Tackling the Transition: The College Social Scene

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Today’s question comes to us from Michael in Alabama.  He asks, “I’ll be going to college in the fall and won’t know anyone there.  What can I do to be social and make new friends?”

Tackling the Transition: The College Social Scene

College is all about new experiences, and almost as important as leaping into the academic side of things is how you approach the social scene.

While college certainly shouldn’t be an excuse for non-stop partying, it is an important component of this time in your life. In fact, research has shown students with a healthy social life tend to do better in school (as long as it’s managed well), and also do better in their careers later on.

With that being said, it can be extremely intimidating to socialize in this new environment, that’s often so different from anything you’ve ever known.

The Transition from High School to College

Socializing in high school can still be tricky, but it’s a much smaller and more limited environment.

Often, the people you know in high school are people you’ve known your entire life. They may come from the same socio-economic background as you, and they’re certainly from the same geographic location.

You’re also in a different environment, in that you’re likely living with you parents in high school, rather than living with the people you’re also expected to socialize with.

It’s challenging to make the leap from high school to college, and many students find the process of making new friends one that’s a real challenge.

Understanding How You Want to Socialize

In high school, the socializing options are pretty limited, but in college, you really have to determine how you want to meet people and how you want to engage in campus life.

Maybe you want to join a sorority or fraternity, or maybe you’re more interested in an athletic or academic club.

Even if you join various groups to meet people, you don’t have to limit your relationships only to these groups.

In fact, you may find the most fulfilling social life when you have a mix of several groups or activities you’re involved in.

Tips for Meeting New People

Even if you do make yourself part of a group, or several groups, there’s tremendous opportunities throughout your college life to meet new people, if you’re receptive.



  • Don’t let high school haunt you. This can happen in one of two main ways: maybe you weren’t popular in high school and you’re afraid to put yourself out there as a result, or perhaps you came to college with a group of high school friends, and you’re intimidated to go outside of this group. Regardless of which side of the spectrum you may fall on, don’t let your options be limited because of these feelings. High school is over, and it’s time to embrace a new chapter in your life.
  • Avoid becoming a dorm room dweller. A college campus is full of so many amazing options—take advantage. Instead of spending all of your non-class time in your room, get out. Study in the library or common areas, hang out in the dining hall or even just take walks around campus. Explore your options.
  • If you’re afraid of taking the initiative to meet people out and about, consider getting a part-time, on-campus job. On-campus jobs give you the opportunity to not only make money, but also meet people.
  • Open your mind. When you enter college you get an amazing opportunity to connect with people from all backgrounds, so take advantage. These relationships can shape your world views for the rest of your life, so don’t let a closed mind deter you from these interactions.

Ultimately, while in high school it’s easy to feel like a big fish in a small pond, or at least be complacent with your role in the social ecosystem. When you enter college, understand there will be a shift, but also think about the benefits you can achieve by maintaining a well-balanced and healthy social life.

It may take a little time and effort, but college is the perfect place to cultivate life-long friendships.

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