The number one thing students e-mail me about is how to make friends in college. While some people may think students should be worried about other things - I get it completely.
The first section of my book is literally about how to make friends in college and why having a supportive and positive peer group is so important to your college success.
We all need those positive social connections; I've read tons of research that proves just how much we actually need each other. And social media is not enough.
So inspired by all the heartfelt e-mails I receive from community college students around the world who are anxious about making friends in college, this is for you.
You'll note none of the ideas below includes "wait around for someone to invite you to something." This is about taking action, being bold, and taking full ownership of your entire college experience. You can do this.
50 Ways to Make Friends in Community College
1. Join an intramural sports team (or start one)
2. Start a study group for a big test
3. Join a club
4. Start a club
5. Ask someone in class for help
6. Compliment someone in your class
7. Pass around a piece of paper asking for basic contact info from anyone who wants to be a part of a study group (or send a group e-mail if you have access to that)
8. Plan something fun to do after a group project meeting (e.g. don't leave after the work is done - invite people to do something else after, even if just a meal; or plan a celebratory outing once you turn in your project)
9. Get comfortable with rejection: making new friends requires boldness, courage, and effort. Keep asking and inviting and don't take it personally if no one shows up. It doesn't say ANYTHING about you. People get stuck in their routines and it's hard for them to break out. Keep asking and eventually you'll find people you really click with.
10. Be bold and ask your classmates to connect with you on social media; instead of just commenting on their pictures online, make comments in person before/after class to start conversations (just don't be stalkerish...)
11. Get a part time job at the college that involves meeting/helping students
12. Go to tutoring or become a tutor
13. JOIN A CLUB
14. Study abroad
15. Go to ANY kind of conference or trip that your college offers
16. Join an honors or other specialty program (see if there is a Phi Theta Kappa chapter on your campus!)
17. Sit somewhere else in class if the people around you aren't very talkative/friendly
18. Don't be afraid to (kindly) jump into conversations you hear around you (nothing personal, of course, but when others are discussing general topics)
19. Start conversations in class about random topics of the day (e.g. what's trending on twitter, the latest goofy video, pop culture, news, etc.). Just ask "hey has anyone seen/heard....?" And watch what happens. (My fav way to quickly get the news each day is the Skimm.)
20. Ask a question of the whole class to get conversation going
21. Be the smartest person in the room (e.g.if you always go above and beyond in your classes people will quickly recognize it and ask you for help)
22. JOIN A CLUB
23. If you can, commit to being on campus all day for at least two full days so you have plenty of time to schedule hangouts and go to club meetings. To make friends you have to be willing to make time.
24. Do your homework ahead of time so you have plenty of time to socialize
25. Form a consistent study group that meets weekly to do homework together and hang out (be the organizer, book a study room with the library or scope out a good place on campus) *but of course still study on your own; study groups should be more for reviewing information and hanging out
26. Volunteer at a local organization you care about. Making friends in college doesn't always have to mean your friends have to be in college too. Get involved in your community and socialize that way; I also recently read that giving social support to others is actually even more beneficial than receiving it.
27. Sign up for a peer mentor program (see if your college has one; if not - start one!)
28. Be a peer mentor
29. Invite five people on your social media out to lunch/coffee (or whatever your thing is) each week (usually only one will actually work out each week, so it's best to ask a lot of people).
30. See if your college has a game room and hang out there (lots of friends were made around the pool table at my community college)
31. Visit your student life office and ask about clubs as well as other events and opportunities. Go to EVERY one you can and see what clicks.
32. E-mail the student life office right away and find out when Club Recruitment is so you don't miss it (this is when clubs set up tables to recruit new members). Go to this each semester and talk to every table until you find the people or organization you click with.
33. Join as many clubs and attend as many events as you can the first semester. Get involved, go to events, help out wherever possible. Then decide which one you really want to commit to wholeheartedly and become an officer.
34. Start an event or initiative on your campus. Like-minded people will follow.
35. Start or join a book club
36. If you can afford it, move out of your parents house and re-create the dorm experience by getting an apartment with some roommates near campus
37. Don't be afraid to hang out with "old" friends IF they're still good friends. You should branch out and make new friends in college, but it doesn't mean high school friends should be tossed aside just because they're "old" friends. DO distance yourself from any friends, high school or college, who are bad influences. Focus on hanging out with people who encourage you, believe in your college/career dreams, and genuinely want the best for you.
38. Resist the comfort of your phone. Turn it off before class and make conversation instead. Nothing says "I'm not interested in making friends" more than being on your phone, even if of course that's not the message you're trying to send. It usually means "this feels awkward so I'm going to be on my phone." Embrace the awkward and make friends in class.
39. Join a club
40. Join a club
41. Join a club
42. Join a club
43. Join a club
44. Join a club
45. Join a club
46. Join a club
47. Join a club
48. Join a club
49. Join a club
50. Join a club
Most colleges realize that socialization is important. That is why clubs exist at every college! It is by far the easiest and best way to make friends in college.
You'd also be surprised at the leadership skills you already possess - if you don't see what you're looking for don't be afraid to start something new. There are most likely other people looking for the same thing.
Choose your friends wisely and surround yourself with people who want to do well in school.
Join clubs that seem fun, and then have fun! If you focus on having a great time in college, doing things you enjoy, and prioritizing your success, you'll find yourself with a wealth of opportunities and surrounded by some pretty outstanding people.
Be brave. Be bold. Start things. Invite people. Keep trying. And remember that most of the people you talk to will be so grateful that you reached out to them.
For more advice on making friends in college and building the kind of college community necessary for success, check out my book Community College Success. :)