Finding Your People: Advice From a Pandemic Freshman

I started my freshman year at UW-Madison with the assumption that making good friends was an inevitable part of the college experience. Unfortunately for me, COVID-19 was raging and my classes were all online. It was hard work and I often felt discouraged, but I was able to start building a solid group of friends.

Even though the Pandemic is (hopefully) coming to an end, the lessons I learned are still applicable to current and future freshmen. For me, and hopefully you, student organizations, my campus job, and my dorm community were all places I found my people.

Student Organizations:

Student Orgs are a great place to find students with similar interests. During my freshman year, I joined Community and Nonprofit Leaders UW, a student org associated with my major. This allowed me to connect with fellow classmates while participating in activities that were important to me. I now serve on the executive board with friends I made during my first year.

UW-Madison’s Org Fair is a great place to explore the abundance of student organizations on campus.
(Credit: Bryce Richter/UW Madison)

Campus Jobs:

Working on campus is not only convenient, but also a great way to meet fellow students. Thanks to my job at the Nick, some of my coworkers are now also my friends. It was easy to foster relationships with people I saw regularly, especially when we had a built-in topic of conversation.

The Nicholas Recreation Center is just one of the many places on campus students can find employment.
(Credit: Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

Dorm Life:

The easiest connections start with your roommate(s). Help each other build a friend network and lean on one another when you get discouraged. It is also important to embrace the awkward and start conversations with dorm-mates, even if it feels inorganic. Embracing these strategies helped me build a dorm community.

My Freshman Dorm:
Chadbourne Residence Hall
(Credit: Joel Ninmann/UW-Madison)

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