I’m honestly not sure if Kenyon is the right fit for me. I am in my second semester (of freshman year), and I still don’t have a solid group of friends, much less any sort of best friend. When I went home for break, everyone asked about college like it was the time of my life, but honestly right now it’s just okay. I know finding friends takes time, but I’m just not sure I’ll find them at Kenyon. So I guess I’m asking: What should I do?
– A first year
First, let me thank you for writing the first submission to the Ask the Editors page. For me, the first semester of college was really difficult. I felt like I was an afterthought in the group I spent time with, and even though I tried to sit at new tables or meet people in class, I couldn’t find someone that felt like a possible best friend. I remember for at least a week I had Bumble downloaded on my phone with the profile set to “looking to make friends.” At the time, when I asked people what to do I often received baseline advice on how to start conversations, instruction to attend more parties or reassurance that you “just have to give it time.” As it turns out, the reassurance that everything would work out ended up being the most true statement of the three, but it was also the least helpful in terms of actionable steps.
After winter break I worked up the nerve to pass a note to two people in my Spanish class who I thought were cool asking if they wanted to grab coffee after class sometime. The two people I asked ended up being two of my closest friends, and I now live with them. Most stories I have heard about people finding friend groups have two things in common with my story. The first is that the friendship began around some basic shared interest (in my case Spanish), and was sparked by a genuine (often awkward) attempt to connect outside of the initial shared field. Ultimately, I have found that many of the clichés like “you never succeed if you don’t try” are cheesy and annoying, but also unavoidably true. In case you have heard all of this before and are still lost, here are some things you might consider doing instead of waiting for everything to fall into place:
1. Don’t be afraid to compliment people. If someone has great things to say in class, or if you like their outfit, tell them.
2. Have at least one conversation starter in your back pocket, for example: What is the conspiracy theory you believe in the most?
3. Try to walk out of class with someone you want to chat with more. You might have to pack up a bit slower or faster, but it can be a good casual introduction to someone.
4. On the class note, try to get some people’s numbers. Connecting with people from class is a great way to make friends, and is also really helpful when you have a confusing assignment.
5. Join clubs that meet in person, especially those which include casual opportunities to meet people (for example, The Horn).
6. It’s okay to be friends with people who you don’t feel super connected with, but don’t let yourself get so caught up in the idea of a group that you miss out on meeting new people.
7. Focus on your relationships, not just the outcomes of those relationships. It is worth having conversations with people even if they don’t end up being your best friends.
8. Keep in touch with your friends from home. Remember, college friends are an addition to the communities you already have; you don’t need to start from scratch.
9. Learn to be comfortable with going to and doing things alone. It is a scary but useful skill to be able to go to a show or event, or even just eat a meal, alone. Even though college is about making new connections, it is also about becoming more comfortable with yourself.
Overall, I think the first semester of college is much harder for most people than they are willing to admit, and that’s okay. If you are thinking about transferring from Kenyon because you haven’t found your mythical community yet, I would give yourself and Kenyon a bit longer. This is a small school, but not so small that you have given everyone the opportunity to meet and connect with you. If all else fails, there is always room for more people at the Collegian 😉
Hannah Sussman ’25
To send your own submission to “Ask the Editors” you can follow this link: