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How to make friends in the MIDDLE of college (this ended up sort of long - maybe it's a bit of a vent too) -UPDATE


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<<This ended up sort of long. Maybe it's partly a vent too. But I really could use helpful suggestions too.>>

DD20 is in her third year of college. She is a very kind, sensitive, good, young woman who also has an outgoing personality. She talks to friends and new people. She has all the skills to make friends. She homeschooled until 6th grade. In high school she was very well-liked, which is different than being "popular" she tells me. She wouldn't want to be popular because that involved drugs and meanness. 

At the beginning of college she knew exactly how to make friends. So she had a group of several girls she was friendly with. But in spring semester of first year, many of these girls wanted to join a sorority. Now understand, her college is a very small private Catholic college. When you think sorority at big university, this is not it. There are no actual sorority houses on campus. DD was not really interested in a sorority, but all the other "friends" were "rushing" so she decided to try also. Things were ok, until the last night of rush where they put all the newbies in a room by themselves for hours and one by one would take them out and do something (the newbies didn't know what would happen) and they never return to the same room to tell the other newbies. DD found this a ridiculous waste of time, not at all fun, and saw it just as intimidation and bullying. She was not so much afraid about what would happen - the school has pretty strict rules about hazing - she just found it to be a horrible way to make friends (bullying, intimidation, humiliation...how is that a basis of friendship?) So after two or three hours of just sitting there (no talking to each other, no phones, and an unsmiling older "sister" enforcing the quiet rules), dd stood up and said to her friends, "this is so stupid. Why are we here? We don't need to be treated like this for the sake of making friends! I'm leaving. Anyone want to come with me?" No one left with her. 

So, yes, all those "friends" were accepted into the sorority (word has it that there was a letter of acceptance into the sorority for DD that night in the other room. I say this to let you know that she did not walk out because she was afraid of not being accepted. She was pretty sure she would be accepted. She just no longer wanted to be a part of that culture). The "friends" all said that they would all remain friends any way. And at times, some of them have been better than others. Btw, the "sisters" all love to complain about each other to her. Eye roll. 

Fast forward to this spring semester of her third year. Instead of commuting, she lives in an apartment with two girls who are in the sorority. It has not been good. Once again, she called me and tells me how mean they are, and how they will continually pick their sorority friends over her, and that they have a "weird need to bully girls in order to befriend them". She was shocked to hear one of her roommates say to the other (regarding upcoming rush events) "I can't wait to scare the sh** our of these b*tches!"  DD is so fed up with this crew. She wants to make new friends. But here it is 3rd year. You know how that is...everyone has their friend groups. Oh, also there's this...dd tried to hang out with a different girl who is not in the sorority and her roommates found out and said "oh she's so weird, she's an oddball. Don't bring her over here!" Sigh. 

So, she needs ideas on how to meet new people. In the middle of a pandemic where all in-person clubs etc are online! She goes to the gym every day. She goes to the library every day. She has tried Zumba a few times recently (with the "odd" person). Do you have any other ideas? She chats up everyone already, she's very friendly. 

Edited by Amethyst
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Can she room with her new friend next year, instead? It seems that sharing space with the sorority girls is a big issue, so I think she should do her best to change her housing situation next year.

Hopefully next fall, the clubs will be able to meet in person again. Can she befriend people digitally, by texting those that she finds interesting in her online clubs?

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Does her school have many clubs? I know virtual meet-ups are far from an ideal way to meet people, but everyone is in the same situation.

How about professional groups related to her major through her university? 
 

The gym isn’t usually a good place to meet people and start actual friendships, but would she consider joining an athletic club? Lots don’t require any previous skill, though there might not be many opportunities during a pandemic.

Does she work? A part time social job like a barista is bound to provide the opportunity to bond with other young people. Almost everyone is lonely right now and looking for connection.

Ugh this is such a hard time! Just a few more months to hang on, fall should be better. 

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I will tell her to volunteer to lead  events for transfer students. They usually are in the same need for friends and she might be able to find new friends there. They may be younger but I don’t think college friends need to go by age. Also if she can join other groups and be in leadership. She may make friends with others 

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This can be difficult at any time, but especially in the middle of a pandemic.  I know many college students whare a frustrated trying to form relationships (and are burned out on ZOOM).   Suggestions I would have would include joining a club that is affiliated with her major, joining a religious group on campus, and volunteering for community/campus service activiites.  Those are ways she is likely to meet like-minded people.  Is there a possibliity of an internship?  Or a campus job?  Looking off campus (a local church community, a hobby) would expand her circle.

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Thanks for the responses so quickly!

I should have added that she will be back to living at home next semester. Dad always thought living on campus was a ridiculous expense when she could be living at home - I convinced him because I know how difficult it is to make friends as a commuter students, and because during last summer when young people wanted to socialize and we needed to keep our distance from our own kids after they went out, I thought it was a reasonable option to keeping her locked at home. 
 

Her major is pre-med and she is seriously studying for MCAT right now. Very few pre-med majors at her school to study with, but I can ask - there must be a few. 
 

An athletic club? You mean like tennis or volleyball team? (Small school - I don’t think they have club tennis) But I’ll suggest it. She might be aware of things. She did just mention last night that she wants to change her major to athletic trainer (she was just kidding but it indicates she has gotten more into fitness than ever). 
 

She is an officer in Bio club. I’ll suggest reaching out personally for coffee meetup separate from club. 
 

Her brothers are gamers. She never got into it. The transfer student idea is a good one. Maybe a job, although she spends so much time studying until the MCAT right now. Maybe after the exam. 

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She does volunteering but ugh, that’s even online. Ugh. This is such a difficult time.
 

She’s not religious (sigh...I tried) so that suggestion would not be welcome. 

She is artistic. Lives to draw and paint. I don’t know how to turn that into a social thing. She tends to do that more for relaxation. 

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2 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

Oh and she should feel free to hang out with and invite over anyone she wants. The snobby sorority roommates shouldn’t get to dictate her social life. 

You’re right! 

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I tell my dd (also in college) to just keep asking and not get discouraged. Ask nice people in class if they want to get coffee. You may have to ask 10 times, but if you end up meeting 2 decent friends, then that's ok.

You didnt say if your dd was introverted, but my dd struggles sometimes with casual type friends. I've had to remind her that even if someone isn't an intimate friend, it's still nice to have a person to go see a movie with. My dd prefers having 1-2 close friends, but sometimes she needs to reach out and have other kinds too,

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31 minutes ago, fairfarmhand said:

Ok I tell my dd (also in college) to just keep asking and not get discouraged. Ask nice people in class if they want to get coffee. You may have to ask 10 times, but if you end up meeting 2 decent friends, then that's ok.

You didnt say if your dd was introverted, but my dd struggles sometimes with casual type friends. I've had to remind her that even if someone isn't an intimate friend, it's still nice to have a person to go see a movie with. My dd prefers having 1-2 close friends, but sometimes she needs to reach out and have other kinds too,

That’s a good idea. I will encourage her to ask people and not get discouraged (although I think she will tell me that she is ALWAYS the person who initiates that kind of thing and no one reciprocates.)

She is NOT an introvert. She is outgoing. Although maybe not quite as outgoing as her older sister who is just very very outgoing, talk to anyone, light up a room kind of outgoing. This dd20 is outgoing but not bubbly. She recently did tell me that she prefers one-on-one situations. At parties she tends to listen to what others say and comment at appropriate time times but if at parties they are just talking stupid stuff, she doesn’t have many occasions to converse. So she prefers smaller more meaningful interaction. 

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19 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

She might be able to reach out and find a training buddy to workout with.  It may or may not morph into a friendship outside of the gym.  Or if she's into running, a running partner. 

 

Good ideas. I’ll suggest these. 

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2 hours ago, Amethyst said:

That’s a good idea. I will encourage her to ask people and not get discouraged (although I think she will tell me that she is ALWAYS the person who initiates that kind of thing and no one reciprocates.)

She is NOT an introvert. She is outgoing. Although maybe not quite as outgoing as her older sister who is just very very outgoing, talk to anyone, light up a room kind of outgoing. This dd20 is outgoing but not bubbly. She recently did tell me that she prefers one-on-one situations. At parties she tends to listen to what others say and comment at appropriate time times but if at parties they are just talking stupid stuff, she doesn’t have many occasions to converse. So she prefers smaller more meaningful interaction. 

The person who initiates is more likely to find a match than the one who waits?

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Study groups. I made my best friends in study groups - these are the folks with whom you spend hours each day working out the math homework or prepping the labs. I don't think I spent as much time with another human (until I was married) as I spent with the guys in my study group. 

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7 minutes ago, klmama said:

Maybe she could meet someone compatible by seeing who is studying at the library on sorority party nights.  

This is great. I’m gonna tell her!

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A MCAT study group does sound like a great idea. 

There are only a few weeks left in the semester, then she can move away from those mean girls!

I had a mean roommate in an apartment situation my junior year, too. I decided to move out, but the two weeks between the decision and when the other room was available were horrible. *shudder*

Could she move home early?

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4 hours ago, Amethyst said:

That’s a good idea. I will encourage her to ask people and not get discouraged (although I think she will tell me that she is ALWAYS the person who initiates that kind of thing and no one reciprocates.)

She is NOT an introvert. She is outgoing. Although maybe not quite as outgoing as her older sister who is just very very outgoing, talk to anyone, light up a room kind of outgoing. This dd20 is outgoing but not bubbly. She recently did tell me that she prefers one-on-one situations. At parties she tends to listen to what others say and comment at appropriate time times but if at parties they are just talking stupid stuff, she doesn’t have many occasions to converse. So she prefers smaller more meaningful interaction. 

All of my kids have mourned this kind of thing. They get so frustrated that so many young people don't seem to understand reciprocation. That it is always wearing to be doing the asking (and after awhile you start to feel like a loser who is desperately chasing people). I don't know what that's all about. It's really weird, because we've seen that phenomenon happen too.

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44 minutes ago, Kanin said:

A MCAT study group does sound like a great idea. 

There are only a few weeks left in the semester, then she can move away from those mean girls!

I had a mean roommate in an apartment situation my junior year, too. I decided to move out, but the two weeks between the decision and when the other room was available were horrible. *shudder*

Could she move home early?

She actually came home for most of January and February cuz she really felt like both roommates were hostile. Then she decided to go back. She has been coming home much more frequently for dinners and occasional sleep-overs. I think she would move back permanently except she likes having the library and gym nearby. And of course she has the lease until end of June. 

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8 minutes ago, fairfarmhand said:

All of my kids have mourned this kind of thing. They get so frustrated that so many young people don't seem to understand reciprocation. That it is always wearing to be doing the asking (and after awhile you start to feel like a loser who is desperately chasing people). I don't know what that's all about. It's really weird, because we've seen that phenomenon happen too.

I’ve experienced this as an adult too! Why are we all so afraid that we need one another?!

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2 hours ago, Amethyst said:

I’ve experienced this as an adult too! Why are we all so afraid that we need one another?!

Same. I wish those of us who felt this way could find our ways to each other more often. I’d love to have a friendship where the give and take is more balanced. 

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My Catholic university actually had a group called the Association of Commuting students.  It shared building space with the Resident Association.  The large majority of my friends came from joining the board of that group.  They put together activities like movies, dances, hayrides and such. (Do kids still do those things?!)  Are there groups she may not be aware of yet?  The Student Union that planned campus activitywas also a nice group to meet people.  We had sororities and fraternities as well, but they weren’t allowed houses on campus.  

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My DD is an incoming freshman and a few current freshmen have reached out via her online profile to get to know her bc they haven't been able to meet people on campus.  Kind if different,  but maybe start looking for older or younger students to associate with?  

I would also look at transferring, unless it would be terribly expensive.   A larger public school might be a better fit, and lots transfer in Jr year!  

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8 hours ago, fairfarmhand said:

All of my kids have mourned this kind of thing. They get so frustrated that so many young people don't seem to understand reciprocation. That it is always wearing to be doing the asking (and after awhile you start to feel like a loser who is desperately chasing people). I don't know what that's all about. It's really weird, because we've seen that phenomenon happen too.

Oof. OP - your DD sounds a lot like my kids. I've said it many times and I will keep saying it - this pandemic has hit those young adults who are right at the "spreading my wings" ages the hardest (socially speaking, of course). It's made everything so. darn. hard.

DD2 says it's like walking through mud all day, every day. Every friendship takes 100% more energy to keep going because there's so little to do. She doesn't want to party in someone's crammed apartment or house (all the frat houses are closed to "the public")... all the school-endorsed activities are distanced and/or on Zoom... annnnd, that's pretty much all there is to do! 😖 DD's making it through, but it has been a workout.

She's also noted that she doesn't think many of her friendships this year will carry through to next year. This year they've all stuck together because finding new friends was kind of exhausting, lol. DD is looking forward to next year to branch out and meet new people.

And to the above quote - soooooo true. My kids keep losing more of their friends to their phones. Friends who used to LOVE going out adventuring, partying, hiking, etc now just sit in their rooms on their phones scrolling through TikTok videos. I've known some of these kids since they were in elementary school and the personality shift is alarming.

Like, those friends will post a four-sentence comment to a famous/Insta/TikTok famous person's post (who will NEVER read their reply), but will scroll right past a friend's important post. It is BIZARRO world.

And reciprocation?!?! Lawdy, no. Many of them have to grumble around to muster up the energy to go have brunch or something... they def don't have the energy to reciprocate.

Leaves the kids/young adults/grown adults who like to DO things a bit adrift or always pulling others along! 😕 Not fun.

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  • Amethyst changed the title to How to make friends in the MIDDLE of college (this ended up sort of long - maybe it's a bit of a vent too) -UPDATE

Spoke to dd just now. She had a great day. As she was telling me about it, she said everything that I had told her to do, happened today. SO GREAT BIG THANKS TO ALL OF YOU!

She spoke to a fellow pre-med major in the library who is a year older than her. She made plans to walk with a classmate over the weekend. She talked to a stranger by commenting on her shirt then they conversed for 15 minutes. She talked with someone in the gym. I think there was at least one other thing. It was amazing the change in her mood. Yesterday she was crying to me again, today she’s so cheerful!

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Just now, Amethyst said:

Spoke to dd just now. She had a great day. As she was telling me about it, she said everything that I had told her to do, happened today. SO GREAT BIG THANKS TO ALL OF YOU!

She spoke to a fellow pre-med major in the library who is a year older than her. She made plans to walk with a classmate over the weekend. She talked to a stranger by commenting on her shirt then they conversed for 15 minutes. She talked with someone in the gym. I think there was at least one other thing. It was amazing the change in her mood. Yesterday she was crying to me again, today she’s so cheerful!

AWWW

Yay that it worked and she saw such improvements and it made her feel better.  

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That is a happy update!

Does her school have some kind of online social board for students? A Facebook group or some such? If yes, another idea would be to read it frequently to see if something appealing is mentioned. If she has a favorite book or genre, perhaps she could find out if someone would like to get together for coffee or ice cream or a walk for a mini-book group.

Regards,

Kareni

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