Transitioning to college is a big task. It’s a huge change from what you know, and as you go, you’ll be leaving behind the established network of friends you have back home. But don’t worry — college will be an amazing opportunity to build new ones! A big concern for incoming first years is how to get involved at college; how to start making those friendships that will last a lifetime and having those experiences you’ll never forget. Read on for some tips on how to do this and ensure you have that college experience you’ve always dreamed of.

Getting involved is all about being open to throwing yourself into opportunities that come your way. There’ll be so much going on, so many things to do, that you won’t be able to help meeting people. Remember: everyone’s in the same boat, everyone wants to make friends — so don’t be nervous, other people will be feeling just like you are! The best method is to say yes, try new things, and you’ll find you’re making friends and having fun before you know it.

There are many exciting new things to get involved with college. Whatever you like do in your free time, there will be an extra-curricular activity, group or society that will cover it. If your college has a Fair at the beginning of the year for these, then make sure to go! Often there’ll be an afternoon where all the societies have a stall, and you can walk through finding out what they’re all about. Sign up to whichever ones take your fancy! These activities are a great way to make a group of friends. Put your email down for as many as you like; you can always take yourself off the mailing list later when you’ve worked out what you want to focus on.

If you’re the sporty type, then there will be plenty of opportunities for this. Playing in a team is always a great way of getting involved. And don’t feel you need to be that good — even if you don’t make it to varsity level, there will be plenty of more casual college teams that you can sign up for, which will still mean you get to play without the pressure. It’s about having fun and meeting people, not needing to be the best.

If sports are not so much your thing, then there are plenty of other things on offer. If you’re musical, you’ll have chances to join bands, listening groups, orchestras. There will be arts on offer, drama groups, chess societies, hiking and climbing groups, a whole host of things. If you can name it, there’s a group that offers it. Be open to trying these out and you’ll get fully integrated into college life. Now is the time to try new things!

Of course, another key way to meet people will be through your living situation. You’ll likely have a roommate in your first year, who will be a key friend you’ll make early on. Then there will be plenty of people to meet in your dorm and in campus accommodation. Leave your door open, and chat to people who walk by. If you’re on a dining plan, then mealtimes will be ideal for meeting people too. There will also be college-wide events, and naturally, you will have your classes, which are a great way to learn in a social context, and to meet like-minded people.

As you can see, college will inundate you with opportunities to meet people. If you’re not going to class, you’ll be socializing in some capacity, and you’ll be having great fun while doing so. All these different opportunities will help you to expand your circles, and make friends with people from a whole range of contexts and backgrounds. In doing so, you will forge friendships and experiences you’ll hold with you forever.

About the Author: Stephen attended the University of Oxford, where he received his B.A. in Philosophy & French, followed by his MSt in Ancient Philosophy. For the past five years, Stephen has taught and mentored students from middle school through college in positions all over the world, from the UK to South Korea. He focuses on language and humanities instruction, coupled with intensive writing skills and college application coaching. His language studies saw him teach English for a year in southern France, as well as holding a technical translation position in Spanish in Barcelona. He has received formal training in mental health support, and has substantial experience working with students with anxiety and depression. Stephen is a warm and dynamic individual, who focuses on creating an open and engaging learning environment. He is currently based in the UK, where he enjoys reading, taking long walks, and playing the guitar and piano.