Spring is in the air and while college students may be hard at work studying for finals, they may not have found the time to have an active social life as well. Good on them for buckling down, certainly, but a well-balanced life is what keeps students happy and motivated. According to author Julia T. Wood in her text, Communication in Our Lives, Seventh Edition, socializing helps us to build the much-needed communication skills that we use every day. “We spend a great deal of time communicating. We talk, listen, have dialogues with ourselves, participate in group discussions, present oral reports, watch and listen to mass communication, and so forth. From birth to death, communication shapes our personal, professional, civic, and social lives as well as the culture in which we live.” (4) So encourage your students to get out of their comfort zone from time to time and make some new connections! People they haven’t met yet might just change their college experience altogether.

Making Personal Connections

Where to find these new diamond-in-the-rough individuals? We did a little digging of our own. According to our recent survey, 33% of students share that they met their closest friends in classes, and 31% say they met them through organizations or clubs—both viable opportunities where you know you’ll have at least one thing in common from the get-go. However, we learned that most students didn’t even have to leave the comfort of their residence hall to meet their closest companions. A whopping 72% of students met their best friends right in the dorms.

Benefits of Relationship Building

Learning to build strong relationships helps students improve their interpersonal skills, which allows them to excel in the classroom, on a social level, as well as in the professional world. Developing interpersonal communication skills is always a work in progress but can give students a much-needed confidence boost, which will come in hand when it’s time to begin networking and making professionally beneficial connections. As students meet new friends through their time at school, they will also meet dozens of instructors and advisors that can have a positive impact on their education and even career. When beginning new classes, good relationships with the teaching assistants and professors not only make for great resources and potential college mentors, but they can also provide students with powerful references when they apply to graduate schools, internships, and jobs.

Reference: Wood, Julia T. 2015. Communication in Our Lives, 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

What suggestions do you have for students looking to get out there and make new connections? Share your ideas in the comments below!