How to make friends and alienate people (in class)

How to make friends
Whether you’re a freshman or a senior, you can always use a few friends in your classes. Having a study partner can help a lot, and finding more people to hang with can’t be a bad thing, right?Here are a few ways to meet new people in your classes, and (hopefully) start new friendships in the process.
Go to class, and go on time
  • This one seems obvious, but it can be hard to get to that 8 a.m. class every Friday morning. You can’t make friends without meeting anyone in the class, and walking in 10 minutes late and sitting in the back isn’t going to make socializing very easy. Go to class. Sit in the same general area every day. Make small talk about the weekend, the most recent football game or your summer with the people around you. On this note, do the work (or at least your group work). Nobody likes the guy that doesn’t do his share of the work for the group project. As much as discussing the reading before a class can be helpful for everyone, always asking for summaries of the articles makes you look bad.
Dr. Richard Keen teaches ATOC 1050 in Duane Physics on October 12, 2010.
(CU Independent File/Eric McCune)

Ask questions

  • In the five minutes before class starts (because you’re there on time!), ask the people around you if they did the reading. Ask if they’ve bought the books for the class yet. Ask if they’ve started writing that paper that’s coming up. Don’t ask them all these questions on the same day, but something as simple as asking the girl sitting next to you if she got her books from the bookstore or Amazon can lead into a real conversation. Maybe she’s a freshman and you’re a junior. You can give her advice on how to survive her first college classes or talk about what dorm you were in. Or maybe it’s the other way around, and you’re the one fishing for advice. Either way, questions force conversations – it’s a lot easier to ignore a comment about the weather than a question directed at you. But try to keep most of your questions aimed at the students around you. Please don’t be that kid that asks the professor 30 questions every single class.
Bond over your misery
  • We all have classes that honestly just suck. Maybe the professor’s really strict or the material’s just extremely boring, but chances are that you aren’t the only one that feels that way. Small side comments about how much you hate clicker questions or how strict your TA is can spark a conversation with the people around you. Most people like to complain, and mini-venting sessions can be bonding experiences. Be careful though: you don’t want to be the kid that constantly complains about everything. Nobody likes being reminded of how much they hate organic chemistry at 9 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
How to alienate people
Sometimes you befriend the wrong person in your recitation, and thinking about sitting next to him or her for 45 minutes every week makes you dread going to class. Maybe he has bad breath or talks through the entire lecture. Maybe she makes passive aggressive comments about your life without knowing much about you. You won’t get along with everyone. Here are a few ways to discourage your new, clingy frenemies from sitting next to you everyday, without causing World War III in class.
Use one word answers
  • It’s extremely hard to have a conversation with somebody that’s answering every question with one word answers. Turning everything into a yes or no question, or limiting your answers to just a few words gives the person less information to work with. Eventually the person will probably get the hint. And if they don’t, they’re going to have to try a lot harder to make a conversation than if you’re readily talking with them. Look away, use your phone, check your Facebook while they’re talking. It’s rude, and it’s probably something your mother specifically told you not to do while interacting – but that’s why it works.

Talk about your other friends constantly

  • If you’re constantly bringing up that concert you went to over the weekend or the new restaurant you tried with your best friends, you’re constantly reminding whomever you’re talking to that you already have a life, with plans and friends – and you’re busy. Talking about your other friends is natural in conversations, but talking about them every opportunity you get steers the focus away from you and toward how close you are with your other friends. It might take some time, but the person will figure out at some point that you aren’t inviting them to all these activities for a reason.

Purposely bring up things you don’t have in common

  • You won’t have everything in common with everyone. Some people, for example, love video games, and others don’t. If you know that the person that won’t leave you alone isn’t interested in something you like or at least know about, bring it up. Talk about it in detail. Rambling about what you’re learning in your calculus class will probably turn off an English major. Describing last week’s “The Real Housewives” in detail to someone who hates reality TV is going to put distance between you.

Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Ainslee Mac Naughton at Ainslee.macnaughton@colorado.edu

Ainslee Mac Naughton

Ainslee is a senior news-editorial journalism major. She likes Whataburger, her hedgehog and AP style. She thinks she’s funny, even if no one else does.

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