Break up your clique by branching out 

Students+study+in+the+Electrical+and+Computer+Engineering+Building+in+Champaign%2C+IL.+October+4%2C+2016.

Lily Katz

Students study in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Building in Champaign, IL. October 4, 2016.

By Tyler Panlilio, Columnist

paliliotyler_cutoutEven though there are over 44,000 students on campus, it’s pretty easy to feel alone here at the University. I just got back from dinner at the Ike by myself — not necessarily a bad thing per se, but it’s kind of getting old. People always say that college is supposed to be the best four years of your life. But, as a freshman, it certainly isn’t hitting off as expected.

High school was a different story. Students had friends that they’d known for years — sometimes even back from kindergarten. So it was easy for students to get into their own cliques throughout those four years because they already knew who everyone was.

Then college comes around and, in the middle of trying to balance schoolwork and getting enough sleep, freshmen want to meet new people. And even though I’ve only been here a little less than two months, it’s been mostly the former two and not so much of the latter.

It just so happens that a lot of my high school friends ended up going here, too. So, naturally, it has been no problem to hit them up on the weekends and make plans whenever. It’s good to see familiar faces in such a huge campus, so it has made sense to do so.

And that’s the problem. For a lot of freshmen, including me, it’s just too easy to gravitate toward your high school clique. Now, it may be a different story if you didn’t come from a huge public high school like I did, because then you’re kind of forced to talk to people. Either way, the point still stands: It seems like making new friends in college is easier said than done.

I’ve come to realize that, although it’s a pretty bad feeling to not have that many friends on such a big campus, it’s ultimately up to you to change that. If you’re lonely, do something about it. Join an RSO or two; there are over 1,400 of them. Sit next to and talk to people in your classes. Go Greek. Just do anything you can to meet new people.

What’s most important is that freshmen can’t get discouraged; making new connections or getting into groups isn’t something that happens overnight. Just because someone ignores or flat out declines your plans for lunch doesn’t mean they hate your guts. There are thousands of possible reasons why they can’t make it, so it shouldn’t be something to worry about.

I’m not trying to say that students, especially freshmen, should completely cut off their friends from back home. They’re your friends for a reason. In fact, introducing new friends to old ones helps to break up those cliques.

What I’m trying to say is that making new friends means having new experiences. While it’s crucial to maintain good health and stay on top of schoolwork, enjoying yourself and expanding your horizons is equally as important.
After all, college is only four years of our lives. It’s best that we make the most of it.

Tyler is a freshman in Media. 

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