According to the Department of Education, the out-of-state student population has nearly doubled since 1986. These students often feel out of place on college campuses far from home, especially when the majority of the student body is from that state. However, though they may not start school with an entire friend group already established, they can certainly build one by following these tips.
Take advantage of welcome week
Most college campuses offer a few days for new students to acquaint themselves with the university before classes start. Use this time to branch out and meet new people. Usually first-year students have yet to establish a group of friends this early on in the year, so they’ll be more open to hanging out with unfamiliar people. Many will be out-of-state students themselves and will be interested in hearing where you’ve come from and why you chose that school. Meeting new people can be stressful, but most are open to making friends once you get past the initial anxiety.
Get to know your dormmates
You’ll see the people in your dorm nearly every day. Frequent interaction like that allows friendships to form smoothly and organically. So leave your door open when you’re not studying, hang out in the lounge, and go where others are congregating.
Psychologically, most people accept that they’ll have to get along with their dormmates for at least that year. Dorms aren’t like classes you attend a few times a week with many different seats to choose from. Living arrangements like dorms are pretty much set in stone for months, so most people won’t erect the mental barriers to newcomers they might in other situations.
Plus, dorm relationships can be extremely useful in the future. Though you might not live together sophomore year, you may attend the same classes or join the same clubs. Having someone to sit next to, study with, or just gossip about your class with will make you feel more comfortable during stressful times.
The best friendships are built on similar values and interests. Clubs and organizations that align with your values and interests are the best way to meet people who share them. College life can be an extremely tough adjustment, so trying out new clubs can be stressful and sometimes seem unproductive. But if you can commit to just one or two, you’re all but guaranteed to meet new friends without sacrificing too much study time.
Student organizations are important for your future as well. Anyone applying for a job can tell you it’s not your grades that distinguish you from other applicants but the depth of your experiences. (And clubs are a heck of a lot more fun than classes anyway.)
Bottom line: the people you meet will make or break your college experience. College can be rough for everyone, especially out-of-state students. But if you take a step outside your comfort zone and take advantage of the resources your school provides, you’ll find plenty of friends await you.
Where have you met your best friends at college? Let us know in the comments!