Finding your niche at college

By now you’ve probably had a few weeks to get settled in at college. You’re probably getting to know a few people on your floor and are finding people to share meals with on a regular basis.
But it takes a little longer to really find your niche – activities you enjoy outside of class and friends you can count on who share your interests.

Some people quickly find out how they fit in—maybe they’re involved in Greek life or immediately joined an activity. For everyone else, it simply takes time, patience and a willingness to try to new things in order to settle in to college life.

If you’re feeling a little uncomfortable at school, not sure where you fit in, remember that there are thousands of other freshman at your school who feel exactly the same way—even if it doesn’t seem that way.

Here are a few tips to help you find your niche when you’re at a new school:

Give it time. Literally. In order to make friends and find your place at school, you have to stay there on the weekends. If you live close enough, it’s tempting to head home to familiar faces and places on the weekends. Resist the urge. You may feel at loose ends if you have no plans, but sticking around is the best way to figure out something to do and is your best opportunity to meet new people.

Join something. Join an on-campus club that interests you, take on a part-time job (preferably on campus) that will help connect you to your school. Give intramural sports a try. You may have to step out of your comfort zone a little, but college is all about new experiences. Don’t be afraid to try something you haven’t done before.

Find some favorite haunts. Let’s face it, your dorm room is not always going to be the best place in the world to hang out. Maybe your roommate is studying, or you just need a change of scenery. If you have free time on a weekend, make a project of searching out your new favorite “go-to” spot. Check out local coffee shops, your student union, or the designated study area in your dorm complex. Figure out a place that feels comfortable to you, where you can get away to study, take a study break, be alone or hang out with your friends.

Soak in the experiences. College is a great time to take in concerts, theater and sporting events. Most times you can get great student prices. Ask someone to join you and enjoy all the entertainment that’s available to you in a college town.

Older students, help the freshmen out: tell us how you found your niche at college.

Caroline Hanson

About Caroline Hanson

Caroline is a communications consultant for Wells Fargo Education Financial Services. Although she has been known to forget her own ZIP code, she has memorized the lyrics to every bad 1970s pop song ever written. Unfortunately, she also loves karaoke. Caroline spends her spare time at Target®. She also likes biking slowly and has participated in RAGBRAI. Caroline is a graduate of Iowa State University and has worked in journalism and public relations for the past 14 years. She lives in Iowa with her husband and has a 19-year-old stepdaughter and 2-year-old son.
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