“Help! I hate it here!” Our momma hearts always break when we hear from parents whose child is miserable at college, hasn’t made any friends, can’t get along with their roommate, and just wants to quit and come home. Social media posts with the same stories always pop up when college starts every year. Making friends in college is no small task.
College is a HUGE adjustment.
The big problem is that our kiddos go off thinking that college will be the best time of their lives, but in reality, college may be only the best 3 or 3 1/2 years of their lives. (We would argue that the college years aren’t even the “best” years at all, but they are a special time.)
Fall of freshman year can be a real struggle! Students may look around and feel like everyone BUT them has made best friends. They feel miserable, and they turn to us with a tearful phone call.
What can parents do?
- We must acknowledge the reality that this is a huge change–likely the biggest they’ve faced in their lives so far. They may never have had trouble finding and keeping friends before.
- They are not alone! Not only do they see the students around them, but also all their high school friends posting on social media about the great time they are having. Remind our kids that tons of students are struggling. Share this video with them.
- We love the book The Naked Roommate. It deals with many of these issues like what to do with a problem roommate.
- Students need to step out of their comfort zone. Go to things. In these situations, you’re basically talking to strangers. Maybe role play what that might look like with them?
- Suggest places to find friends (clubs, in class, in your major, activities, church, fraternities/sororities, part time job)
- Remind them to be patient! It can take time. We’re talking months, not weeks.
- Encourage them to remove any self-imposed pressure to make friends right away. Take a deep breath. Keep doing what you’re doing.
Most importantly, continue the conversations with your child. Be there to lend a sympathetic ear. Encourage them to give themselves some grace and enjoy this time of their lives.
Making friends in college will happen. It just may take some time.
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