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Freshmen 101: How to Make Friends in Lecture

Walking into 100 Thomas only to realize that you don’t recognize a single face is not a good feeling. Chances are though, out of the 700 students around you, there is a shitload of people who don’t know anyone either.

No one likes being the awkward kid by himself who approaches another awkward kid by himself and strikes up some really uninteresting small talk about the summer, but, unless you want to spend the rest of the semester in solitary confinement, swallow your pride and introduce yourself. This is easier said than done, so here are some tips from yours truly to facilitate the process.

Choose Your Victim Wisely: Don’t approach people solely because they’re sitting alone. Read their facial expression first — they may actually want nothing to do with you. The easiest targets are the people sitting on the ends of each row without anyone next to them. Not only is it evident that they are also a lone wolf, but figuring out a way to step over them without shoving your ass in their face can function as a great ice breaker.

Strategically Drop Something In Their Personal Space: I would recommend something of little value because there is a slight chance that they won’t pick it up, which in that case means they’re a jerk and you don’t want to be their friend anyway. If they do give it back, reply with “Hey I’m _____! Do you want my number?” Ideally you want to be a lot less aggressive than that, but try your best.

Bribe Them: If there’s anything every college kid loves, it’s free stuff. Use the money your mom loaded your Lion Cash with to buy stacks and stacks of gum and then lure those suckers in. A few bags of Sour Patch Kids are probably a good idea too. People like those.

Dish Out the Compliments: Even if you hate their shirt, tell them that you love their shirt. Starting off your newfound friendship on a lie isn’t the best idea, but why did you even sit next to them if you hated their shirt?

Use Every Opportunity Your Professor Gives You: Take advantage of clicker questions; they are the perfect excuse to talk to people sitting around you. Students also tend to bond over jokes about their professor, so cracking a few could work in your benefit.

Do Anything That Will Evoke a Reaction: Lean on your arm rest just a little too hard so that your elbow slides off and hits them, spill your coffee, spill their coffee, etc.

Sit Somewhere That Someone Will Have to Sit Next to You– If you’re not normally one to initiate conversation, make someone else do it. Like I said before, the kids on the ends usually meet quite a few randos, so camp out there and let them flock to you.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize: This is also a great option for people who are a bit shy. All you have to do is stare at someone really, really hard, maybe throw in a smile. This will either make them feel super flattered or really uncomfortable. Nine out of ten times it will be the latter.

Seal the Deal With their Number: Don’t run out of the classroom without letting your new friend know that what you have is real. If things didn’t go smoothly enough to get their digits (which can be an intimidating experience), at least tell them that you’ll be sitting in the same seat next time. If they don’t sit with you, you’ll get the hint.

The benefit of a giant lecture hall? If you completely fail at your first attempt of acquiring a classroom companion, you can relocate and try again, and again, and again. 700 students means 700 attempts; if you can’t succeed in 700 attempts, you need a lot more help than this article.

About the Author

Lindsay Hummell

Sophomore majoring in Biobehavioral Health.


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