Tips for Building Relationships in College

Wisconsin Promise presents our College Bound Series

College is all about relationships. You’re leaving behind the people you know. There will be new people. You may be thinking, “well duh!” But the relationships you make freshman year are really important. This is not only your first impression of the college, but it’s the college’s first impression of you.

When going to college, no one knows you, so you get a fresh start. You get to decide who you want to be.

Going to college means you’re no longer known as someone’s child. Now you are a college student. You’re your own person and you get to make your own decisions for yourself. People from your hometown have preconceived ideas about who you are. In college you can decide who you are. Here are some tips for thinking about building your relationships in college.

  • Let people know that you both want to and are willing to advocate for yourself.
    Advocating for yourself means not just asking questions but also being ready. This means being on time, having all of your materials with you, and showing that you are dedicated to improving your education.
  • Fake it till you make it.
    There will be times when you don’t want to go to class and don’t want to be there when teachers need you. Here is where the expression “fake it ‘till you make it” comes in handy. Why is this so important and what does this have to do with relationships? If you look ready, your teachers will think you are ready and be more willing to help you get what you need to succeed, whether this is one-on-one tutoring or a job recommendation. It takes two to tango, and you are one of the dance partners.
  • Develop good relationships with staff from Disability Services.
    They are your main advocates for however long you are at college. If you develop these relationships from the start, it will be easier to keep them going throughout the rest of your time at college.
  • Make new friends.
    It’s not a lie that people make their best friends while at college. I did, even though I was skeptical at first. My roommate even turned out to be one of my best friends. Everyone is in the same boat… they have just left their family and friends behind and don’t know anyone else there. I found that by making friends, college felt more like home and I had an even bigger support group. Part of college is about making your own family.
  • Get to know different groups of people.
    I’ve found that some of my best friends are different than me. They have different beliefs and values, and like different things. For me, this is what makes college interesting.
  • Learn to live with people you don’t like.
  • At every point in life there will be people you don’t like – you can’t escape them. You have to learn to live with them. When I went to college, I found that I was letting myself get distracted when I didn’t like someone’s behavior. I would spend more time thinking about how I disliked a certain teacher or how one of my peers was annoying me than I spent doing homework. I had to learn how to suck it up, be polite, and do the work.

In the end, you will come out of college with the skill of knowing how to work with people you don’t like, the knowledge about what’s important to you in terms of your friendships, and the long-term relationships you’ve developed with your teachers and friends. Now go get started!

About the Author

Claire Wisniewski

Claire is a freshman at a small liberal arts college. Through her blog, she shares her experiences in choosing a college and navigating her first year. Do you have a question for Claire? Send her your comments or questions below!

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