By Shelby Corliss – Collegiate Contributor
Making friends in college sounds easy…until you really try making them. Sure, there are the people you meet at parties (if that’s your style), the work friends (that besides a few, you mostly tolerate them because you have to), the people you sit next to in class (who really, the only commonality you have is how bored of class you both are), and the ones you randomly end up sitting next to while eating lunch, on the bus, or studying in the library (who look nice, but you never actually talk to).
How do you go about actually taking the next step, from small talk, to actually creating a friendship?
Attending community college doesn’t have to alter your ability to make friends. Yes, It can make it harder and a lot less fun, but that is only if you let it. With that being said, if you are waiting for me to give you an excuse about why it’s okay not to make some friends, you’ll be waiting a long time. Although going to a community college can make it a little more difficult to meet people, there are still many opportunities to do so.
College, no matter where you go, is a place where you can find lifelong friends, and for many, even a spouse. College is also a great place to network with people, some you may even run into later in life. Having friends to lean on, talk to, and do things with is important no matter what age you are. There are plenty of ways to go about your search for friendship as long as you’re open to it.
Join a club
Chances are, if you join a club on campus, you’ll meet people who have interests similar to yours and that could potentially spark a friendship. There are over 30 clubs and organizations on campus that students can join. You can even start your own club. I was privileged enough to work at the student newspaper on campus last year, as the A&E/Features Editor, and I not only gained experience, I gained many new friends. It was really cool to see the dynamic change in the group, from when the year began to when it ended. We learned and grew together as people, as a group, and by the end of the year, as friends. Although, I don’t work for the paper anymore, I still keep in touch with a lot of people that I met through that experience. I still make time to hang out with them and stay in tune with their lives. I encourage you to join a club or organization that interests you as well, because great things can come of it.
Make or join a study group
Surrounding yourself with people who have a common goal, short term or long term, can be the beginning of a long lasting friendship. Being around people who have a similar drive or desire for success keeps you in check, but it can also start great conversation. Be open-minded; people can surprise you. Working in a group is valuable to everyone involved. It is very beneficial to work with a group of people who might have the same major or interests as you do, as you can both learn and grow together. It can create a bond that lasts beyond community college and into many other aspects of your life.
Stay on campus before/after class
One of the easiest ways to meet new people is to surround yourself by them. Hangout in common areas like the Quiet Café, or the Raider Grille, located in the Student Community Center. Go to the library or sit outside. Don’t go to class and head straight home, instead, use the campus (you pay for it, don’t you?) Get your money’s worth! If you see someone that looks like they might be fun to talk to, go talk to them. They are in the same boat you are, and are probably looking for a new friend, even if they don’t realize it. There is always something going on downtown. Grand Rapids is a great city, go out with people and explore it.
Get to know your co-workers
Co-workers can be a hit or miss, I know. But you might be surprised at how much you have in common or how well you get along with someone when you are out of a stressful work environment. Co-worker friendships depend on the situation, but working at places with other college students, or places where other college students regularly go may help build friendships faster. I met one of my best friends at my job. We got along well at work, and after working together for a while we made plans to go out for lunch. We hit it off and realized we are way more alike than we knew. Although, we don’t work together anymore, we still hang out on a regular basis. It is a friendship that I never expected and sometimes those ones are the best!
If you take anything away from college (besides a degree), I hope it’s the importance of creating friendships and keeping them. Friendship is beneficial to every single person on this campus, whether you’re introverted or extraverted. Social interaction is helpful to us as humans because it makes us happier, more outgoing, it can give us someone to talk to, listen to, laugh with, and simply do things with. Friendship gives life more meaning. It helps us be proactive in our lives and it gives us an accountability partner. It’s unhealthy to be alone all the time, and with so many people in this world, why would you want to be?