Everyone knows while college life is mainly about acquiring an education in a
specific field of study and preparing yourself for the real world, the social aspect of college is extremely significant to students as well. As the saying goes, college is the time of your life, the time you will meet your ‘forever friends’ and develop strong bonds with people of all kinds.
Although making friends can be a seemingly easy task, there are a few things to bear in mind when it comes to scouting out your lifelong relationships.

DO let your friends introduce you to new things. It’s human nature to be drawn to people who we share similar interests with, which can make it difficult to step out of our comfort zone and try new things. If you happen to meet someone you seem to get along well with, but don’t share similar interests with, don’t shut them
out just yet. This could be an opportunity for you to get introduced to a new concept, activity or idea. For example, I met a girl during SOAR and coincidentally sat with her during my first class of my freshman year and she is now my very best friend. She is completely enamored with all things NASCAR, which I knew absolutely nothing about and previously had no interest in. However, because of her love for NASCAR and my love for her, I am slowly but surely finding interest in the racing world.

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DO keep an open mind when it comes to befriending new people. Luckily, college is different from high school in the idea that ‘cliques’ no longer exists and everyone sort of intermingles with one another. This can be a tricky transition to make if you’re used to belonging to one particular group of people and you find yourself in a sea of variety on a college campus. Society tells us time and time again we must find a place to fit in and stay there. However, I find that getting involved with students of different ethnicities, organizations and personalities is invigorating and can make for an overall better college experience.

DO set aside time for yourself. Making new connections with new people is exciting and necessary in order for our social needs to be fulfilled, but taking care of yourself should always come first. Sometimes we just need breaks from the outside world and everyone deserves to indulge in themselves and be at peace simply sitting in a room alone, doing something they enjoy. Sure, most of our free time is going to be taken up by homework and our beloved friends… just make sure you save some time, energy and love to keep to yourself, too.

DON’T feel pressured to do everything your friends do. Spending time with friends can be a form of relaxation and entertainment, but can also take up a lot of time. As college students, schedules are often packed with classes, homework and even jobs. Finding time to catch a movie with your roommates or grab coffee with your best friend can be challenging sometimes. If you’re like me and get stuck in ‘school mode’ during weekdays, making the most of your free time by completing assignments is always your first priority. However, it’s easy to get off track when your friends tempt you to join them for ice cream the night before your 8 a.m. exam or a few hours before an assignment is due. You love your friends and they know that. If they love you back, they’ll understand when you have to stay behind and take care of other things from time to time.

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DON’T limit yourself to a specific ‘type’. This is challenging. People like people that are most similar to them. Sometimes people even choose to befriend certain groups in hopes of eventually fitting their mold and becoming ‘one of them’. Girls involved in sororities are friends with others in sororities. Students that have a strong Christian faith befriend those who share their religion. Athletic students typically hang around members of their team or other athletes they may meet in the gym. This is a natural occurrence in most of our lives and often we don’t realize that we are, in a sense, excluding ourselves from other groups. Rather than picking a ‘type’ of person, whether it’s by their looks, their belief or their interests, choose to interact with people that challenge you and add to your life.

DON’T be afraid to strike up a conversation with a random person. If someone on campus catches your eye, or you overhear a conversation that you are dying to join—have no fear, go say hey! In some situations, this may be considered a little bold, maybe weird, but chances are you may end up walking away with a new friend. If ‘outgoing’ is not in your list of personality characteristics, try simply turning to the person next to you in class and saying hello or sharing smiles with someone you encounter on campus. Besides, something as little as a smile can be the start of a lifelong friendship.