The beginning of the school year means countless opportunities to make friends and meet people—so many, in fact, that it can be hard to know where to begin.
Classes are a good place to start. In your first week or two, you’ll have a handful of completely new opportunities—likely with mostly different people—to introduce yourself to someone new. Each new class is like a clean slate.
Easier said than done, right? If you’re taking a class where you don't know anyone, walking into the classroom on the first day can be an isolating experience. But there’s a way to make that large, first-year lecture hall work to your advantage.
The more people in the class, the higher your friend potential
By my very rough—and by no means researched—estimate, I would say that at least half of the people in class in the first few weeks of the year don’t know anyone else. In a lecture hall of 200 people, that’s 100 potential friends who are hoping to get to know someone, just like you. And if you say hi and it doesn’t work out every time, don’t sweat it.
Practice, practice, practice
The truth is, you might not click with anyone the first time you introduce yourself. Some people may have a lot on their mind, and don’t want to have a conversation, or you might just not vibe.
But if you don’t meet your friend-soulmate right away, don’t back away from the fight! If you're not in assigned seats, try sitting in a different spot in the lecture hall next time, and introduce yourself to someone in that corner of the class. Humans are creatures of habit, so it’ll probably be completely new people in that area of the room.
Possible conversation starters include:
“Hey! I’m [your name]. What do you think of this class so far?”
“Hey! I don’t know anyone in this class. Wanna exchange emails in case either of us misses a lecture?”
“I’m lost. Do you know where [insert building name here] is? I have a class there next, are you heading that way?”
The best way to increase your friend potential is to say hi to at least one person in every class you attend this semester. So give it a shot...
And don’t wait.
You know how I said earlier that humans are creatures of habit? Yeah, I wasn’t kidding.
It is all too easy to fall into the trap of not knowing anyone in a class, walking in with your earbuds every day, sitting in the same spot by yourself, and ignoring everyone around you. We might all do this from time to time, but once you have a class with some friends or even just people you’re friendly with, you’ll realize how much better it is to have someone to chat, complain, and exchange notes with.
It’ll just get harder the farther into the term it gets. So don’t wait until November to make the first move. It’s likely that the person sitting next to you is just as nervous to say hi as you are, so why not just go for it? They’ll be grateful that you did.
Be honest—you’re likely going to miss a lecture this semester
Just from a purely pragmatic stance, if you miss a class, you’re gonna want someone who's able to fill you in. There are some things that professors only announce during class, and that won’t be in the syllabus, so it’s crucial to have a back-up plan if you miss a lecture.
I am in no way endorsing skipping classes—you are paying for this, after all—but it does happen occasionally and that’s ok. Just make sure you’re prepared when it does, by having an email address/phone number/Facebook friend you can rely on to fill you in.
Speaking from personal experience, I’ve never had someone who wasn’t happy to chat when I introduced myself in class. Not every encounter that started this way became a lifelong friendship, but that doesn’t mean it was a waste! I’ve made some good note-exchanging acquaintances, study-buddies, and a handful of good friends this way, and I can honestly say that nothing bad ever came from just saying hi.