Making New Friends

Friends provide status, support, fun, ideas, and much more!  Students often struggle to develop new friendships while maintaining previous ones.  Many students and parents are unsuspecting for the emotional havoc that changing relationships cause.  Your son or daughter still has a variety of ties with former teachers, clergy, coaches, teammates, and high school friends.  How and when your child comes to terms with the changes in these relationships will determine how successful he or she assimilates to the college environment.

Encourage your child to make new connections with college faculty, staff, and friends.  This is an uncomfortable step for some students and your son or daughter may need your support and guidance.  Your student will need to be flexible, tolerant, and willing to take some risks.  Quick judgments and being influenced by first impressions can be destructive.  Help to promote diversity through peer connections so your child will find that he or she can learn to understand differences.

Some tips to share with your child to help them get started making new friends include:

  1. Involvement.  Be where other people are.  Suggest that your child explore clubs, organizations, sports, or special interest groups.  Suggest he/she stay on campus on weekends occasionally.
  2. Send friendly, non-shy signals to others.  A smile shows you're friendly and would enjoy the other person's company.  Open your posture; uncrossed arms and legs look more relaxed.  Lean toward the person or move closer to show you're attentive to what he or she is saying.  Make eye contact to indicate that you don't want to miss what is being said.  A nod communicates that you understand what is being said and you are interested in keeping the conversation going.
  3. Resist the urge to withdraw from people.  Don't isolate yourself.  Be open to new people and their cultures.
  4. Make an effort to always sit beside someone in lectures and say hello to them.  Focus your conversation on a common topic of interest such as a book that the other person is carrying, a mutual friend, or the fact that you both live in the same hall.
  5. Try listening first and talking later.  Talk about your feelings and experiences so others get a sense of who you are.  Be positive, enthusiastic, thoughtful, and encouraging.  Ask open ended questions.  Avoid getting mired and trading statistics about one another.  Ask questions specific to the person rather than general questions.  Try not to gossip.
  6. Don't rush a relationship.  People get to know one another through a mutual process of self-disclosure that takes place over time.
  7. Many friendships begin to form and relationships take hold during the first few weeks of the Fall semester.  Missing campus events during this crucial period can reduce your child's opportunities to meet and bond with peers.  Encourage your child to stay on campus to avoid this negative impact.
  8. Your child can find out more about developing friendships at the PSC Psychological Counseling Services Office.

 

If you need further information, please contact Psychological Counseling Services at 304-788-6976 or simply stop by the office located on the base floor of the Health Center .