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7 Guidelines for Making Friendships at College

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Making new friendships can be excruciatingly awkward in the beginning. Regardless of whether or how socially adequate and outgoing a person is OR how introverted and uneasy they are, all have been stung with the uncomfortable experience of knowing no one.

How do you go from point A “knowing no one” to point B “having friends?” It’s not always simple and easy, but here are 7 basic guidelines that may help set a groundwork mentality and motivation for finding suitable friendships on campus.

Mindset

First, if you desire friendships, it is important to start out with the right mindset:

Guideline No. 1: Be Careful of the “Perfect Niche” Mentality

Often, we anticipate the type of friends we feel would be perfect to fit our needs. For instance, “I’m only going to find friends that dress this way or listen to this type of music.” Standards for the type of friends you want to have is good, but too many expectations, shallow expectations in particular, may cause you to isolate yourself, and make you appear to be arrogant and unfriendly—two things a reputation has a hard time shaking off.

In the end, understand that the perfect niche won’t necessarily be discovered until later on in the year and may not be what you anticipated.


Guideline No. 2: Stop With the Snap Judgments

It is very easy to come to conclusions based on what we see. Many argue that first impressions are everything. Unfortunately, many times that is true. People commonly come up with judgments on someone’s character, ability, talent, likability, intelligence, etc., from the moment that someone enters a room or utters a word. We all know within ourselves that there is more under the surface that meets the eye. Therefore, in the vein of “do unto others as you would do unto yourself,” when a judgment forms in the back of your mind about someone, always remember there is probably a LOT about that person that is interesting or likable.

College is the stage in life where you will come across many different walks of life, whereby, you lay aside shallow judgments by not allowing them to diminish your ability to be friendly or accessible.


Guideline No.3: Keep an Open Mind

Going along with the first two points, keeping an open mind doesn’t mean putting off your values for the sake of finding new friends. It means be prepared to experience the many, many different types of people and cultures the world has to offer that you have yet to be exposed to. It means celebrate and appreciate diversity through acceptance and love without casting aside who you are and the culture you cling to. The world becomes a more beautiful place, and you begin to develop a bigger heart for people when you tune your sights away from the proverbial “box.”

Action

Next, once you have the right mindset, put your desire to meet people into action.

Guideline No. 4: Do Not Isolate Yourself

I know an individual that, though they desire friendship, chooses to isolate themselves in their home and makes no effort or action to go out and participate in social activities. Thus, they have no friends.

Isolating yourself does nothing for your social life. As a freshman from Brandeis University wrote, “Keep your door open, cell phone off, and laptop closed." "…It’s amazing how you will meet people.”


Guideline No. 5: Search for Common Ground

The search for common ground generally starts with getting involved in extra-curricular activities of interest. It also helps to get to know people in your dorm just by basic small talk and socializing. For instance, you love the band Radiohead, and you see someone wearing a Radiohead t-shirt. You can now easily strike up a conversation about music or art. Voila! (It is also good to showcase your interests because you don’t know who else may share the same enthusiasm.)


Guideline No. 6: Don’t Press Too Hard

Over-zealousness or pressuring people to hang out with you, continuous phone calls or texts, being overly sensitive toward cancelled plans or botched expectations will cause people to keep their distance. Going into your first year at college, the last thing you want is a reputation as a “nag.” Have patience. People do not like to be hard pressed.


Guideline No. 7: Kindness, Love, Honesty & Integrity Reap the Biggest Reward

Fashion, talent, beauty, creativity, wealth, intelligence, whatever, are, without a doubt, the world’s popularity measuring stick, but no matter how much those things are wedged in our thinking, all people have the utmost desire to be unconditionally loved by someone or something. To that end, remember that friendships will come when you have built a reputation of being honest, kind, loving, and dependable. People will be drawn to you because of your disposition. They will trust and look up to you. They will lean on your advice because they see the strength in your character.

Friendships that involve unconditional love offer a bigger challenge and a higher price, but ultimately, there is a greater reward—longer lasting, invaluable friendships.


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