Finding a community in which you feel comfortable is one of the most important things you can do, not just in college but for the rest of your life. The friends you make in college have the potential to be your lifelong friends, and your college will do everything it can to help you make them. There will be countless gatherings, events, dinners, and meetings that will give you opportunity to meet so many different people. There will be roommates or suitemates, classmates, and way too many different campus organizations to join. Even though there are so many different opportunities to find friends, it’s important to be proactive. Attend the activities, invite people to dinner, start your own club. The great thing about college is that everyone starts out feeling nervous, uncertain, and maybe homesick at times, and it’s totally okay and normal to feel that way. That being said, the sooner you go out and make some friends, the more comfortable you’ll be at college, and the more fun you’ll have!
Universities are full of people with all sorts of interests and hobbies. You’ll find lots of clubs based around things you might expect—like political parties—and clubs based around things you didn’t know were even things—like underwater basket weaving. Explore! Go join clubs and meet people who are doing and thinking about things in which you have an interest. Go join clubs and meet people who are doing and thinking about things you’ve never done or thought about! You will never have exposure to a wider variety of interesting ideas and activities than you will during college, so check things out and get involved in a few things you really like. There will be times when college doesn’t seem as fun as everyone makes it out to be (e.g., exam weeks) and during those times it’s your extracurriculars and the friends you’ve made doing them that will get you through the drudgery.
College is your chance to build a foundation for your career and, while that is important, college is also four years of your life. You need to have fun, too! Make an effort to take advantage of some of the things that are unique to that stage of life. Consider joining an intramural sports team to get some exercise, unwind at the end of the day, and meet new people. Check out your school’s newspaper or talk to your friends about events going on around campus: there are often free concerts or weekend festivals. Beg your parents to pay for you (or get a job?) to study abroad, and pick a country you’re really excited about. When someone asks you to get a milkshake at 1 AM or go on a spontaneous road trip, DO IT. Take advantage of the random, fun parts of college.
Explore Your Options
One of your most important jobs during college will be figuring out how to spend the rest of your life. You may have an idea already of what you want to study or what kind of career you want to pursue. College is your chance to test out these interests with very little at risk. College is the best time to figure out that the career you always planned isn’t the right fit for you because you will have ample opportunity to explore other things. You may want to consider taking a broad array of classes, especially early on in college, and exploring a number of different interests in order to give yourself exposure to a few different things before committing to a major or a career path. Finally, even once you have decided, you will need a certain number of credit hours to graduate. Most of these will be filled with courses you will be required to take, but there is always room for a few other subjects as well. Take some classes that interest you but have nothing to do with your career. Maybe you’re going to be an engineer but always thought photography was cool; find a class and enjoy!