Table for 60 Please: Colgate’s First-Year Friendships

Brett Ekberg

Wolves travel in packs, buffalo in herds, and fish in schools. But freshmen? Freshmen seem to defy any classification known to the animal kingdom. If you’re anything like me, I’m sure your parents have told you that one of the greatest things about college is that you’re “on your own” for the first time.

That would be true, if it weren’t for the fact that as freshman we seem to love surrounding ourselves with 59 of our closest friends and feel positively buck naked in groups of fewer than four. Is it just me or are we taking the whole “safety in numbers” adage a little too literally? I mean honestly, I’ve spotted groups walking through the quad that are large enough to invade, and probably conquer, Canada.

As a freshman myself, I totally understand, and embrace, the herd mentality. Personally, I rarely go anywhere without my entire floor, a girl from the third floor and, just for good measure, my best friend from high school who happens to live in East.

While it might infuriate the upperclassmen that have to navigate around us, as freshmen, having a large group of friends makes sense. In the extensive research I did for this article (I really only asked about four people for their opinion but hey, I’m no Anderson Cooper) the most common explanation for this phenomenon was something like, “it makes me feel normal,” or, “I just like having a bunch of people to talk to.” Apparently the freshmen drug of choice is friendship; it’s our version of Zoloft, except instead of one bouncing ball/head-thing you get 60. It should be no surprise, then, that the result is complete contentment with large groups. And, as an added bonus, you can never overdose! No one has ever died from too much friendship. For me, and I’m assuming that I’m a pretty normal freshman here, having such a large group of friends around actually does make me feel like I belong.

It also does a pretty decent job of ameliorating any feelings of homesickness. And it’s way better than a pint of Cherry Garcia, anyway. Sometimes it gets a little rough when you try to reference an inside-joke from high school, only to be faced with a group-wide awkward silence. One of my roommates, for example, still visibly cringes when I use the word “legit,” a staple of my high school vocabulary. As time progresses and groups get smaller and smaller, I’m sure it will be fun to go back and look at the pictures from the first couple weeks of school and go, “Wow, I can’t believe we fit that many people in a dorm room! Wouldn’t the fire marshal be pissed!” But, for now at least, consider these little nuggets that I’ve come up with from all my time in college. So what if I’ve been here less than two weeks! You’ve read the rest of the column — why stop now?

1. Enjoy traveling around in a herd. Bonus points for amassing a group of more than 100.

2. Be sure to friend everyone you meet on Facebook, because there’s nothing like being able to learn everything about a new friend’s past in 30 seconds. Plus, it’s a great way to remember their names.

3. Send someone into meals early to move the tables around, preferably a varsity athlete because they’re significantly more intimidating.

4. Remember that your friends are your family, only you get to pick and choose who’s in it. Do yourself a favor and don’t always go with people you’re related to. Sometimes the weird kid who smelled a little funny on the first day can turn out to be one of your best friends. I mean, hey, that’s how it worked with my roommate!