By BRYANT MATERA and KAT DICKINSON
You sit there in your corner in class and wonder how in the world all these people around you seem to be such great friends. While they chatter away before the professor walks in, you ask yourself what is so wrong with you that nobody has made any effort whatsoever to connect with you. We’ll tell you why: because you aren’t making an effort to connect with them.
Some people are already the type who usually don’t engage with other students in classes—us included—but added to that is the fact that it seems a lot harder to get to know people in college classes than it was back in high school. In light of this, we’re going to teach those of you having a little bit of trouble settling into your new classes how to branch out and make a name for yourself.
BAM: Change your seat up. You know how after the first class, people plop in their one definite place? You know you do it, too. I bet if you walked into your English class tomorrow and saw some kid was in “your” seat, you’d be practically beside yourself with anguish.
This can be a good thing, though. Exploring the room a bit will give you a better opportunity to connect with a wider variety of people. At worst, you’ll just become known as the kid that takes everybody’s seat. You can do the same thing at meal times.
KD: I agree with Bryant here, but if possible, try not to take someone’s seat. There might be an empty seat somewhere that’ll allow you to switch things up. Anyway, if you happen to like the person next to you, go ahead and talk about setting up study times and opportunities where you can meet up after class. Next thing you know, you’ve got a new friend.
BAM: Another good idea is to actually talk in class. I make the mistake of remaining silent far too often, and when you sit there like a bump on a log, people are either going to find you smug or stupid. Speaking up will make your voice heard and your name familiar. People will figure out who you are from there. Otherwise you’ll just blend into the background of the class, and no one will ever know you exist.
This is an especially big deal with lecture-hall style classes, when you’re more or less a number. You want the professor to know who you are, especially in large group settings like that. And if you know the answer, say it! Don’t let someone answer it for you. Take credit for what you know. Just please, for our sake, don’t be obnoxious about it.
KD: I’ve always found it hard to talk in class because I’m afraid I’ll be wrong and know only what I feel are the obvious points. Don’t let that discourage you. Your point of view is still important. That insecurity is just a wall to conquer. Even if you are wrong, at least you took the leap.
Also, there are probably one or two people that you have multiple classes with, or have had a few classes with in the past. Chances are, they recognize you, too. If you keep running into them, they probably have the same major, and you might get a good study partner out of the deal. Plus, since they already share that same interest, they might have even more in common with you than you realize, and then you’ve got someone to hang out with outside of class!
BAM: I’ve found that you can create a sort of web among people that you share multiple classes with. When you do make those connections, you end up having a nice comfort zone in each class, so you don’t have to walk in there feeling like you’re being stared down by everybody and their sister.
Also important: be brave. It just so happens that I randomly got paired up with Kat during a Spanish class we had together. Something just clicked and we got to talking, and the next thing I know, I was giving her my phone number. Crazy things like that do sometimes pay off. You might get a lot more than just a good friend out of the deal. Maybe you find your best friend, or even the love of your life. I was lucky enough to find both.
KD: Compliments don’t hurt either. They can be good icebreakers. Just don’t be dishonest—keep them genuine. It’s possible that what could otherwise be a “thanks” or a smile might turn into a full blown conversation. They might talk about where they got their shoes, which might just happen to be your favorite place to shop, and so on.
Another thing to keep in mind is to never judge a book by its cover. Maybe that “weird” girl in the back of Statistics is just having a bad day. She might turn out to be a great friend. The really cute guy up front might have zero self-confidence, and isn’t half as arrogant as you make him out to be. Don’t be afraid to approach people outside of your comfort zone.
Joining clubs and attending events and parties aren’t the only ways to meet people on campus. You can meet people in class, where you spend a lot of your time, and forge long-lasting connections that can be very beneficial. Sometimes the best friend you’ll ever have is sitting right next to you, simply by chance.
Getting connected isn’t anywhere near as hard as it seems; you just have to meet the world halfway. After all, it put you here amid thousands of interesting people from all over the place. It’s up to you to plug in.