I’ve been out of college for more than three years, but I still talk to my high school and college friends every day. In fact, some of the people I met at college are still my closest friends. Although six or seven people from my high school graduating class also went to the University of Georgia — certainly more familiar faces than most high school students will have joining their freshman college class — I still knew it was important to meet new people.
If I didn’t want to eat by myself at the dining hall, all I had to do was knock on a few doors.
While I easily could have chosen to stick with my old group of friends during my freshman year, I first started making new friends where most college freshmen should look: in the residence hall. My dorm was the perfect place for me to meet new people. Just down the hall were many different types of people for me to meet and spend time with. If I didn’t want to eat by myself at the dining hall, all I had to do was knock on a few doors. There was no reason for me to be scared about meeting new people. Most of these people were like me: new to the college lifestyle and just starting to figure out how to spend their daily life in college. Suddenly, there was never a dull moment after I was done with class, and I always had new friends at my disposal.
This isn’t to say that I started losing contact with my old high school friends who were also at UGA. I made it a point to spend as much time with them as I could. Even though most of us had completely different schedules and were living in very different places on and off the campus, we all were experiencing the same struggles to adapt to our new college lifestyle: balancing free time with studying and taking classes unlike anything we had ever had in high school, where we were just a face in a crowd of hundreds of students in a lecture hall. We could relate and support each other through our own discoveries. I even had the same experience with friends I only saw when I went home on holidays. Even though we were going to colleges of different types all around the United States, we were all adjusting to our new lives at school.
I started becoming more active on campus.
I began to cherish spending time with my friends from home, because I quickly found out that we would start going in very different directions as our college lives evolved. For example, one of my best friends since elementary school came along with me to UGA, but his interest in studying political science and law was a very different track in college than my interest in studying the arts and theater. While I spent a lot of time initially with some of his new friends that he had met through his political science classes, I found that I wasn’t nearly as interested in debating current events or engaging in political discussions as they were. I needed to find people who more closely shared my personal and professional interests.
I started becoming more active on campus. On Tuesday nights, I began meeting with people to play board and card games at a local gaming shop. I had always enjoyed playing games with friends on the weekends in high school, and this was the perfect way for me to meet college students and people from the local area who shared my interest. I also began auditioning for theater productions at the university to get involved with the Theatre Department as early as I could. Soon, I was acting in student- and university-run theatre productions, I was spending time between classes talking with people in the lounge in the theatre building, and I was the head of a student-run improv group on campus. I had more friends than I ever anticipated, and I couldn’t have been happier with how productive my college life had become. Even with less time in my day to study, my grades began improving because of how happy I was with how I was spending my time and who I had found to spend my time with at college.
Not all incoming college freshmen will find friends in the same places that I did or find friends as quickly, but if you keep reaching out to other students, you’ll soon have a network of people you enjoy spending time with. Remember to keep in touch with your high school friends as much as possible, look right outside your dorm room door to find other people looking for new friends, and discover people who share your interests to spend time with in and out of class.
College is just as much about succeeding outside of the classroom as it is about getting good grades. You’ll find friends who will help you feel comfortable in your own skin and improve personally and professionally. Four years later, you’ll be amazed by how many friends you met in college and how much you end up meaning to each other.
Truitt Broome is an ambassador with KnowHow2GO.
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