The Freshman’s Guide to Finding Your Niche

Nov. 29, 2016

Worried about making friends at college? Don’t stress — these tips make meeting new people a no-brainer.

The transition from high school to college can feel overwhelming and lonely. Fortunately, there are countless activities and clubs at the University of Arizona that can help you make friends. Follow this advice to finding your niche.

Attend welcome activities. The first few weeks of the new semester present a prime opportunity to meet people and experience the different campus clubs and programs. “I encourage students to try out everything because the institution is so large,” says Michelle Blumenberg, executive director of the UA Hillel Foundation, which helps students explore their Jewish identities. Plan to go to at least a few of this year’s welcome activities, dubbed Wildcat Welcome 2016, which will include events such as the Wildcat Fiesta and Bigger.Better.Bash.

Check your email. Welcome Week activities aren’t your only chance to learn about campus happenings. Look for university emails featuring club events and other activities. Sarah Bosch, who is studying neuroscience and cognitive science at UA, connected with the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program through a newsletter blast that landed in her inbox. Last semester, Bosch organized workshops and events for the program, which aims to inspire girls and underrepresented students to learn more about STEM (science, technology engineering and math) fields. “I saw an email and jumped at the opportunity to start working for them,” she says.

Go in search of community. Take the initiative and look for groups that share your interests. Start your search at InvolveUA, which lists hundreds of campus organizations — from African Americans in Life Sciences to Women in Computer Science — that reflect the diversity of the UA student body. You can also find a list of UA’s cultural student clubs here.

Embrace the uncomfortable. It’s not enough to just learn about what’s happening on campus. You have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone and meet new people, Bosch says. That means accepting event invitations and actually attending meetings. You may not like every club or organization, but you’ll eventually find a group of people that you click with. “Just keep your mind open, keep your eyes open and be okay with being uncomfortable because that’s how you’re going to find things,” she says.