It’s that time of year: thousands of college students are flocking to new dorms, new classes, and most of all, new friends. Almost everyone recognizes the importance of a good first impression and they’re not the only ones. The Victoria Beauty College even hosted a hair styling event to hone their skills and prepare school children in need for the first day of classes.
Along with the 22 students who took part in the hair-a-thon, licensed stylists from nearby salons also volunteered to cut some of the 159 children in foster care or other sects of Child Protective Services.
Making a good first impression is key to beginning your path to success, especially in a college setting. Kids are always nervous about their impression and the dreaded four-letter word: acne. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, over 50 million people in the U.S. have acne, approximately 85% being teenagers. This is the first time many new college students will be living on their own. While a few of them might get along with their roommate, others will often struggle to make a good first impression on would-be friends and peers.
“It’s like going into a cold pool. You can just jump in and it’s really, really abrasive,” says Bravo star, Ryan Serhant.
On top that, we’re often hindered by our own biases toward fashion, posture, and even voice. One communication expert, Ric Phillips, notes the importance of the four “V”s that factor into making a first impression.
The four “V”s stand for verbal, vocal, visual, and vibe. The vibe consists of the three previously mentioned factors.
A person’s verbal factor is the wording they use when they speak to you. This is then affected by the tone of the person’s voice and the general pacing of the conversation. The visual aspects consist of a person’s style but also encompass behavior, including posture and whether or not a person is fidgeting. These subconscious judgments often contribute to the way we feel about a person when we first meet them.
According to Serhant, the best way to make a good first impression is by improving your posture.
Luckily, there are ways to surpass the common feelings of awkwardness and judgment.
“Shoulders back, back straight, smiling, excited, energetic, but not too energetic, shaking their hand,” he notes.
Here are some tips for making friends when you start college.
Put your phone away. There are over 100 billion searches performed on Google each month and more than enough text messages to go around. Even if you want to share your first day of college with your friends and family back home, no one wants to talk to someone who doesn’t pay attention. If you’re distracted by your phone, simply turn it off or leave it at the bottom of your bookbag. Just don’t leave it at home so you can get your new friends’ phone number.
Your appearance is going to be the first thing that is noticed by a soon-to-be friend or classmate. In college, it’s important to exude confidence, even if you don’t feel that way. Start by choosing an outfit that makes you feel confident and taking care of your personal hygiene. According to a survey by the AACD, 99.7% of adults — practically all of them — believe that having a healthy smile is an important factor in your social life.
Try to be approachable. This one is tough: between bypassing nerves, remembering your dorm key, and trying to figure out where your classes are, you might be totally lost and not showing the appropriate body language to encourage a chance encounter. Try to ask a stranger in class for a pen or form a study group to break the ice. This will prevent you from falling behind in class and maybe help you form a few lasting friendships in the process.
Go to a party and bring a couple people you talked to in class. Just remember to smile — if you’re looking for a cute person to talk to, nearly 96% of adults think that having an attractive smile will, in turn, attract the opposite sex.
If you’d rather throw your own gathering, keep in mind that a beautiful layout should consist of three main colors to use in napkins, decorations, or even balloons. While you don’t need to become an expert party-planner overnight, your new guests will appreciate the time you put into crafting a fun space to get to know each other.
There’s also nothing wrong with riding the coattails of an acquaintance. They might be able to introduce you to people you may have never met otherwise! You just need one friend to make a difference, not a squad of people.
Your first days of college can be an intimidating time and it’s important you try everything in your power to make a good first impression. Even if things don’t work out at first, you have to keep trying! Overcoming the bias inherent in other people will be a difficult milestone to overcome. But no matter what mode you use to make new friends, it’ll all work out if you lead with a winning smile, exude confidence, and put yourself out there. Just don’t forget that back-to-school haircut.