How do you start a conversation in college? Making friends isn’t as hard as you might think. When you get to campus for the first time, you might be intimidated by the number of people who look like they’ve already found their group, but the truth of the matter is that every single freshman is just as stressed as you are about making friends. You don’t need to worry about whether you’ll come off as funny or lame — all you really need to do is get the conversation started. Read on for appropriate lines to use at the right time in order to strike up a convo that might lead to an exciting new friendship.
1. Hey, do you still have your schedule? What’s up next?
This friendly gesture works well to start a dialogue because it establishes camaraderie. At most schools, orientation is the source of a lot of confusion for everyone involved: no one knows where the buildings are, there are simultaneous events happening and you’re meeting so many new people that there’s no way you’ll remember everyone’s name. Use the confusion to your benefit by finding a friend who can help you navigate it.
2. Where are you living on campus?
Though asking someone where they live is inappropriate in most adult contexts, during freshman orientation this question is fair game. It invites bonding if you live near one another and comparison if you’re far away. (By asking this question, you'll figure out very quickly if you've been stuck in the bad dorm or if you've been lucky.)
3. Have you figured out where all your classes are?
This question doesn’t seem too interesting, but concealed in its broadness and lack of personality is the fact that it’s essentially a stepping stool. After asking this, you're ready to ask about the classes themselves and their chosen course of study. Plus, in all the confusion of orientation, it might be nice to know about a few more buildings on campus.
In the dorm.
4. How big is your room?
Many college freshmen just end up becoming friends with people they live near, so get started talking to your hallmates early, because these people could end up being YOUR people for the next four years of your life. This conversation starter works well because it might even inspire an impromptu trip around the dorm to see one another’s decorations!
5. What’s life like living with/without a roommate so far?
Dorm living constitutes a large shift in quality of life for most people, and the most unpredictable element of that new dynamic is having a roommate. Many people find roommate living entirely unlivable, so let them vent — you might even get regaled with one of those infamous nightmare roommate stories.
6. Do you know how to do our laundry?
Again, the confusion of the beginning of the school year works as an easy conversation starter. Problem-solving in the company of someone else will start up a conversation that might soon become a bond. Thanks for the help, new laundry bud!
7. Do you mind if I sit here? I’m [your name], by the way.
This might be simple, but it’s effective. Depending on the type of class you’re in, where you sit and who you sit with will dictate how well you do in the class, so try to choose your seat (and therefore your friends) wisely. After establishing who you are, you can start asking them questions about why they’re in the class, where they’re living and what year they’re in.
8. Hey, I didn’t catch a few minutes of that lecture — could I possibly look at your notes?
This line helps you bridge the gap between peers and friends because you’re admitting some weakness of your own. If you don’t understand something written in their notes, then you can talk about that; otherwise, stick to talking about whether or not you like the class so far. Nothing breeds friendship like shared hatred.
9. How’s your homework/paper/problem set coming?
At the end of class, if the professor has assigned something to be due soon, bringing up the incoming deadline can be a great way to bond, especially if it’s a hard assignment. This question could lead to collaboration, which would help you make a friend AND help you pass the class — the best of both worlds.
At a party.
10. I love your [article of clothing]!
Compliments are the easiest way to someone’s heart, and it’s likely that someone at a party spent a little more time putting together their outfit than usual, so it’s nice to reward that behavior. Follow up this question with “Where did you get it?” and you’ll be chatting with a new friend in no time.
11. Who’s on aux?
Asking about who is controlling the music (via the aux cord) is a great idea to expand your circle. If they don’t know the answer, you can talk about the music itself; if they do, you can feel free to go find the music lord and suggest a song or compliment their music taste.
12. How'd you find out about this party/who do you know here?
Asking how they're connected to the party can help you find out if you have any acquaintances in common.
Although starting up a conversation with a perfect stranger may be difficult for you for any number of reasons, try to keep in mind that the first time is the hardest. The more you put yourself out there, the easier it gets. So take this list of conversation starters and start spreading the seeds of new friendships everywhere you go.