Breathe a deep sigh of relief and call up your parents, because you won’t be alone fall 2k17! Finding friends at college may be a daunting task, but Spectrum is here to help you if you’re concerned.
The image of flying friendless that first semester is a natural fear for many. But even if you roll up to the 116th Street gates knowing absolutely no one (as the majority of your classmates will), you won’t stay that way for long!
The New Student Orientation Program might be only 62 days from now, but to calm your nerves so you can actually enjoy the summer, we’ve compiled a list of things that helped us find our first college friends before, during, and after NSOP.
If you want it to, the search for your new super squad can begin now* from your home laptop.
* If your MO is more like, “Summertime 👏 can’t 👏 be 👏 bothered 👏 with 👏 homework,” skip to the next section. Or not. These next few paragraphs should only take you three minutes tops to read, will give suggestions that require minimal effort, and might actually help you out.
Strategy #1: Don’t fear the Facebook group
You’re no stranger to the wonderful and connective powers of the Internet. You should already be a member of your respective college’s Facebook class page. Every now and again, scroll through the most recent posts to see who has introduced themselves or what questions people are asking. Why not introduce yourself to your future classmates and see who shares your interests?
The only issue with the Facebook groups is that there’s a lot of activity, so posts often get lost. When you’re combing through the recent posts, make sure to keep an eye out for ones that talk about your interests, add your own comment, and see if you can find the other people who commented during NSOP.
Strategy #2: Know thy roomie
We wrote an entire article on how you can set up boundaries with your new roommate while still befriending them. Your roommate will likely be the first person you talk to at college and a natural first friend, so make sure you brush up on the roommate tips we’ve given you.
For all the people doing random roommate selection, you shouldn’t wait until the day before NSOP to contact the person you’ll be living with. Be proactive and really try to get to know them, even if you’re only communicating over email or a phone call every now and again. Ask them questions about their lives and their interests, talk about whatever similarities you have, and make concrete plans to spend time with one another (example: “Oh, you like [insert niche thing here]? Me too, let’s go do [event related to aforementioned niche thing].”
Strategy #3: Hit ‘reply all’
A few weeks before NSOP, you’ll generally get two group emails: One to your orientation group, and one to the people living on your floor. Your orientation leader and resident adviser will introduce themselves and ask you to do the same. They’ll probably ask you to answer with “reply all,” so your fellow OL group members or future floormates can get to know you, too.
Replying to the whole group is far from spamming: If you mention something interesting, chances are, someone else in the group will share your interest. Be the person who starts a cool conversation beyond the boring initial questions.
If you’ve followed these first three strategies, you should be able to turn up in MoHi with at least one familiar face to look for. (And if you skipped the previous section like we knew some of you would, maybe now would be a good time to go back to figure out what we’re talking about.)
But let’s say you’re really ambitious and want to find even more confidants. What’s a student to do when they’re bogged down with so many mandatory NSOP events?
Strategy #4: Orientation squad
Let’s be real: Your closest NSOP friends are likely to be the people in your orientation group. It takes a lot of courage to approach a random stranger you thought looked nice on College Walk and ask, “Hi, would you like to be my friend?” but since you’re forced to hang out with the people in your orientation group, suddenly the proposition of friendship seems less strange.
Strategy #5: So many choices, so little time…
There are a ton of mandatory events that you’ll have to attend with your orientation group, but these aren’t really conducive to friendship formation because they’re largely informative. Fortunately, the NSOP planning committee has several events (such as neighborhood tours) that are more social, so you can plan to spend with the people you met during orientation.
At the same time, don’t feel like you have to go to every event listed in your NSOP handbook. One of the biggest complaints people have about orientation week in hindsight is how exhausting it was. If you’d rather just hang back on campus and take it easy, you don’t have to sit in your room all by yourself—see if there’s anyone from your group or in your residence hall who wants to hang out.
Strategy #6: Crowdsourcing
When in doubt, whip out the old, trusty Facebook. Bookmark your class page and this new Facebook group called Plus One @CU. If you haven’t hit it off with any of your orientation or floor mates and there’s an event you desperately want to go to—part of the NSOP calendar or otherwise—just post in this group or your class page to see if anyone wants to tag along. If you post about it, we doubt you’ll have any trouble finding someone to hang out with.
Strategy #7: Clubs ‘n’ classes
Many people at Columbia rely on two environments to make lasting friendships: clubs and classes. Why? With the former, you have a mutual interest that you can bond over. With the latter, you have a mutual antagonist whom you can complain about.
With extracurriculars, it’s easy: Pair up with the other first-years who joined the club (they’re more likely to be just as nervous as you). Small-group classes like Lit Hum or First Year Writing/Seminar, discussion sections, and labs are good options because of the frequent (and enforced) group work and open discussions. It’s a bit harder to make friends in large lecture classes, but it can be done; here’s how.
Strategy #8: Operation Keep NSOP Alive
When you get to MoHi, one of the first truths universally acknowledged is that NSOP friendships never last past Labor Day. But if you’re willing to put in a little effort, NSOP friendships are not impossible to keep.
During NSOP, your OL will want to set up a group text so you can figure out where to meet for certain events. This will force you to add everyone’s number to your phone. If a couple of weeks have gone by and you realize you haven’t spoken to the people you were closest to in your OL group, don’t be afraid to shoot them a text and meet up for a dining hall meal (yes, you’ll be there often to use up your swipes).These people don’t have to be your best friends, nor do you have to stay close with them for all four years that you’re here, but in those first couple months when your friend group is smaller than normal and you’re still navigating the social waters, having a go-to name that you can call on to grab a meal with is infinitely helpful.
So there you have it: eight fool-proof (and relatively simple and natural) methods to finding a friend before, during, and after NSOP. Try these and you’re bound to start classes with a bunch of great new friends in your new home.
- Like we said, you’ll want to get on your roomie’s good side. Here’s how you should go about it.
- Obviously you’ll need friends here, but make sure you keep in touch with your old friends, too. Here’s how you can keep your hometown friend/relationships strong when everyone’s moving away.
Veronica Grace Taleon is Spectrum’s editor and a Barnard junior. “Reply all” is a social anomaly except in the case of friend-finding, where it’s perfectly acceptable. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.