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How to Make a Big College Seem Smaller

Creating a sense of community at a giant university can be a challenge. But once you find your niche, it'll feel just like home.


  • Step 1: Get involved in your major All departments have a plethora of academic groups, research opportunities, and mentoring tracks. If you have a major in mind, getting involved with these activities can help shrink an intimidating school and introduce you to students with similar interests.
  • Step 2: Interact in lectures At big lectures, sit in the first few rows of class and don't be afraid to throw your hand up occasionally to ask a question or make a comment. Not only will you make new friends by sitting in the same area everyday, but if you get the professor to notice you, those 300-seat lecture halls will start to feel like actual classrooms.
  • TIP: Each semester, try mixing in at least one class – whether it's an elective or a requirement – that only has 20 or so students.
  • Step 3: Talk with your professors Visit professors during office hours. Whether you stop by to seek help with an assignment or just to chat, talking with your teachers one-on-one is a great way to get specialized attention.
  • Step 4: Join activities One upside to a big school is that it offers a ton of campus organizations catering to specific interests. Intramural sports, the student literary journal, Greek life, improv comedy – it's hard not to find at least one activity that suits you.
  • TIP: If there's a specific club or activity your college doesn't offer, start one yourself.
  • Step 5: Make dorm friends Being comfortable and happy where you live is crucial. See if your university offers any catered residence halls – such as alcohol-free or 24-hour quiet dorms – where you can meet like-minded students. In regular dorms, create a sense of community by organizing study groups and movie nights.
  • Step 6: Find old friends If you stayed in state for college, there's a good chance some of the people you went to high school with are just around the corner or down the street. Look up any classmates you know – even if you weren't all that close – and see what they're up to. Chances are they're just as anxious to have a few familiar faces around and would be thrilled to hear from you.
  • TIP: The summer before school starts, find upperclassmen from your high school or hometown that can share some advice about college life.
  • Step 7: Become a regular Find a restaurant or coffeehouse near campus where students converge and become a regular there. Securing a designated hangout spot is a great way to give a campus more of a homey feel.
  • FACT: With over 53,000 students, The Ohio State University in Columbus is the biggest U.S. college.

You Will Need

  • An interest in education
  • Some self-motivation

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