Freshman year at a university brings a lot of excitement as it is a new chapter in life. This is a year for freshmen to enjoy the social scenes and find new friends in various different social settings. Due to COVID-19, freshmen have had an irregular year full of more time in their dorm room and not as much time meeting new people.
At Iowa State, the dorms are enforcing masks at all times when an individual is out of their dorm. In addition, there are no floor-held social events for freshmen to meet new people. Freshman have had to find their own ways to reach out to others and make new friendships.
There is also the reality that some students living in dorms tested positive for COVID-19. Having to isolate themselves and move to a different dorm for quarantine made it difficult for some to make new friends.
“My freshman year did not go the way I expected it to,” said Allison Holloway, first-year student in communication studies. “I expected for it to be a lot easier to make friends, and I know COVID-19 had a huge role in that. It has been completely different than I expected, and I am not sure if it is due to COVID-19 or if I was just over expecting.”
Many freshmen came into this year expecting in-person classes, fun dinners at the dining hall and weekends full of memorable nights. When their year ended up not going the way they imagined, they began to wonder if they had their expectations too high or if things have changed due to the pandemic.
Most years, individuals have had numerous opportunities to meet new people, but this year has looked completely different. Freshmen have had to go out of their comfort zone and find new ways to meet others. Some sororities are playing a big part in helping freshmen meet new people in their pledge class.
Holloway is part of the Panhellenic community and was initiated into the sorority Chi Omega. Although it has been difficult for sororities to bring the entire pledge class together all at once, they have found numerous ways for their members to meet each other.
“Whether it’s study dates, coffee dates, going to dinner with someone or just hanging out with them in your room, you have to intentionally get out of your comfort zone to make those friends because you won’t see them anywhere else on campus,” Holloway said.
Although Holloway has not had the experience she intended on having her freshman year, Chi Omega has helped her find different occasions where she can individually go places with others in her pledge class.
Elle Sneller, first-year student in event management, explained the small deeds she is doing to make sure she is being friendly to others and meeting new faces.
“Besides my sorority friends, I have met my other friends in my dorm just saying hello and being friendly,” Sneller said.
Without even recognizing it, familiarizing oneself with other individuals by just passing them in the hall and saying hello could create a friendship in the long run. Sneller recognized that by going out of her way to say hello to someone, she may find others recognizing her kindness and they may begin finding times to invite her to do things.
Sneller added that with this cold winter, she has found herself wanting to stay in her dorm with friends she already knows rather than walking in the cold to other dorms to hang out with people.
Now that the days have gotten to below temperatures, most freshmen find themselves wanting to stay in their dorm. Aside from COVID-19, this has been another reason as to why it has become harder to meet new people.
Along with a friendly gesture, some college freshmen have had to make a change in how they usually make friends. For Cade Macke, first-year student in elementary education, he usually can get along with anyone and has never had problems trying to meet new people. When coming into college, he wanted to make new friendships, although he knew it may be more difficult than usual.
“I would say finding people who have the same interests is a way I have made friends rather than being with the same people everyday from high school," Macke said. "It is definitely harder to make friends with COVID-19 as I can’t really go and do the things most freshmen get to experience.”
Most people were able to have the “freshman experience” until this year. Macke has had to go out of his comfort zone and find others with his same interests. They may consist of long conversations with a mask on in their hall or trading each other's social media to catch up. Once Macke was able to find others with similar interests, the people he met introduced him to their friends.
Even though many freshmen are coming up with their own ways on how to meet new people this semester, apps like Bumble are also helping college students. Bumble is an application that helps users with similar interests to communicate. Although it is mainly known for dating, they also have a feature where a user is able to specify that they are looking for a friend or networking for business exclusively. Then, they are able to find people of the same interests and communicate with each other.
Apps like these are not well known to university students. Holloway, Sneller, and Macke had heard of this app, but never expected there to be an option to find friends.
"I’m looking for people with common interests that I know I will see in my life such as my roommate, the people in my dorm or people in my sorority,” Holloway said.
Apps like these are debatable for some college students as they are unsure if they will see the people they are communicating with in real life. In the end, many may enjoy this app for the times they feel they need someone.
Freshman year has been difficult for numerous students, but they are also learning a lot about themselves. Freshmen have found their own ways to meet new people and have learned that they can make friends during COVID-19.