You're looking forward to a gen-ed course you signed up for the fall semester. Sure, it's outside your major, but you figure you'll spy at least one familiar face in the class. This one individual will be your go-to person to check about project deadlines, have study sessions with, and chat with before class. You strut into the classroom and scan the sea of faces for the one you can put a name to. Your stomach drops as it dawns on you that the familiar classmate you were hoping for doesn't exist here.
We've all been there. So what now? Instead of making a dash for the back corner where nobody will notice you and your lack of acquaintances, try one of these 3 tactics to break the ice and meet new people.
Give a compliment.
Think about the last time someone you didn't know gave you a compliment. You probably came away from the interaction feeling pretty good, and likely with a positive connotation associated with the person who noticed something unique about you. Find someone who you'd like to start a conversation with and pick something you want to compliment them on. Something as simple as, "Hey, I really like those shoes- Where'd you get them?" can make someone's day. The important next step is to not stop there but to keep the conversation going.
Ask about his or her major.
Whether you're in a class as a part of your major, or you've enrolled to get outside your comfort zone, talking about academic interests is a great way to get the conversation ball rolling. If you and your new acquaintance share the same major, you can delve into topics, books, or research that fascinate you. Chat about your experiences with certain professors, projects, or classes. If you don't have the same major, this is the perfect opportunity to ask questions about a field you might not know a lot about.
Talk about hometowns.
The cool thing about college is that people from all over the country, and oftentimes the world, are sitting at the desks right next to you. With varying locations come different high school experiences, local activities, food preferences, and family members. The phrase "Where are you from?" may sound simple and perhaps overused at the start of anything new. But again, the point is to keep the conversation going from there. Maybe the classmate you're chatting with is from the next town over from your hometown, and you can talk about that burger place you've both been to, or old high school sports rivalries (just don't get too fired up about it).
WRITTEN BY Haley Biermann Emmanuel College
Haley is a rising senior at Emmanuel College where she studies English. She is an intern for the Macmillan Production Department at the Boston office. She loves people and dog watching at the Boston common, jamming out to folk-rock, and coming up with creative ways to sneak in reading time during the day.