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Making Friends in College

In which Greta looks back on making friends her first year and beyond, and gets excited for incoming freshmen!

In which Greta looks back on making friends her first year and beyond, and gets excited for incoming freshmen!

When I got to Carleton, my biggest worry quickly became: how am I going to make friends?

I had gone to a fair number of camps and other programs during high school, so I was used to being thrown into a group of people I didn’t know. But I soon realized that Carleton was a much bigger group of people. (For context, I went to a high school of ~600 students. So while 2,000 students is definitely a small college, it didn’t feel that way for me at first.) I had no idea how to find my people when it seemed like there was an unlimited supply of potential friends!

If you’re having similar anxieties coming into college, I feel you. But it’s going to work out!

The first friends I made at Carleton were from my New Student Week group. Our defining moment was planting a tree together in the Arb and naming it after our initials: Greta, Ellen, Emma, Becca. I even wrote about the experience in my very first blog post!

Four friends around a tree
what a baby (and terrible selfie-taker) I was!

I still say hi to these three when I see them around campus, and I got a picnic dinner with Ellen this term. But they haven’t lasted as my best friends at Carleton. And that’s okay!

There are lots of ways to make friends besides your New Student Week group.

I met so many people during my first term at Carleton. They included: my roommate and her NSW friends, other people on my floor (shoutout to 2nd Goodhue!), my classmates, people in clubs I joined (like Carleton Democrats and CANOE), and random encounters in the dining halls and other campus spaces and events. At the time, I had no idea which people I’d keep hanging out with and who would become more casual acquaintances. (I’d say “and who I’d never see again” but… at a small school like Carleton you’ll probably run into most people around campus.) The uncertainty was scary and exciting at the same time. But by the end of that first term, I had the beginnings of lasting friendships!

Which friends stuck? Drumroll please…

Lauren and Bryn

I met these two because they were also in my advising group and my Argument & Inquiry seminar. Lauren was also in another one of my classes, and in a theater production with Bryn, so she saw a lot of us! And eventually we just clicked.

Meeting people in classes and extracurriculars can be a great way to find friends with shared interests. Bryn, Lauren, and I have very different personalities, but we all love the humanities and the arts. And, as you can see below, being silly!

Greta, Bryn, Lauren and Jelly Beans
the iconic picture of us. (taken pre-pandemic: you can tell by my long hair and our lack of masks)


I met my other current best friend in one of the aforementioned random situations: baking cookies at Dacie Moses! We started chatting and realized that we had a mutual childhood friend (who had moved from Charlotte’s home of New York City to mine of small town Vermont). We immediately hit it off, and the rest was history.

Making More New Friends

It just so happens that I’m still quite close with these three, and other people I met freshman fall. But this definitely doesn’t have to be the case! You will keep meeting people throughout your four years at Carleton.

A lot of this comes through mutual relationships. Last year, I got to know some of Lauren and Bryn’s cast mates from their play, and now they’re part of our group chat. This term, I’ve really enjoyed getting closer with Charlotte’s extended friend group. I’ve joined their picnic dinners outside LDC and their weekly tradition of movie nights. One of them will even be my roommate next fall!

Another great way to continue making friends is through student organizations (which you can join at any point during college!). In the winter of my first year, I started going to social dance club, which is full of lots of fun people. But I’ve found my main home in Sunrise Carleton. Sunrise is a national climate justice movement, and I’ve been involved in the Carleton chapter since its inception just about a year ago! Most of it has been online, but this week we celebrated with an outdoors, maskless meeting (now that we’re vaccinated!). I really love everyone who’s involved in Sunrise, and I look forward to forming deeper in-person connections with them over the next years.

And that brings me to my final point: making friends is about to become a whole lot easier.

I have the utmost admiration for this year’s freshmen who developed social lives while still staying safe in the midst of a pandemic. (You can read Lettu‘s post about it here!) But next year, we’ll be back to chatting with people between in-person classes; eating at long tables in the dining hall; even going to concerts and movies and parties if we want (can you imagine?!). So if you’re about to start college, I hope you’re getting excited! It will be a great time to make new friends.

Greta is a sophomore and a proud Vermonter who loves the Minnesota prairie almost as much as the Green Mountains. She enjoys writing constantly, playing piano, and spending time outdoors. And eating lots of chocolate. She wants to learn everything, but she’s a major in Latin American Studies and a minor in Creative Writing. Meet the other bloggers!