The only thing worse than paying for college is trying to fit in once you get there. After all, social lives are tailored works of art. In light of that, here are five ways to foster one of your own:
1. Try something new. Starting college is like painting a car: everything may look different, but your interior stays the same. It takes conscious effort to reach out and upgrade. Luckily college is filled with opportunities you’ve never had before, so experiment. Find new hobbies and new friends. Try theatre, an a capella group, intramural sports, or community service. Even if you’re not a thespian, a songbird, or an athlete, all of these activities are inherently inclusive.
2. Go outside. It might be easy to stay within the comfort of your room—especially when you don’t know many people in your dorm—but the best way to make friends is to, well, make them. If you don’t go outside you can’t meet new people. Play an instrument? Find others who do too, and start a small band. Like movies? Find a group to have movie marathons with, etc. Don’t be shy.
3. Watch what you eat. In college, it’s easy to either eat too much or to binge on greasy food. Instead of ordering pizza every night, take advantage of your school’s cafeteria, and of healthy options such as the salad bar. (Staying on campus will also work wonders on your wallet.) And besides the health and monetary benefits, eating on campus is a social experience, as the dining hall is a place of community.
4. Be yourself. College is a big place; without a doubt, you’ll be able to find like-minded individuals in no time. Don’t like to party? Don’t feel pressured. Have a deep-seated passion for archeology? Stay that way. (Just don’t excavate campus property.) For the most part, college is a home for students who are on their way to becoming mature adults, so embrace who you are and find where you fit.
5. Keep a schedule. Now that you’re out of high school, the principal’s office isn’t keeping track of your attendance. Keep yourself on track by attending class and by making time for your extracurriculars. In other words, being diligent about your academics will lessen stress in the long run, giving you time to socialize. Another point to remember: class is also inherently social. Know the people you’re learning with. They may end up being the best friends of all.