It’s November of your first year of college.  You may already be partying, making great friends, and generally having a blast.  Or, if you’re like me, it’s taking you a little longer to find yourself in this newfound place and with all of this freedom.  That’s completely normal!  The good news is you have me here to help you really make the most out of your first year, and your entire time in college.

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Making the most of your college experience requires stepping out and trying new things.  I urge you to try a wide variety of experiences to find what works best for you.  In doing so, I guarantee you’ll have fun, find something you love, and make some friends you’ll have forever.

Don’t be afraid to ‘go it alone.’   

I’m going to start off with the one piece of advice I myself had the hardest time following, but also, in hindsight, what I consider the most beneficial.  In college, it will likely be the first time you’ve had to restart a friend group.  If you’re lucky, you’ll know a few other people from your high school who ended up in the same place.  But they won’t necessarily be people you spent a lot of time with.  You’ll have to get used to trying new things on your own.  Don’t be afraid to try something if no one else wants to go.  If it’s something you really love–a photography class or that role-playing game club–go on your own, and you’ll probably meet people with the same interests as you!  And all of sudden, you won’t be alone anymore.  Besides, some of the best experiences happen when you’re alone.

Try new things.  

I  feel like this advice is cliché, but clichés are just true things that people are tired of being true, so let’s go with it.  College is a time to really find yourself; it’s a time to figure out who you are, and the person you want to be.  The best way to do that is to try something new.  Never been interested in reading but want to be?  Find a book club!  There are so many that could align with your exact interests–I’ve found a Gilmore Girls book club since moving to New York!

Try ALL the things.  

As the meme goes–try ALL THE THINGS!  Following up on my previous advice, don’t just try one new thing, try as many as you can!  Go to the weird show, watch the play in the basement of your dorm, try the sword-fighting class on the quad, rush a sorority–whatever it takes to find what you love and connect with people.  Whether it’s something new, or something you already know you love, trying a variety of activities is one of the best ways to connect with other people.  You might not enjoy everything you try, but that’s okay.  You could find someone who hates whatever you’re trying just as much as you do, and create a friendship out of that story!  Either way, trying new things and putting yourself out there can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.

Get into sports.  

Listen, I know not everybody is into sports.  But there are about eight thousand different sports you can check out in college: swim team, diving, polo, tennis, volleyball, baseball, softball, football, basketball–the list goes on and on.  Finding one that you enjoy, and a group of people to cheer with, could be  one of the best things that happens to you in college.  It was for me!  Bonding with new people over sports can form lifelong and rewarding friendships.

Trying a variety of activities is one of the best ways to connect with other people.

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Take advantage of the natural ways to make friends.  

This one is simple–there are a few built-in ways to make friends in college: work, class, and living with  roommate(s).  First, if you have the opportunity, get a job in college.  Work in your dorm room, check out the bookstore, or try local restaurants.  You’ll form a  natural bond with the people you spend a lot of time with, including those at your job or in your classes.  And of course, you’ve got the possibility of a de facto friend in your roommate.  While not everyone will automatically get along with their roommate, the opportunity to learn more about another person, someone with a different background or different interests, is one of the great advantages of college.  While you may not get as lucky as I did, and make a lifelong friend out of your roommate, you can at least find someone to grab a meal with or try something new with, to make it a little easier to try those new things I suggested.

Overall, college can be an absolute ball.  There will be a lot of trial and error in your college experience, but eventually you’ll find something you love, and you’ll make great friends doing so.  Don’t be afraid of the new things.  Don’t be afraid of going it alone, and don’t be afraid of trying as much as you can until something feels right.  If you do it right, you’ll have a lot of fun, even in the activities that don’t end up being the right fit for you.  And when it’s all said and done, you’ll look back at that first year and be thankful for the friends you made and the experiences you had.  Hopefully you can relive those memories with the friends you made for many years to come, too.

 

Courtnie is a licensed attorney, and the Member Engagement Manager at WeWork. She’s a Chicagoan in New York City, with a deep love for live music, sports, and craft beer. With her husband of 3 years, Courtnie is raising 2 fur-babies and finding her path in life.

 

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