Thriving in US College Social Life

During your first few weeks in a new environment, it’s only natural to be nervous. College is no exception. On moving-in day, butterflies flutter frantically around the stomachs of all incoming freshmen. The inclination, especially among introverts, is to retreat in order to get one’s bearings. However, as comforting as a retreat might be initially, students can find that they’re letting opportunities pass them by that wi

ll put them at a disadvantage later on. Thus, incoming freshmen should be made aware of the opportunities available to them, and take initiative. Here’s how:

Alex Olya, a Tufts alumni explains...

1) Dorm Etiquette - Not only should you leave your door open, but also knock on the doors of others and say hello. Try as best as you can not to decline any social invitations during the first few weeks to cast a wide net. Note that as scared as you might be, you’re not alone. Everyone else is also freaking out.

2) Your Roommate can be an amazing friend but often that’s not the case. Be prepared for both situations, and make sure that you follow certain rules or establish certain boundaries:

• Communicate, communicate, communicate!!

• Establish ground-rules (cleaning/sharing)

• Give each other space, but also be there for him/her

• Don’t be too needy or request too much

• Go out with him/her initially, but not exclusively (if possible). Otherwise, let him/her know where you’re going.

3) Frat/Sorority Parties are often the “go-to place” for socializing and meeting others. Take note of the different frat/sorority houses, as each one has its own reputation and atmosphere.

Watch your drinks, don’t over-consume, and don’t drink at all if you don’t want to! In fact, don’t feel obliged to go if you don’t want to. There are MANY alternative ways for socializing.

4) Go to Student Organization activities. Just like you shouldn’t over-rely on your roommate, you shouldn’t over-rely on parties to meet people. Explore your interests first. And then explore things you think you might like, but haven’t tried. College is a new beginning where nobody knows you. You can be whoever you like; so be fearless. (And if all else fails, these activities often have free food.)

5) Talk to Your Professors. Talking to your professor during office hours, even if it’s just to introduce yourself, goes a long way. Remember that in college, everyone is considered an adult. I’ve seen students develop genuine friendships with professors that enabled them to network and get an advantage in a competitive job market or graduate school applicant pool.

6) Network. And don’t just network within your immediate social spheres. Networking shouldn’t just be with people from the same major. The more people you meet from different walks of life, the more you make of your time at college. You gain new perspectives, hear about events worth attending, and learn in ways that will help you grow as a person.

7) Be (Physically) Active! Exercise can aid students in every way possible. It increases focus, concentration and memory, boosts your mood and quality of sleep, and alleviates stress. It will also help combat the “Freshman 15” (ie. gaining 15 pounds from poor eating habits). Video Games can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Similar to drinking, please do it in moderation!

In general, students are better off when they experience college actively rather than passively. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so carpe diem.