Adjusting to change: how to make friends at a new school or college
Advice for getting to know your new schoolmates
Moving to a new school or college brings plenty of chances to start afresh and meet new people. However, it can also be pretty intimidating when you’re in a new place and you don’t know anyone that well. This guide offers some tips for making friends at your new school or college.
Reach out to other people
For some people, chatting to someone they’ve never met before comes as naturally as breathing. For others, it can be a little bit trickier. However you feel about it, reaching out to new people and starting a conversation is the first step towards making new friends. And past that initial stage, things get a lot easier. Here are a few examples of ways to break the ice:
- Introduce yourself (with a smile!) to whoever you sit next to in class.
- Ask if you can sit with an unfamiliar group or person at lunchtime.
- Compliment someone when you speak to them for the first time - everyone loves a compliment. It can be about lots of things, like their style or a comment you heard them make in class.
- Ask your classmates about the teachers and what their classes are like.
- Ask about something you see them doing, like the book they are reading or the music they are listening to.
It can take time and practice to really connect with people. Not everyone will be receptive, and it’s important to remember not to take it personally. Not everyone you reach out to will become a friend. They might be a little shy, not particularly keen on making new friends, or they might simply not be someone you get on with. But the more you put yourself out there, the easier it will become (really, it will!), and the more chance you’ll have of starting a conversation with the people who will become your close friends.
Ask open questions and listen actively
One of the best ways to get to know people is to get them to talk about themselves. After all, it’s everyone’s specialist subject. Open-ended questions are a great way to get people to open up. Not only does this take the pressure off you to talk, but it leads to a much more interesting conversation than yes/no questions. For example, instead of asking, ‘So, do you like English?’ ask, ‘What made you choose English this year?’
Remember, listening to the answers are just as important as asking the question. People enjoy conversations a lot more when they feel as though they are being heard. If you really listen to what they are saying, you’ll naturally follow up with more questions or comments based on what they said, and that’s how a real conversation gets started.
Join a team or club you are interested in
One of the best ways to meet people who share your interests is to find the place where these people meet. At school or college, this generally tends to be on teams or in clubs. If you were previously part of teams or clubs in your old school, then it shouldn’t be too hard to find similar ones at your new school. However, if you have never joined a team or club before, you need to be proactive when it comes to finding and joining the ones you might have an interest in.
No matter what subject you’re passionate about, it’s highly likely that there’s a club or team that’s linked to it in some way. Try to speak with a relevant teacher or tutor if you’re struggling to find specific details - they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.
Spend more time with your new friends
The quest to make new friends does not end at the initial meeting! It’s really important to work to maintain your connection with people going forward. This might sound like a weird thing to say - should making friends ever feel like work? But the truth is that in the beginning, you might need to make some effort, especially if you are the new person in a school where the others already know each other. The good news is that, if you keep it up, you’ll soon have great friends, and that initial phase will be long forgotten.
Once you’ve figured out the people you really enjoyed meeting, make sure you keep it going. For example, you could arrange with them to take the same route to and from school, agree to sit together at lunch, or simply continue to have a conversation with the people sitting closest to you in class.
When you feel that you have really started to build a relationship with these new people, you can suggest doing something out of school. It can be something small to begin with, like getting a snack together at the end of the school day - no need to invite everyone back to yours for a party right away. You’ll be able to see if you still have a great time with them outside of school, and then you can start doing more things together, like going to see a movie or playing sports. Enjoy spending time with your new friends!
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