find people that you deeply click with, not just people you feel like you have to laugh about how drunk you got last night with, when you were actually color-coding your schedule and FaceTiming your friend from home.

Kristen is a Senior (or fourth year, as we call them!) at the University of Virginia, studying Art History and Media Studies. She loves modern art, walking around New York and fancy cheese.

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