Many people will tell you that college is a gold mine for making lifelong friends. Obviously the experience is different for everyone, but from my point of view, I have never been more socially healthy and happy than I am in my first semester of college.
However, I still find myself calling my mom for advice and Christmas present ideas for my friends. Moms always somehow have that sixth sense of knowing exactly what we need, so I asked a handful of smart and savvy ladies what they think the major keys of friend-making in college are.
Let the Gilmore Girls-inspired montage begin!
1. You do you.
"Be yourself. You'll attract the best friends by being who you are, naturally. Don't be fake or try too hard. The best friends are those who love your quirky side and your crabby side, and all your sides. You don't need a lot of friends, either. Just the right ones." — Lisa, Mom of a Metropolitan Community College student
She's right! Everyone that truly loves me loves me with all my bad cooking and crabby mornings combined. And fake friends are the #1 reason Kanye canceled his tour, so don't be that person.
2. Get involved.
"I met friends on my floor, and my RA was awesome in getting us to know each other with get-togethers and activities. I quickly learned that, in order to make it, I needed to be a people-watcher and ask questions. Get involved in an organization or club with a common interest. Get off your phones and have real conversations. Write letters and send snail mail." — Ann, Mom of a Buena Vista University student and a Metropolitan Community College student
I, too, am I big fan of sending letters. I have made many friends by becoming pen pals, as well as getting close with my roommates. Sometimes the people who are "our people" are the ones right in front of us. If you want a good pen pal, I suggest reaching out to your friends on social media and exchanging addresses. The options are endless.
3. Put in effort.
"Some kids have to intrinsically push themselves to socialize. Ask your communication partner lots of questions and act interested in what they have to say. Be warm and inviting and remember names and facts about others. Become involved with anything that would get you around peers." — Julie, Mom of a University of Nebraska, Omaha student
Have you ever heard of the tip to smile until you're happy? Socialize and try until it falls into place! Sometimes it takes a little extra push to become friends with people, especially if you have social anxiety, or simply have trouble maintaining friendships. However, all the effort is worth it, and the people who will become your friends will find your dedication endearing and kind.
4. Be open.
"Freshman year was a bit tricky in the very beginning, but it wasn't long before I met friends who were in my classes. Just talking and being open is what got me there, and pretty soon those friends introduced me to others and it was great! That's the advice I gave my kids, too. It's great when you connect with someone and have a friend for life." — Cathy, Mom of a Mercy College student and a Manhattan College student
Openness is a big factor in connecting with others. Although high school may have been different or you've had bad experiences or trust issues, college is a new start. In fact, every day is a new start, and a fresh perspective will make all the difference.
5. Choose well.
"I talked to people in my classes, so we were interested in the same things. Once I befriended them, I started meeting others and finding who was right for me then. My advice is to follow your passion, listen to others, be open to new experiences, but still make good choices. And surround yourself with people who make good choices, too." — Grace, Mom of a University of Nebraska, Omaha student
Whether that means how you spend your weekends or simply how you choose to spend your time taking care of yourself and maintaining your relationships, choices are the driving force behind college. So follow your heart and know what's right.
6. Know you are not alone.
"Everyone is feeling as alone and as scared as you are though they may be hiding the feelings more than you can sometimes. But try to step out of yourself and reach out in a friendly way and just notice how quickly others reach out, too. You can make it a goal-oriented thing, too. Say 'today I'm going to say hi to three people as I walk to class, or something along those lines." — Kay, Mom of a Simpson College Student and a University of Nebraska student
This is so true. It's hard to remind ourselves that everyone is in the same boat. Find people you like and make them your people. Know that everything takes time, but what's meant to be will be.
After all, moms are right about everything.
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