Small Talk, Big Impact for New Students

Small Talk, Big Impact for New Students

Over the weekend, I spent time with my boyfriend’s brothers and close friends at a BBQ. I always have a great time hanging out with this group, though I don’t know a lot of the people too closely yet. I am still, to many of them, a new addition to the group. Luckily for me, I feel at ease in situations like that, but I did find myself staying close to my boyfriend’s side, as there was no one else I could just jump into a conversation with.

Even luckier, though, the people I was with all naturally make the people around them feel welcomed, connected and engaged. Even though they have all known each other for practically a lifetime, they made me feel that I had been there that whole time too. They do this in little ways, and it makes a world of difference.

One little way that stuck out at me was a simple gesture on the part of my boyfriend’s brother’s wife. I have met her a few times, and we clicked immediately. Throughout the BBQ this weekend, Katie would come up to me and say,

Hey, Sabina! What’s going on?

It sounds so simple, but I knew that she was trying to make sure I was comfortable in a place where I was the “new girl.” Just knowing that she was making the effort meant a lot to me. Those two sentences really sounded like:

Hey, Sabina, I want you to know we like having you here and that you should feel like family.

As a student leader at this time of year, you will run into a lot of new students who are feeling like the odd one out. Amidst the big events, the orientation programs, and the mixers, remember that it’s in the 2 sentences you go out of your way to say to a student one-on-one that will make the difference. A student will remember that more than the carnival themed orientation night because they will know that YOU care about THEM as an individual, not just one of the hundreds of incoming students.

But don’t stop at orientation! You can make someone feel welcomed with a small gesture like this at many moments:

  • Before or after class – “Can you believe that homework assignment?”
  • In the cafeteria – “Hey, do you mind if I sit with you?”
  • At the next dance – “I can’t dance to this song either, how do you move to dubstep anyway?”
  • A club meeting – “Did we meet yet?”
  • Online at the financial aid office or bookstore – “You’d think they’d be faster about taking our money, huh, haha.”

See, easy peezy, and that person will walk away knowing a new friendly face, and feeling like they belong at your institution.

Go get ’em!

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