I’m feeling nervous about starting my first year at NJIT. I’m an out of state student and am worried that it’ll be harder for me to fit in, since most people probably already know each other from high school. The idea of meeting so many new people in a new place intimidates me! Can you offer some advice as to how someone like me can start making friends who share similar interests? What can I do to make a good first impression?
It’s completely natural for you to feel nervous about starting college! In fact, everyone is. Though you might feel that you’re at some disadvantage, being that you’re an out of state student, think of this as an opportunity to start off on a clean slate. People will be just as curious to meet you as you are to meet them, and being an out of state student will make for some great conversation when making new friends, so long as you’re willing to take the first step by introducing yourself.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to how you can create the best first impression that you can for your new peers. Start off by asking yourself, “do I do enough to maintain good personal hygiene?” As silly as it may seem, clean, unwrinkled clothes as well as personal cleanliness are small details that, in the long-run, make a big difference in the way that you feel. Finding small ways to feel more confident about yourself influences everything from your body language to your mood, which in turn affects the way that you interact with new people.
In meeting new people, you should also try to be open to new experiences. NJIT is one of the most diverse schools in the country, so keep an open outlook when talking to students from different backgrounds. Don’t turn down that invitation to Intrinsic Cafe just because you’ve never tried bubble tea! Similarly, visit your neighbor’s dorm room and try some of their parents’ home cooked Indian food! College is the time to be adventurous, so make the effort to step out of your comfort zone once in awhile. Often, good friendships are based not in common backgrounds, but in opposite ones.
Once classes start, it’ll be a good idea to do your homework early. This accomplishes two things: first, it makes you able to help others in your class. This opens up the opportunity to join late-night study groups if you live on campus! Second, doing your homework early keeps your schedule open for spur-of-the-moment trips to GDS with some floormates. If you can start developing good habits in time management early, it’ll mean more time for you to spend with new people.
Finally, look into joining a club or two! This is a sure-fire way to meet like-minded people outside of the classroom. There are a large variety of student groups to choose from, from professional organizations to hobby groups, and you can browse the complete list at http://campuscenter.njit.edu/involvement/organizations.php. There will be a club fair during the second week of school where you can meet members to exchange contact information if you want to be involved. Besides keeping you busy while you’re not in class, being a part of a club can really play a prominent role in your social life at college. In fact, it’s not uncommon to be involved in more than two!
Stepping into this next chapter in your life can be daunting, but just remember that you’re not alone in this process. I hope that you’re able to settle comfortably into your new lifestyle, and good luck with your first year!