In the months after I committed to Furman, I spent most of my days watching as many “A Day in my Life” videos on Youtube from college students and reading anything and everything I could about Furman trying to imagine what my life might be life in the Fall.
I knew that nothing ever turns out like the movies, but still I imagined that it might be. I saw myself becoming best friends with my roommate, balancing perfect academic, extracurricular, and social lives, falling in love, and ultimately finding my life-long best friends who would tell funny stories of our college days at my wedding.
When I finally got to Furman (after a summer that felt endless!) I quickly realized that college could be like the movies… but it would definitely not be as easy as the movies made it seem. I met people everywhere. Everyone I met was friendly, nice, and eager to find their group of friends too, but I struggled feeling confident in the relationships I was forming because they didn’t match what I’d imagined. What I’d come to learn is that community doesn’t have to be just one core group of friends. Community is built through a variety of friendships, mentor-ships, and relationships in between.
Here are some tips to remember when finding your community at college:
- Be yourself!
This sounds like something your mom would remind you of as she’s kissing you good-bye on move in day, but it’s true! Know that you don’t have to reinvent yourself or only show the coolest parts of yourself to impress everyone. Everyone is looking to find community and a sense of belonging just like you!
- Go to orientation and housing activities
Fall Orientation week is the best week to meet and get to know a lot of people really quickly! There are lots of fun events planned (like the annual orientation carnival and lots of freshman-only social events) and
I didn’t know it then, but two of my closest Furman friendships would come because a girl in my orientation group asked me to hang out in her room. She’d overheard a conversation I was having as we were walking back from the President’s Picnic (a nice orientation tradition where freshmen get to tour the President’s house and eat hors d’oeuvres in the front lawn) and in the awkwardness of first-meetings I pulled out a little notebook I’d made of 100 vulnerability questions. She invited her suite mates in and we talked for hours, getting to know each other through my funny notebook questions.
- Be open to finding friends anywhere
My best friend from high school was also attending Furman and I’d stayed in contact with some older students I’d met through admissions events earlier in the year, so I spent a lot of my first weeks with the same bunch of people. While I loved feeling like I was getting really close to them, I ended up feeling like I’d missed out on making friendships with people outside of the same circle.
I decided to join a handful of clubs to widen my involvements across campus and get to know people. I joined a handful of tight-knit communities where the emphasis was on building strong relationships with each other.
Stay in touch with the people you meet and continue to build your relationships, but don’t be afraid to branch out and meet new people. Say yes to new experiences and be open to finding new friendships anywhere you go.
- Talk with faculty and staff often
Whether it’s a professor, an advisor, or a staff member in a specific institute/office on campus, Furman is known for an amazing commitment to building meaningful relationships with students.
They not only will help you get connected to important experiences to help you grow in your education and future career, but are usually down for a good, long conversation about just about anything.
I met Deborah Allen and Emilee O’Brien in the Center for Inclusive Communities at the President’s Picnic during orientation.
We chatted over our hors d’oeuvres and they told me to stop by the office whenever I had a chance to keep talking. Stops to their office became a daily occurrence. They welcomed drop ins and always welcomed me with powerful conversations.
Deborah and Emilee became (and continue to be) my biggest mentors. They guided me into really awesome experiences (like Alternative Spring Break!) and played a huge role in helping me become who I am today.
- Know its okay if friendships drift apart, change, or don’t work out
The weird thing about all relationships in college is that they can be incredibly fluid. Some friendships last all through your four years and move into adulthood. Others only last for a semester. Friendships sometimes drift apart, change, or just don’t work out at all. And it’s okay! College is a huge time for growth and change. Just remember to keep in touch with those you love and care about. 🙂
My journey in finding my community at Furman still isn’t over. As my Sophomore year is coming to an end under the uncertain conditions of COVID-19 I’ve learned a lot about the importance of building community and keeping in touch with friends. I’m missing the Furman community a lot, but we’re all finding ways to stay connected through Zoom calls and FaceTimes.
I didn’t join Greek life and experience the community of “sisterhood”, I have seen a handful of friendships drift apart and/or just not work out, and sometimes I still feel out of place at Furman, but I can confidently say I have found friendship with people who value me, support me, and always keep me laughing… and that’s the real Furman Advantage.
Asha Marie, Admissions Ambassador