Meeting New People
One of the most difficult and challenging aspects of starting college is the process of leaving your family and friends behind and having to create a new social network. Some of the interpersonal issues that students encounter as they make the transition from home to college are as follows:
Even if you have been looking forward to coming to college wholeheartedly and with no apprehension, it is not unusual to feel somewhat anxious and uncomfortable once you are actually here. Particularly if you have never been away from home before for any extended period of time, you may find the prospect of not seeing your family and friends for several weeks to be somewhat scary.
Some Strategies for Coping:
* Be assured that separation anxiety always passes eventually no matter how intense your feelings may be. If you allow yourself to get involved with campus life, they will naturally diminish over time.
* Sometimes it helps to talk about the uncomfortable feelings you are having. Speak to your Resident Assistant, Resident Director, or a friend in order to get support and reassurance.
* If your feelings of anxiety are very intense, consider coming to or calling the Counseling Center (second floor, Spellman Hall, 633-2038) to get professional assistance in moving through this transition more comfortably.
Loneliness and/or Loss of Social Status
Even if you had a lot of friends in high school, unless several of them have come to college with you, it is inevitable that you will go through a period of feeling lonely. Loneliness can be a painful feeling that something is missing from your life or that you feel disconnected from friends and family. Similarly, you may have been very popular and involved in high school, which afforded you a great deal of social status. Sometimes starting over in a new environment makes you feel as if you have lost that status and that you have to start all over again from the bottom of the social ladder.
Some Strategies for Coping:
* Know that experiencing feelings of loneliness is perfectly normal and to be expected while you are going through a period of change. In addition, being alone for awhile and having to cope with that can be a positive challenge that leads to personal growth and greater self-confidence.
* Don’t send yourself negative and self-critical messages about your loneliness and/or loss of social status. There is nothing wrong with you; you are simply going through a transition in which you can and will meet new people eventually.
* Remind yourself that you have met new people and created a social network before and that you will certainly be able to do so again.
* Remind yourself that the skills that allowed you to be popular and involved in high school will equip you to make friends and to become engaged in activities in college.
Developing New Friendships
It takes effort and a willingness to risk in order to create a whole new social network. Your social skills and self-esteem, as well as your willingness to put yourself out there will be tested during this time.
Some Strategies for Coping:
* Make the first move in introducing yourself to classmates and to people in the residence hall. All you have to do is break the ice by introducing yourself; you don’t have to have hours of clever conversation at your disposal. Most people really appreciate it when someone else is willing to make the first move.
* Join a club. One of the easiest and most comfortable ways to meet several new people at once is to join an organization in which others already share at least one interest that you have. At Iona College, we have Club Day each fall semester which takes place in the Spellman Parking lot. All of Iona’s clubs and organizations are represented at Club Day. It’s a great way to get a lot of information and meet a lot of people in a very short time.
* Volunteer. Literally hundreds of Iona students participate in volunteer activities that include working with the homeless in New York City, working at a soup kitchen, tutoring kids, or traveling to more intensive volunteer activities. This is a great way to meet lots of other students and to make a positive difference in the community. If this appeals to you, please contact Office of Mission and Ministry in Spellman Hall they will be pleased to tell you about all the activities in which you can become involved.
* Attend Office of Mission and Ministry open dinners. Every Thursday at 5:30 pm at Montgomery House, students have an open invitation to participate in a relaxed dinner. This is an easy way to meet people and to get fed at the same time; all you have to do is show up.
* Play ball. You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to get involved in sports. For information about intramural sports at Iona College call the Athletic Office at 633-2311.
* Study at the library. Not only is the library an atmosphere that is conducive to getting your work done, it is also a great place to meet other students.
* Eat in the student cafeteria. This is another easy and casual way to meet new people. Simply introduce yourself, ask if you can sit down and you are on your way.
* Form a study group. Finding partners with whom to study is a great motivator,an excellent academic tool and another good way to get know people.
* Be patient. Remember that it’s going to take some time to meet new people and to build friendships. Don't become discouraged if this doesn’t happen immediately. Just keep putting yourself out there and you will create a new social network in time.
Perhaps making friends and meeting new people is not a new concern for you. If you have had difficulty making friends in the past due to shyness, it is likely that you are worried about this problem cropping up again here at college.
Strategies for Coping:
* View this as an opportunity to recreate yourself. Consider taking risks in this new environment that you have not taken before. No one here has any preconceived idea of who you are. You can be anyone you want to be. Consider being more outgoing.
* Take it one step at a time. Begin by just saying hello to the person sitting next to you in class or just having a brief conversation with your roommate. Continue to say hello to new people and have brief conversations on a daily basis.
* Stay with it. If someone doesn’t respond positively, don’t become discouraged. Perhaps they are shy, too.
* Get some help. If you feel that you are too shy to make the first move, consider talking to your R.A. or to a counselor for some assistance in overcoming shyness.
* Don’t give up. Shyness is a common problem and people do overcome it with time by taking risks, by being patient and by getting the help they need.
Resources at Iona College:
Office of Mission and Ministry
Office of Student Development
Office of Student Success