A fresh start – that’s what many high school seniors can’t wait for. Over 9,000 students attend UW Oshkosh; students from every walk of life, of every major, and of every passion. How could college not foster innumerable friendships? How could someone ever feel alone when surrounded by so many people? But loneliness is one of the greatest concerns my peers bring to me. Feeling lonely does not need to be a part of your college experience if you take a few simple yet bold steps.
Loneliness in college students across the nation in the last few years is higher than it has ever been. A study by Harvard researchers through the Making Caring Common Project showed that 61% of young ages 18-25 reported experiencing serious levels of loneliness (Weissbourd, 2020, pg. 1). You probably don’t need statistics to know that making friends is hard. I didn’t know anyone from my high school going to UW Oshkosh. A couple years later, I can hardly walk across campus without running into someone I know. There are steps you can take to make real connections during your college years!
- Remember everyone is/was where you are
Everyone was new to UW Oshkosh at some point. Do not be afraid to reach out. People want to meet you! Even the person you are super intimidated by is probably just as nervous to talk to you.
- Choose to be authentic
“Just be yourself” is such a cliché but it’s SO true! You will find your people here. But you must be real and authentic in order to find those people. This is a scary step in the friend making process but you CANNOT skip it. I specifically remember before I went into new social situations, I would hype myself up and decide that I was going to talk to people, even if I was shaking in my boots.
- Open your door
I’m not saying you can never shut your room door but I am saying you cannot just stay in your room all day and expect to make friends. LEAVE! Walk down the hall and awkwardly talk to the people in the lounge, in the bathroom, or in the elevator. Maybe knock on your neighbor’s door and introduce yourself! That is how I made my first friends at UWO. It was weird, but so fun and memorable!
- Get involved!
UW Oshkosh boasts over 130 clubs and organizations! Pick a couple and show up to a few meetings. It is scary showing up to a meeting by yourself but taking that first step is huge! You won’t regret it. I got plugged into a club called Cru my freshman year and am now deeply invested in the organization and community.
Another great way to get involved is going to campus events or even getting an on-campus job! Almost every office and facility on campus is hiring!
If you need someone to talk to, please reach out to the Counseling Center. College is what you make it to be. The more you put in, the more you’ll take out. You are more than capable of forming lifelong friendships, remember YOU are awesome!
Weissbourd R., (2020), Loneliness in America – How the Pandemic Has Deepened an Epidemic of Loneliness and What We Can Do About It, Harvard, Making Caring Common Project, Retrieved from https://mcc.gse.harvard.edu/reports/loneliness-in-america