Dear Freshmen: How to Connect with Upperclassmen: Do’s and Don’ts

By Andrew T. Nickerson

With only freshmen and a handful of upperclassmen on campus, getting to know the people around you is far harder than usual. One of the best ways to adjust to college is by talking to upperclassmen — people who have gone through the same things you are going through right now. However, there are some good ways to reach out to people in other class years… and some bad ways too. Enjoy some tips from an upperclassman for sending a successful first message over Zoom or GroupMe.

DO: Ask Questions

All of the upperclassmen know the campus, have taken online courses, have dealt with professors, and more. For almost anything you are struggling with, there will be other students who struggled with it too and will know what to do. Take advantage of this resource, especially since we upperclassmen have no use for this knowledge once our four years are up. Let us pass the information on!

DON’T: Complain Nonstop

Yes, I know college is hard and you’re drowning with work. I don’t need to hear about how many all-nighters you’ve pulled or how it’s so unfair that your classes already have exams. We were all freshmen, and you have the other people in the class to commiserate with if that’s what you really want. If you really are that busy, why are you wasting both of our time? (We mean that in the nicest way possible.)

DO: Tell Them Why You Reached Out

Maybe they are in one of your classes and had a great discussion post or said something insightful in lecture. Maybe they seem like a fun person in one of the clubs you joined. Everyone likes a genuine compliment and will be much more receptive to starting a conversation if you let them know why you are here. NOTE: THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE HITTING ON PEOPLE. Please do not try to hit on someone over Zoom (but if you want to, check out our other Ok Zoomer article first!).

DON’T: Explain How You Want to Get Around the Rules

Most upperclassmen are stuck off campus with little hope of returning this year if freshmen don’t follow social distancing protocols. Your party stories and questions on how to sneak people into your room aren’t cool — they’re upsetting. We know that you envisioned your first semester of college to be more fun than this, but don’t ruin our chance at having even a semblance of a last semester of college by selfishly flouting the rules.

DO: Be Yourself

These are other students, not professors or TFs! You should feel comfortable expressing your personality, whether that’s mentioning interests or cracking jokes. Genuine always reads better than trying to be what you think they will like. Most people want to get to know others, especially after being locked away for 6 months, so they’ll be excited to feel like they’re actually getting to know another person.

DON’T: Lead With Your Accomplishments

Sorry, but no one cares. What you did in high school will come up naturally, so don’t be the pushy person who needs to let everyone know about their perfect SAT score the moment you meet. It’s really not going to score you any points here.

If you’re thinking about reaching out to the people around you, try to follow these tips and remember that people like meeting genuinely interesting and kind people. We all are trying to be there for you, so make our jobs easier by being yourself.

Flyby BlogFlyby CampusFlyby Front FeatureFeatures and SeriesCoronavirus

Harvard Today

The latest in your inbox.

Sign Up

Follow Flyby online.