“Across the country, college freshmen are settling into their new lives and grappling with something that doesn’t compete with protests and political correctness for the media’s attention, something that no one prepared them for, something that has nothing to do with being “snowflakes” and everything to do with being human.
In a sea of people, they find themselves adrift. The technology that keeps them connected to parents and high school friends only reminds them of their physical separation from just about everyone they know best. That estrangement can be a gateway to binge drinking and other self-destructive behavior. And it’s as likely to derail their ambitions as almost anything else.”
Thank you Frank Bruni for a great op-ed. Here is an good comment, only I don’t think it compliments Bruni enough before adding its helpful list of tips for lonely college students.
This article identifies the problem but doesn’t offer much in the way of practical advice. I worked for two different freshman orientation programs, for a combined total of four years, when I was an undergrad, and here are some practical tips for making a big school (mine was 30,000 students) or a small one feel less lonely:
– Sit in the same place in each of your classes each time you go. Introduce yourself to the people sitting nearby.
– Find out when and how to join on-campus clubs. My university had dozens of clubs and had a huge fair during the 2nd week of school where you could check out clubs. Join something. Show up to their activities. (You can also join an intramural sports team, a campus musical group, an amateur theater production, etc. etc. etc.)
– Go to parties in your dorm. Don’t drink too much. DO try to introduce yourself to several people at each event. “Hi, I’m NAME, I live on FLOOR NUMBER” is a fine start.
– Ask people who live near you in the dorms to go to the cafeteria with you.
– Find out about free stuff that happens on campus. Theater performances? The university symphony? Movie night? Interesting speakers? Go. It’s fine to go by yourself; even better if you invite someone you think you might want to be friends with.
– Leave the door of your dorm room open when you’re there. Be open to people wandering in to chat — or invite you to do things together.
– And ignore social media. Other people are lonely, too. It’s OK.