How to Find Your Place at McKendree

tips for first-year students

You're about to enter your first year as a college student and you're probably feeling all sorts of things: excited, nervous, worried, and curious. You might wonder what your future classmates and professors will be like or if you'll find some new friends. Trust us, just about everyone who's gone to college has felt exactly the same as you do. In fact, your hallmates, classmates, bandmates, teammates, and other peers are probably feeling that way as well!

So how do you go about finding your place in your newfound college environment? Here are 7 of our favorite tips:

Attend New Student Orientation
New Student Orientation (NSO) might seem a little intimidating at first with all the events lined up throughout your first week, but just remember this: you aren't alone. There will literally be hundreds of new students who are in the same boat as you. NSO is a great time to get your bearings and become more comfortable with your transition from high school to college student. Besides, some of the people you'll meet that day will end up becoming your best friends and some of the most important people in your life.

Use Your Talents
Are you good at drawing or an expert at playing the trumpet? Do you have a school spirit that is positively contagious? Keep your eyes out for opportunities around campus early on. If there's a student organization or event that could use someone who's into art, engineering, music, Shakespeare, or even just has a major passion for the university, give it a try. This could be a good way to meet like-minded people and to get your name out around campus should your talents be needed again!

Be Brave
It's rare for someone to full-out reject you for extending a friendly hand. So send that friend request. Offer someone a smile and a “hello.” Be that person who will lend an ear. Resist the urge to sit alone at Ames and join your fellow bandmates or hallmates for dinner. Remember, pretty much everyone else is afraid and waiting for that other person to make the first move. So why not do it yourself? You might be surprised how easy it can be to make a friend when you show them you're genuinely interested in getting to know them.

Take Social Media with a Grain of Salt
If you look at your high school friends' social media accounts and see them constantly having nothing but fun, don't fret. Social media was made to highlight the good, which can make you feel lonely and unsatisfied. Just because it looks like your old friends are constantly having a good time doesn't mean it's true – remember that!

Get Involved
We know that the urge to hole up in your dorm room, especially in the first few weeks, can be awfully tempting. While there's nothing wrong with having some alone time, we definitely suggest that you pop out and take a look at the university- and student-led organizations out there. Find a few that you're interested in joining. Maybe you want to join something related to your major or your passions, or you could get involved with a sport or campus ministries. Being an active part in an organization is an excellent way to make some wonderful friends who share the same passions as you!

Be Yourself
Many people change who they are in order to make friends – even in college – but it doesn't need to be that way. It's not only a lot of work to keep up a façade, but it's also not a good way to find your true friends. You'll find your real friends and the places that are meant for you if you let your true self shine naturally. Embrace who you are and don't be afraid to show others who you really are!

Be Patient
College is a microcosm of the world around you; it'll take some time for you (and everyone else) to get adjusted to your new surroundings and routines. Even if you keep putting yourself out there or talking to your classmates, finding your true friends often takes time. Cut yourself some slack and give yourself time. Know that you will find the people you're meant to befriend in time. Just keep an open mind and give the people around you a chance.

Starting your first year of college can be exciting yet terrifying, but if you do your best and keep putting yourself out there, you will find your place here at McKendree. If you're still struggling after some time, your Bearcat family is here for you, whether it's your friends in Residence Life, in Health Services, or in Campus Ministries. We're all happy to have you here and know that you'll do great as a Bearcat!