When my first year of college came to an end, I was terrified I had made the wrong choice. After a falling out with two of the people to whom I was closest on campus, I was left feeling as though the school was no longer my home. I did not have the support network I craved, and I did not know what I was going to do come fall when I would be back to being surrounded by people who only knew me in passing. I began to think that if I had chosen my other top choice, I would have been happier, I would have had friends.
After a summer of worrying, the end of August came around, and I made my way back to school. For the first month, I ended up spending time almost exclusively with my roommate. The two of us would meet up for both lunch and dinner to avoid becoming the dreaded social outcast eating alone in the bustling dining hall. Though I adore my roommate, it was isolating to have only one person with whom to converse, often exhausting topics before we were even back in our shared room.
But then something wonderful began to happen. Without much of a social life, I had the time to throw myself into a few clubs and devote myself to my mock trial team. I spent my free time working on mock, finally going to swing club regularly, and attending a couple other club meetings I had neglected my first year. My teammates began to ask me to go to dinner with them or offer me a ride home over the weekend. Slowly, I became friends with teammates that had more or less ignored me the previous year. By the end of the year, we were more than just friends or teammates though: we were a family. This family has since grown, and I could not be more grateful that I stuck it out at Allegheny to meet these brilliant, meme-loving people.
Why am I sharing this sob story of being socially isolated for a decent portion of my college career?
I am sharing because college is about finding your family. No matter what college you attend, you can find this family. During the first week of your first year, you will likely meet hundreds of new people, but it is perfectly okay to not feel a strong bond with any of them after the first couple weeks. You might meet your lifelong college friends that everyone promises within the first two days or it might take a couple years, but, ultimately, you will be okay. You will end up with the network you want with a little effort.
Whether you are at a small liberal arts college like myself or attending a gargantuan state school, college is what you make of it. If you feel isolated in one place, you will likely experience these same feelings elsewhere. Sitting alone in your dorm or immediately driving home every weekend will lead to loneliness at any school. These feelings can be remedied by making an effort to be around the kind of people you want to meet. For some, this means going Greek and surrounding yourself with brothers or sisters. For others, this might mean joining a club sport or going to that comic club meeting you said was for nerds despite hoarding volumes on your bookshelf. It might just mean sitting in the coffee shop and drumming up conversation with the guy who ordered the same drink as you or that girl who has a sticker on her laptop for that cult-classic film your friends back home were sick of you talking about. There are people everywhere the same age as you with likely the same interests as you if you take a look around.
For me, it was a combination of things, but I am so glad I did not write off my school as being a terrible fit socially and transfer before putting myself out there to find my family.