1. Become a master at asking the same 5 questions
For those first few weeks of school, friendship is really just predicated on asking the same five questions. They are, in no particular order:
- Where are you from?
- What’s your major?
- Why you gotta be so rude?
- Don’t you know I’m human too?
- What dorm are you living in?
If you can get through these 5 questions and actually have something to talk about, then it’s socially acceptable to say “what’s up” to them every time you see them on campus.
Note that this only lasts until you both make enough actual friends, and thus have enough friendship currency to ignore each other. Usually, this kicks in during second semester.
2. Acknowledge the orientation fallacy
I never liked the cultish feel of college orientation — that, within seconds of stepping on campus, you should devote your undying love to a University you don’t even know anything about by virtue of a dance party.
My stance on orientation may not have made me the best sophomore year orientation leader, but I think the key to this sort of stuff, no matter your demeanor, is to just acknowledge the realities of the situation at hand. If you notice someone is reacting to playing the “bunny bunny” icebreaker game the same way as you are, strike up a conversation on the walk over to the dining hall. Say something real. That’s your first real friend.
3. Vaguely know of parties
A great way to make friends, but also a highly dangerous one. The most cringeworthy thing you can do as a Freshman (other than saying the word cringeworthy in real life) is to create a caboose of 20 people, all of whom expect you to deliver them to the promised land.
No party is gonna let in a Freshman caboose — although you will now have 20 new friends.
4. Only pretend to text sometimes
Pretending to text will become incredibly useful as the weeks progress (particularly when you walk by someone you hooked up with a few days before), but try and limit yourself as much as possible during the first few days. Early on, half of making friends is simply making eye contact.
5. Don’t overstare at people you pre-friended on facebook
Having both accepted and requested friends pre-college, I can confidently say that the people you end up becoming friends with have nothing to do with whether or not you both said you were potentially interested in joining the archery club.
Rather, it has everything to do with not being a complete weirdo and staring at someone for 8 seconds too long.
6. Go to any event and social interaction possible
I live in New York City now, and just a few days ago I walked right by girl who I was pretty decent friends with the first few weeks of school — we talked it up at a party, participated in a group frisbee session, and frequently sat next to each other during our first semester class. Our college paths severed after the first semester, so I rarely saw her during the rest of college.
When I walked past her on the street, we didn’t even say hello. To be fair we were both buried in our phones — and by the time we noticed each other it would’ve been slightly out of the way — but it was still one of those classic occurrences that felt significant enough to include in an overly indulgent listicle.
The point I’m trying to make is that you will have tons of these fleeting friendships — you’ll hang out with people who exclusively talk about being from LA, and you’ll hang out with people who are way more into rugby than you are. But you’ll also hang out with 2-3 groups that stick. Interacting with different groups and people will make you realize what you don’t want in your core college friendship, so you’ll very much know when the right fit does come along.
7. Obtain alcohol
Obviously huge. You don’t want to be the alcohol doormat (guy people only talk to because they want alcohol), but that’s usually much more contingent on personality than it is ability to obtain alcohol. So in review, obtain alcohol and don’t suck.
8. Avoid the high school pipeline
I feel like everyone has the story of a roommate, floormate, or friend who spends the first month disappearing to barbecues hosted by upperclassmen from his sweet prep school. Trying to infiltrate one of those groups is all but impossible, given that their friendship experiences primarily occured outside your current environment. In other words, their inside jokes are about the high school baseball coach rather than the guy on your floor who blasts Slayer at 3am.
9. Pounce on every chance for an inside joke
Speaking of the Slayer guy, this is really how you make it. My freshman roommate and I didn’t really connect for the first week or so, until we both started making fun of how one kid we met said the phrase “no worries” every five seconds. We proceeded to say “no worries” after everything we did, and then lived together for the next five years.
10. Mold your experience around what you want.
If you’re really curious about improv comedy, your interest and passion will lead you down a road in which your friends are also very interested in that. If you spent most of high school studying and want to finally let loose, go down that road. You might wake up in a ditch, but so will your new best friend. Hopefully.