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How to Make an Awesome First Impression at College

School starts soon.

Yeah, stop screaming, it’s a fact, chill.

With a new school year coming up, there’s a great opportunity approaching: the chance to make a BOMB first impression on all your new classmates. This is especially true if you’ve transferred or if you’re a new student!

I’m starting grad school in the fall, and so I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this recently. Here’s how we can both make an amazing first impression on our new peers!

Be Humble.

Everyone you meet during your first week or two is going to be new, or know that you’re new. They’ll be able to tell if you’re bragging on yourself. Everyone around you has equivalent accomplishments to your own. That’s why they’re here! Assume that you’re the least knowledgeable in the room on a given topic, until proven otherwise. You’ll save yourself some embarrassing corrections by not being cocky, and make a better first impression.

Be Confident.

WITH THAT SAID, you should still be confident! After all, you got into this same school as all your classmates. You’re on an equal footing with all the other new students, and if you put in the effort, you will match or exceed the current upperclassmen’s abilities. So walk with confidence!

Protip: the difference between confidence and cockiness is whether or not you actually pay attention to what other people are saying. If you hear yourself interrupting others, or using the phrases “yes, but,” or “but actually,” more than about once a week, try listening to others more and monologuing less.

Be Inquisitive.

On the same note, make it a habit to ask about others! Everyone loves talking about themselves around people they like. So asking about someone’s hobbies, or where they got that cool shirt, or how they practice that one melisma, is a great way to both get to know people and make friends.

Be Honest.

People don’t like being lied to. This includes being lied to about who someone (you) really is. Making a friend is great! Making a friend who only likes you because you altered every aspect of your personality is… not great. College is certainly a place to experiment and play around with your personality. However, you probably have a basic idea of things you enjoy. Embrace those things! If someone asks about your hobbies, tell them! You never know who else out there is still clinging to Pokemon GO, hoping it’ll get better, or who paints miniature D&D figurines. Even if the person asking doesn’t have that hobby, they may know someone who does. I met my SO after taking a risk and commenting on his shirt, revealing myself as the kind of nerd who thought it was a reference to something else.

Oh, also: people can tell when your “cool story” is bullshit. Don’t try to make yourself cool by lying about stuff you haven’t actually done.

Be Spiffy.

Dress like the person you want to be in a year. In your lessons, this means dressing nicely and with maximum range of motion. In your other classes, it means putting in like, any effort at all – the goal is to put off wearing sweatpants and stained shirts to class as long as possible. In social situations, it means dressing the way you want people to perceive you. Don’t abandon your personal style, but maybe consider whether you at 20, 25, or 35 would want to be remembered as the person who wore cat ears or full juggalo makeup at all times. (Note: I know someone who does in fact do one of those things.)

Be Relaxed.

Look, people like making friends. Don’t let the stress of moving to a new place and a new school wind you up too badly. That’s how you get the Wild Eyes and make people a little nervous when you talk to them. Take some deep breaths, remember that people tend to enjoy meeting new people, and talk to people! Before and after classes, in lounges, at bars or coffee shops – just talk to anyone not wearing headphones or focusing hardcore on their phone.

People are scary, especially strangers. I can attest to that. However, we’re gonna go out and make an awesome first impression anyway!

You got this!

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