Welcome to college!
You are about to embark on a four-year journey of endless studying, late-night pizza runs, an unhealthy caffeine addiction, and memories to last a lifetime.
But what friends will you share those memories with, and how will you meet them?
If you’re an introvert, you may already be worried about the answer to those two questions. The good news is, you’re not the only one. Many introverts have walked those halls before you, and many will be walking with you during your college experience, as well.
Spoiler alert: we know you’re going to be just fine! But, to calm your nerves, here are some handy tips that all introverts should take advantage of in order to find friends in college.
Many resident hall assistants (RAs) create open-door policies during the first few weeks of college in order to increase community and encourage residents to socialize with each other. This entails that residents keep their doors open when they’re in the room, so hall mates can pop their heads in to make small talk when they walk by. To put it simply, an open-door policy is a tool to force friendships between you and your neighbors in the dorms.
This may not sound super appealing at first if you’re an introvert. However, the open-door structure can work to your benefit by giving you friendly faces to say hi to, and possibly long-lasting friends.
Open-door conversations can be awkward at first, so remind yourself that college is a new experience for everyone, and the other residents are most likely feeling the exact same way! Besides, it will be a lot more awkward if you go through the entire semester not knowing your hall mates' names.
If your hall doesn’t have an open door policy, ask your RA if you can create one, or keep your own door open and see who strolls in!
Unplug from devices
A huge no-no when it comes to meeting new people is to lock yourself in your dorm room with your Xbox or TV. While these devices may seem harmless, they take away from the face-to-face interactions and personal encounters that can be so important in the early days of college.
You won’t be able to make friends if you prioritize your relationship with your favorite TV characters above other students, so stay out of your dorm room and immerse yourself in campus life by walking around outside and participating in group activities as much as possible.
That isn’t to say that college students should never have access to TV or video games. For some, small doses of screen time can provide a much needed break from college chaos, and, if you’re an introvert, blocking out alone time can be necessary to replenish lost energy from social interactions.
However, it is important to know yourself, and think about if your TV usage is adding to or taking away from your college experience.
If you are unsure, you might want to leave your TV back home and revisit the issue later. With all the excitement college brings, from parties, to sports games, to keeping up with your studies, you most likely won’t be missing it.
Clubs and activities fair
A common myth is that “you can never be too involved in college.” However, at the beginning of the semester, it’s always a good idea to sign up for more activities than you actually want to keep up with. This will give you the flexibility to try out different clubs, and drop the ones you don’t like.
Putting your name on an email list or attending a few meetings will let you explore your interests and help you find friends who are similar to you. Even if you choose not to go back to an organization, you may want to keep in touch with some of the people you met there, so it’s in your best interest to try out as many activities as possible.
Continue the conversation!
It sounds silly, but every "hi" counts! Waving to the people you’ve met in your hall, on campus, or through different organizations (even if you don’t know their names!) will put you on their radar and give you a friendly face to talk to early on.
Initiating a conversation may feel scary at first, but chances are, if you don’t feel a little bit uncomfortable, you are not trying hard enough to make friends.
Think about it the other way around: Being acknowledged feels good, and chances are that person will wave to you the next time you pass, or see if you’re around to get lunch. Ultimately, getting to know your classmates on even a minimal level can help make connections and build relationships down the road.