The first semester of college is frightening, and that is something that almost every student can admit when asked about it. The first day you step onto campus is the beginning of an entirely new chapter in your life. With that being said, it is completely normal for your emotions to be in full swing because that is an inevitable part of your transition. With the excitement, happiness, and feelings of fresh starts, also comes fear, stress, and sometimes, loneliness. That's okay.
While there is a lot of pressure in regard to wanting to succeed in your classes, there is also a lot of pressure when it comes to making friends and getting to know your peers. With this in mind, I have conjured up a list of everything NOT to worry about when trying to meet people on campus.
1. Your Looks Don't Matter
I have seen a lot of incoming freshman scramble for new clothes and more 'professional' styles for the new school year. Of course, many students want to look nice their first week of school before we all bust out the sweatpants, which is completely fine. However, you shouldn't try to change your style completely in order to feel like you fit in. College is FULL of diverse people, which brings diverse styles and outfits as well. I promise you, the student dressed like a professional bank accountant WILL talk to the student with green hair and loads of piercings. The variety of looks on your campus will probably amaze you once you see it.
2. There Is No Power Dynamic Among Students
College is not similar to high school, at all. Unlike high school, there is no power dynamic between upperclassmen and freshman. They won't exclude you or look at you funny for talking to them, nor will they convince you there's a swimming pool on the 4th floor of a 3-story building. You actually can't really tell the difference just by looking at them, like you could in high school. This is especially because there is a variety of age ranges for every year. I have met freshman in their thirties and fifties even, and seniors in their twenties. The best thing about meeting upperclassmen in college though is that they have been in the same position as you, so they understand. They can even offer you a LOT of helpful advice when you need it. Trust me on this one, the upperclassmen are legit.
3. No One Will Be Cruel in Class DiscussionsGroup work and class discussions have always been scary. In high school, it was always like second-nature for other students to laugh and make fun of the inputs and ideas of other students. The snickering, pointing, and mumbling, have all made us want to stop participating in class discussions at least once in our lives. College students aren't like that, though. I have taken a few classes that are very discussion-heavy, including two regarding politics, and have never felt judged for my input. From my experience, everyone listens (when they're paying attention), and nobody interrupts. While there may be disagreements, the discussions don't get hateful, although they may get heated. Often, students tend to add onto what others say, and if you haven't mastered articulation yet, I guarantee there will be someone in one of your classes that will understand and add on to your input by saying exactly what you meant. It's cake, really.
4. Don't Wait For People to Come to You
Meeting new people can be stressful, and for people like me with intense anxiety, it can seem almost impossible. There will be people who come up and sit next to you or talk to you, and by all means, let them! Just try to make sure that the only way you're meeting people isn't by letting them gravitate toward you first. Put yourself out there! Actions as small as asking someone if you can sit next to them, talking to your peers about classes you're all taking, or even asking a classmate to study with you for a huge test, can lead to not only having someone to get through college with, but friendships that will last you a lifetime!
So, incoming freshman, don't worry. College seems scary, but everyone sort of has this collective understanding of how it is for their peers, especially you. High school is known for cliques and judgments, but you're not there anymore. Just relax, and you'll find that "fitting in" is easier than you think because all you have to do is be yourself!