Whether you’re just beginning your college career as an incoming freshman or you’re approaching the finish line as a senior, it’s never too late to make new friends. And I promise it’s not as scary as it seems. Sure it’s easy to make friends with those you’re geographically close to on campus like your roommates or floor mates, but here I am to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and expand your social circle.
Why bother, you ask. Well, take is from Elizabeth Bernstein of the Wall Street Journal who says, “A body of research shows that people with solid friendships live healthier, longer lives. Friendship decreases blood pressure and stress, reduces the risk of depression and increases longevity, in large part because someone is watching out for us”. If that’s not enough to convince you, psychology Professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Ph.D. of Brigham Young University, did a study that concluded that a lack of social support predicts all causes of death. Holt-Lunstad’s conclusions suggested that having few social ties is more dangerous than obesity and the equivalent in health risks to smoking fifteen cigarettes a day.
So yeah, friends are important. Get uncomfortable, say hi to that cute guy on the bus, or the quiet girl in your philosophy class. Discomfort is where change begins and I promise you’ll thank me later.
Here are 4 ways you can make new friends in college and hopefully some meaningful, long-lasting connections along the way .
Join student clubs and organizations that you are genuinely interested in.
Chances are, if you join student organizations that you have a genuine interest in being a member of, you will meet like-minded people who share similar interests and passions. By staying involved in community activities, you develop a greater sense of unity and purpose which studies show contributes to overall mental health and happiness. Similarly, being part of a student club is a great way to break away from the stresses of academic work and pursue activities that you’re passionate about.
Pay attention to your body language.
Scientific studies show that people who exhibit friendly body language are more likely to make friends. By keeping your torso open and facing the person you are addressing, people feel that you are more mentally open which makes them more likely to engage in conversation that is genuine and honest. Similarly, people who keep their hands visible to others are considered to be more trustworthy and that maintaining constant eye contact is likely to increase feelings of affection between both people – it’s that simple.
Learn the art of conversation.
Have honest conversations with people. Empathy forges bonds. When you really listen to people, it shows the ability to connect emotionally which is an important quality in building the grounds for a relationship. At the same time, learn how to small talk gracefully. Though as easy as it is to talk about the weather, aim to ask interesting questions and listen to answers. Share something about yourself, then give space for the other person open up. Mutually sharing information lays the groundwork for openness and trust in friendships.
No one likes a flake. By participating in activities consistently, you are allowing the opportunity for a friendship to develop fully. Take for example going to class. Though as college students we are required to attend class, many students fail to recognize the great opportunity for friendship in the classroom. This is one of the easiest places to develop friendships – and bonding over the dread of exams doesn’t hurt either. If people are able to count on you to always be there, they are more likely to be there for you in return in a time of need.
However, remember that not every acquaintance you make will become a friend. Remember that rejection happens to everyone and as social creatures, we naturally feel hurt by rejection. Not everyone you meet will end up being your BFF, but that friendship takes work and mutual feelings of trust, support and connection. That said, the practice of being a good friend is not defined by these tasks, little gestures go a long way and as they say, practice makes perfect.
Featured Image via Oguguam Ugwuanyi