Recently one of my close friends approached me and said, "You're good at giving advice- how do I make friends? Orientation is next week and I'm nervous!" First, allow me to clarify. This isn't an article about how to actually navigate college orientation- books and classes and stuff? That's on you. This is about how to nail orientation on social level, or as some would call it, "how to make friends."
Besides being flattered that she thought I gave good advice, I was inspired to share my advice to her with you all. I imagine that many college or university orientations haven't taken place yet. If you're an incoming freshman and are sweating orientation big time, be nervous no more! Here are some tips to get you through it all in one place. Hey, you might even make a friend or two.
(If you've already gone through orientation...I hope you did well!)
You were probably expecting this one. I know you probably don't want to hear it, but take your mom's advice: a bright smile lets people know that you're a friendly and positive person. Not only that, but smiling helps make you more approachable. We've all been in situations where we see someone cool but they're either frowning or look disinterested in what's happening around them; needless to say, rarely do we (or anyone else) approach them. When you make eye contact on accident, don't freak out- Smile! It's a direct communication of your feelings to whomever you're engaging with.
2. Nonverbal communication*
Ursula's got it right when it comes to "the importance of body language." Crossed arms and bad posture screams, "Stay away!" No matter what you're saying to your potential friends, your body language can either undermine of bolster your message. Keep your body language open as much as possible in order to let people know you're willing to engage with them. Let your hands float down to your sides, or at the very least, tuck them casually into your pockets. Straighten up, and keep your chin high! When you're speaking to someone, maintain eye contact and have an open expression to let your speaker know you're interested. When some offers you there hand, lock the web of your hands together and squeeze firmly to let them know you're confident.
*(NOTE: is smiling a form of nonverbal communication? Yes, definitely. But it's almost in it's own category because it's a direct communication of how you feel, whereas the actions described below in tip #2 are aimed at coming across as open to anyone looking at you, whether you're engaging with them or not. Lol I don't recommend smiling aimlessly all day- that attracts more ire than interest.)
Which brings me to my next piece of advice.
3. Be confident!
Being the closeted introvert that I am, I know this is easier said than done. Here's what I'll say: fake it 'till you make it. You'll find that pretend confidence will not only get you through the day, but it will eventually turn into real confidence! You really do have to go through the motions, or as the kids say, walk the walk. Be unashamed about who you are and keep it real. That being said, don't force yourself into situations on false confidence- take things at your own pace and do things you're comfortable with.
4. Stay fleek
Sometimes we need to be reminded of basic truths, including this bit of advice: dress to impress. I know- how materialistic and shallow to judge based off of appearances. Unfortunately, how you look has a considerable impact on people's first impression of you. I'm not telling you to go conform to beauty standards, though. Just be sure your outfit is neat, coordinated, clean, and totally you. Looking fabulous does help with the whole confidence thing, too: if you like how you look, you're likely to be more confident when approaching people.
5. Things moving too slowly? Make the first move
You might want to sit down for this one: other people are just as nervous as you are. Woah! If they're at orientation, then those people are just as inexperienced and new to this whole college thing as you are. If you're feeling eager to meet people but notice no one is really mingling, don't be afraid to approach them first! People will appreciate that someone has taken notice of them and unless they're determined to be grumpy, your conversation should be a positive experience for both of you. Even a nice, simple "hi" can lay a nice foundation for future interactions with that person.
Those are all of my suggestions for nailing orientation! My own orientation is July 8th so I'll be trying out these tips right along with you guys. I'll come back to comment on the success of these tips and I hope you'll comment below with your experiences/concerns regarding orientation, whether you've gone or are waiting to go.
All that's left now is to try these tips out. Happy mingling, friends, and good luck!