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I am absolutely miserable at college

betsanatorbetsanator 1 replies1 threads New Member
I have seen a million and two threads that are very similar to my situation, but none have hit the nail on the head. I am at my wits' end and am very lost and confused about what to do, so I hope that advice from strangers helps.

I'm only a month in to college but I am absolutely miserable here. I have never experienced such extreme loneliness.

I have 0 friends. I have people who I say "hey" to on campus, but I definitely don't consider them friends. I really like my roommate, but we don't hang out other than in our room; she hangs out with her high school friends a lot. It's already week 6 of classes, and I haven't met anyone in class who I would want to hang out with outside of class. I joined a religious organization, but the people in the group don't really align with my beliefs and values. I was accepted into a club and have training for that this upcoming weekend, and I really hope that helps. I honestly don't think I fit in with the people here. There is a significant Greek life and party scene here, and that is not me at all. I keep thinking about transferring. The school I would transfer to has a very different atmosphere than my college, and also happens to be much closer to home (which isn't why I would go but is definitely an added benefit). I often find myself getting through the day by telling myself I can transfer next semester.

I don't feel as if I have articulated my feelings properly, but it's the best I can do. I guess what I'm asking is how do you know if you don't fit in with the people at your college, and when do you know it's time to transfer? Should I wait until the end of the school year to make a decision?

Thanks for reading.
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Replies to: I am absolutely miserable at college

  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 23276 replies17 threads Senior Member
    Have you thought about joining the Greek life? Some people have an image of how Greek life is and it may not be that way at your campus at all. All the social sororities have a philanthropy and you may find you really like that, or get involved with the leadership of the sorority, or in tutoring other members.
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  • mikemacmikemac 10363 replies151 threads Senior Member
    edited September 23
    I really like my roommate, but we don't hang out other than in our room
    Colleges are not in the business of assigning friends, they are just assigning housing. While roommates may end up becoming good friends it isn't something anyone should count on. What about other people in your dorm or on the floor? At many colleges the kids from a dorm floor tend to sit at the same tables in the cafeteria, and dorms often hold events so students can meet.
    There is a significant Greek life and party scene here, and that is not me at all.
    This makes it sound like the college isn't a good fit for you, as does what you wrote about the religious club.

    Expecting to have good friends a month after starting college is a bit of a reach. And you may be fooled by other kids "game face"; inside many frosh around you may be just as lonely but to the outside world they present a happy and smiling appearance so you think you are the exception. And paradoxically trying to hard can backfire; kids that latch on after just meeting someone can end up driving that potential friend away.

    Many colleges offer free & confidential counseling that can include discussing adjustment issues; it might be worth talking to someone at the Counseling center. Maybe it will turn out that this isn't the right fit for you, maybe it takes longer to find your circle. A trained counselor is better positioned to help you thru this than people on the forum, much as we'd like you to succeed.

    edited September 23
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  • eb23282eb23282 584 replies16 threads Member
    Curious - why did you pick this college in the first place?
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  • blossomblossom 9919 replies9 threads Senior Member
    If you've joined a religious organization, try a meeting with the chaplain or one of the activities directors? They know the upperclassmen- they know the other students- they can help you connect with the kids who DO share your values! Unless you are at Liberty or similar, most campuses have pretty diverse religious organizations and one of the staff people can help you navigate that.

    I know six weeks feels like forever but it's not.

    Do you sit at meals with your phone, scrolling with your head down? Do you study in the library and make an effort to be friendly when you are walking out?

    Big hugs. This is hard but you can do it.
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  • EmpireappleEmpireapple 1809 replies27 threads Senior Member
    I think you are doing better than you realize. As the above posters have articulated, everything you are feeling is normal. Try to focus on what you have accomplished in the six weeks you've been there. I think the fact you get along with your roommate in the room is a great start.

    The only thing I have to add is to just be comfortable in your own skin. Focus on what you do like, be friendly, smile, be helpful to others and I think you will feel differently by semester's end.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6857 replies60 threads Senior Member
    These are some great posts. The common threads that I see are

    1) it takes time to build a new world. 6 weeks is very early days- in fact, around now is when the first friendship re-groupings happen (there are several rounds of that through the first year in particular, and at the start of second year).

    2) adjust your expectations: you won't suddenly, magically have a friend/friends. You will have acquaintances who will become people you are friendly with, and -for a few of them- friends. Don't limit the people around you to friend/not-friend. Most of the college students that I know have multiple pods of people that they do things with- a study group from a particular class, hall mates, people in the same major, people that they spend time with in their ECs. Their actual *friends* can come from any of those pods, but are rarely in all the same ones.

    3) you have been dipping your toe in the water, but you really have to jump in. Look for somebody in a tough class that looks agreeable & ask if they would like to study for the next quiz. Make a study group. Take the lead. It's not part of a larger commitment- it's working together on a common goal, one of the very best ways to get to know people.

    4) look for people whose needs are greater than yours. Volunteer at something that matters to you.

    The school you want to transfer to is a proxy for home- it's more familiar, so it seems as if it would be easier. That is a false friend of an idea. You say you've been reading CC posts- you know then that there are a fair few people every year who either commit to transfer and suddenly part way through spring term realize that they really want to stay & want to know how they back out of the transfer- or do the transfer & realize that they want to go back to the previous school. You don't want that to be you. For now, let go of the idea of the familiar / near home school, and push yourself to invest yourself in the new community. Transfer apps go in the spring, so set a reminder in your calendar and close that door for now.
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  • 3puppies3puppies 1749 replies12 threads Senior Member
    You are not alone, even though you are feeling lonely.

    It will get better.

    It is naturally tough when you feel this way, especially since your roommate (who you like) has friends from high school she likes to hang out with.

    You deserve a LOT of credit for joining a religious organization as well as getting into a club - there are a lot of kids who think that making friends just magically happens. You have taken steps to try to address your problem. While the religious organization may not have been helpful yet, give maybe stick it out, and try to give it a bit more time. I am hopeful for you that the club will also prove beneficial.

    The idea of transferring may be tempting now, but you may also find that thinking about it too much now will prevent you from being receptive to accepting your new situation.

    I think it might be premature to think too much about transferring now. It might turn out that it will be in your best interest, but don't rush it.

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  • newyorkmom2girlnewyorkmom2girl 85 replies13 threads Junior Member
    Yes to all the above comments and would like to emphasize that a lot of kids look like they have friends but wouldn't consider them friends.

    I'd encourage you to get involved in more than one club to see if that helps you meet like-minded people. Getting involved is so important socially and it sounds like you're already trying to do that, which is great. You just haven't found the right club yet. Do you like to run? I know several kids who've met good friends through the running club...they seem to be pretty inclusive.

    Keep putting yourself out there and the social life will come.
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  • svlab112svlab112 602 replies7 threads Member
    My daughter also felt lonely in college and found it difficult to connect with others. She got a part-time job in retail off campus which helped. She would also used a “meet-up” app for activity based events. In addition, she volunteered and was able to meet other people.
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  • PublisherPublisher 8536 replies91 threads Senior Member
    It would be helpful to know a bit more about each school.

    Is your current school a small LAC or a large university ?

    If a small LAC dominated by Greek life, then a transfer might be a wise move.

    If you currently attend a large university, then there should be many options to meet others who are not into the Greek party scene.

    Although lonliness is not uncommon when moving away from home & adjusting to a new life at a college or university, some people just function better in different environments.

    Just by applying to transfer you should experience some relief because you are taking a step to help yourself. Nevertheless, it is important to make the most of your current opportunities. Joining a club and a religious group are great efforts to assimilate on your part.
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  • inthegardeninthegarden 1196 replies24 threads Senior Member
    Big hugs to you. It IS hard. You are normal. Time will tell whether you need to transfer, but give it your best shot this semester.

    Is your school very small? Small colleges can be wonderful, but they can be more difficult if the dominent culture is not a good fit for you because it's harder to find a critical mass of compatible people. However, even finding a small handful of people you like can make all the difference.

    The most immediate advice I can give you at this uncomfortable in-between moment is: make SURE you're getting some heart-pumping exercise every day (and eating healthy food) even if you're not the athletic type. Even if it's the last thing you want to do. Even if you're sure you don't enjoy exercise while you're doing it. Because really, there's almost nothing so immediately effective at giving your mood a boost. Exercise makes your body release feel-good endorphins and lowers anxiety-producing toxic cortisol. Maybe it doesn't directly give you new friends, but it can make the lonely feelings less painful, give you a happy, cleaned out feeling, more complete within yourself. And that gives you a more confident and positive vibe, and THAT can attract the right people to you. Plus, you can get to know people who have that common activity, whether it's working out on machines, swimming, running, bicycling, playing frisby, or taking very brisk walks.

    Good luck to you!
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  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 13020 replies244 threads Senior Member
    there's almost nothing so immediately effective at giving your mood a boost. Exercise makes your body release feel-good endorphins and lowers anxiety-producing toxic cortisol. Maybe it doesn't directly give you new friends, but it can make the lonely feelings less painful, give you a happy, cleaned out feeling, more complete within yourself.

    So true. Even a nice long not-that-strenuous walk, with or without music, does that for me. I have to remind myself to do it sometimes, when I feel depressed for some reason. It helps my mood within 24 hours, if not sooner.
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  • GreenwichParkGreenwichPark 46 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Do you know the number one reason people become friends? PROXIMITY. We literally become friends with those we are around the most, so that means bopping around everywhere isn't necessarily the best way to make friends. What you are doing is the right way, give yourself the opportunity to get together with the same group of people A LOT.

    You are probably used to being around friends you've known for years, you forget it took weeks and months to get to know each other. Unfortunately that's how real friends are made, it takes time. If you like your roommate have you considered confiding in her and asking if she might take you along with her sometimes? If you like her, good chances are you'll like her friends. You need to try and see certain groups A LOT. So once in the club go to EVERYTHING they do. By seeing the same group a few times a week you have a good chance of making friends. The worst thing you can do is try something once and never go back. Go back 6 times or so to be sure there isn't anyone there you can gel with. By joining groups and going along regularly you become a recognizable face that people can approach.

    Have you tried an intramural sport? A good idea is something like a hiking club where you spend hours together and really have to talk. Or some interest with regular travel where you all take road trips. We all needs hours and hours of time with people to make close friends, so being in any activity that takes hours of time speeds up friendships.

    A job on campus is another good idea (as mentioned up thread) or volunteering to help in a department or major that interests you. Then you KNOW you will meet people with a similar interest.

    Your experience is totally normal and you are doing everything right, just keep at it. If you feel low confide in your roommate or go and talk to a counselor. Talking about it will relieve the stress. Come back and tell us how it's going!
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  • GreenwichParkGreenwichPark 46 replies2 threads Junior Member
    P.S. just a reminder that the early days of friendship are the "awkward" days. You don't know each other very well so it can feel weird, but don't give up! Sticking with it through the "getting to know you" transition is how friendships are formed and deepen.

    If you strike up a conversation that you enjoy with anyone, anywhere, ask to trade #s! Be proactive! Tell them you'd like to meet them again or get to know them - most people would be very flattered and happy to hear that! Initiate ways to get to know people, ask people in your dorm if they want to watch a movie together or invite hallmates in for coffee and cookies, don't be passive, show people you want to make friends!
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  • GreenwichParkGreenwichPark 46 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Here is an article by one of my daughter's best friends. She is a fantastic person and friend, so lovely and outgoing you would never imagine she would struggle with loneliness, but she is. Unfortunately it is a common experience https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2019/09/18/how-i-am-learning-live-loneliness-jesuit-college

    Here is also a great video by a Freshman
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 4477 replies18 threads Senior Member
    So your much closer then you think. The people you say "heh" to must be familiar to you. "You" need to take that next step. Everyone is looking to meet someone new and start a friendship with. It's not just you. Go that extra mile. I usually say, say hi to one person a day. Great your doing that. Now the next step is.... "Heh, I have been meaning to ask you, would you like to hang out sometime? Would you like to go to lunch? Would you like to study together? Would you like to do coffee? I don't really know many people here so would you like to do something later? Let's go to the game next week........

    Etc etc etc. Even someone in your classes. Hi, my name is Sue. What do you think of this class? So, I don't know many people here since school just started. Would you like to go to lunch if your free after this class?

    Follow through!

    Also join activities and clubs that you want to learn something new about (take chances) or something you love to do. My daughter tried square dancing.... Never really did it before and it was a riot! Met people also. She joined as stated a hiking group and they went on a weekend trip together. She knew no one but came away with people she does stuff with. She joined a boating house that rents kayaks etc. Met people there. She has a job in a local coffee shop and meets tons of students that way.

    My sons first roommate was like your. Nice guy but he hung out with his high school buddies and didn't really invite my son. I wish my son would of been bold and just say "heh, I don't know anyone here can I join you with your friends tonight" It's hard to do I know.

    Look at Facebook for your college for things to do.

    It's early in the game. Things will get better. Usually study groups are posted
    Join one even if you don't need it! Great way to meet people plus it might help you in your classes.

    My son did do a meet up group also but started a club that has taken off

    So those kids are his peeps.
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  • PublisherPublisher 8536 replies91 threads Senior Member
    @GreenwichPark : The America Magazine article was depressing. Other than to suggest that she seek counseling, I would encourage her to take charge of her life in areas that she can control such as daily exercise, reading and volunteering.

    Sometimes you just have to make your own way in life rather than wait for life to come to you.

    I do not mean to downplay the seriousness of a young adult experiencing lonliness during her first time away from home, but I do think that she could have received better advice than, essentially, just give it time and everything will be fine.

    This is a time for growth and for development of one's rapidly changing self identity. Often it is not easy--that's why they are referred to as "growing pains". But you just have to leave your comfort zone in order to grow and, sometimes, that means dealing with a bit of isolation & lonliness. Better to view this stage of life as change & growth rather than as rejection.
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  • betsanatorbetsanator 1 replies1 threads New Member
    Honestly, I only chose it because it’s a really good in-state, public school. My first choice was an out of state school that is not nearly as prestigious of a school, but the out of state tuition was too much. I knew absolutely nothing about the school when I accepted admission.
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  • MusakParentMusakParent 1022 replies9 threads Senior Member
    If it's an instate public, there's a good chance that there is something and someone for everyone. I think when you're at a big school like this is easy to see the loud people and the people partying. Look for the people sitting alone or in a small group. Find the off beat clubs that speak to you. Attend their events consistently for 4-6 weeks to see if it's really for you.

    I'm a parent now. I had an awful freshman year at my first colleges. Guess what. Rough transition at college #2 as well. It can just be a difficult transition anywhere. Look around. Many people are in the same boat. If you are doing well academically, like your roomie, and are trying some other aspects of campus life. You really are doing better than many making this same transition. Making sure you are getting some fresh air and exercise is a great idea. Eat regular meals - pick some fruits and veggies.

    I'm not saying don't transfer. I would just say don't assume transferring is going to be magical and transformative. I'd want there to be a very compelling reason before I'd be excited about my kid transferring. And if part of the reason you chose your school is financial, it may not be easy for your parents to make a leap to a more expensive school.
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