Freshmen are often painted the picture that the friends you make in college will be lifetime friends. While, this could be true for on-campus freshmen, it’s not always the case for commuter students who have more on their plate and less time for it all. When the majority of college students today are commuters (75%), it begs the question: where do students build these lifetime connections?
Many students have experienced those ice-breakers that are mostly redundant and time-consuming. Ice-breakers do serve a purpose; in establishing similar interests and connections between students.
What About Me?
I travel almost two hours, more during the winter, to get to my college campus. If I wanted to become involved on campus, that would mean leaving at late hours of the night. Traveling alone, across the city on public transportation isn’t ideal. With incidents of inappropriate behaviors, theft, and dangerous people on the CTA almost daily, commuting for the sake of plausible friendships isn’t convincing.
The reasons for commuting are plentiful: cost accessibility, transportation, jobs, family status, among other reasons.
Not Your Average Student
Unlike me – an introvert – many students seek out these connections and relationships. However, the term “friend” has taken on a new meaning in the age of social media and people trying to make more “connections”. Students individual personalities influence if they partake in different activities or are completely disconnected and focused solely on classes.
Due to different college cultures, students may open or close themselves off. For example, if a student grew up in a big city with different groups of people (ethnicities, religious backgrounds, sexual orientations) and moved to a small town college in a conservative state the ambience would be quite different. Similarly, those with limited life experience often attend big party schools to gain freedom, and a “classic” college experience à la Animal House.
How do I make friends?
If you are a commuter student trying to find ways of making friends on campus (even if they aren’t lifelong) there are some general tips to keep in mind.
- Research campus clubs that you hold interest in. You may meet people with similar goals or interests.
- Try to small talk to people in your classes, even if it is awkward at first.
- Look for volunteer opportunities where you interact with people on campus. It’s an easy gateway to friendships
- Visit resource centers or general areas where students tend to pool together.
Lastly, just because you’re making friends, doesn’t mean they will last a lifetime. Make sure to check out my piece on toxic relationships.
The most important note: BE YOURSELF. Also, keep in mind that you are allowed to explore and experiment. It is ok to encounter uncertainties in your identity and to not know who you want to become. College is a time to grow and find yourself. Never pressure yourself into being something different simply to become “likable.” Allow yourself to explore and experience new people because you never know that girl you sit next to in chemistry 101 could be in your wedding party five years from now.