Starting college during a global pandemic was definitely a challenging experience. I was an incoming first-year fall of 2020, at the peak of the pandemic. After months of being alone at home, I was in a social environment with 2,500+ students my age. Orientation/move-in week moves fast, so here are some tips on how to meet people at RIT during and after New Student Orientation.
1. Make the most of New Student Orientation
New Student Orientation at RIT is a great way to meet people outside of your major. In my case, there was only one other film production major in my group of roughly 20 students. Orientation has many ice-breaking activities, which provide good opportunities to talk to and meet students in your group. For example, a fun activity was the Turbo Hustle; everyone in my year knew it by the end of orientation. During orientation, you get to know your group and have a go-to group of students who have been there since your first day on campus. Your orientation group is based on the day you move in, so be sure to check your RIT email on your move-in day. New Student Orientation allowed me to meet more people that I would never have run into otherwise, and I’m still friends with some of them today.
2. Keep your door open during move-in week
My first-year roommate and I had our door open and played music. Many students came up and said “hi” in passing. We ended up meeting a majority of the people on our floor by having an open door. My floor would hang out in the hall or common area doing homework and hanging out. Our floor’s favorite activities included watching ice hockey games on the TV in the common area and an occasional floor movie night. If you have fun ideas for your floor don’t be afraid to ask your RA. I spoke to my RA and we arranged a floor glow night by lining the hallway with glow sticks and playing music, all before quiet hours!
3. Take advantage of central areas
On the Dorm Side of campus there are two spots that are popular for students to hang out at. One of the two is the lounge area outside of Beanz, located in Grace Watson Hall. There is smooth coffee shop, music, and a constant flow of people since it is right outside of one of the main dining hall, Gracie’s. You can always find people socializing around the coffee tables, playing DND, card games, and playing video games on the TV there. A lot of people go there since you can spend dining dollars at Beanz or use dining dollars at the vending machines located at the tunnel entrance next to Beanz. Pro tip: you can get to Beanz by taking the tunnels, which is great once all of the snow comes.
Another dorm-side food-related place that many first-years hang out at is The Commons (also tunnel accessible). I went there for meals daily my first year on campus. My friends and I would take the tunnels there, pick a table, and talk for hours. I also would run into people I knew from class or my residence hall all of the time.
4. Join a club
Another way to meet people with similar interests is joining clubs. There will be a club fair this fall so be sure to check RIT Campus Groups for club meetings, the club fair, and other social events on campus. I joined the club field hockey team and helped start a collegiate DECA chapter during my first year at RIT. I have met many people with similar interests by participating in clubs on campus. There is also special interest groups on campus listed here. I am an off-floor member of RIT’s Photo House. As an off-floor member, I can still participate in events and trips. It is another great way to meet people with similar interests.
5. Just say "hi"
I met some of my closest friends just by saying hello! At the start of my first semester, the weather was beautiful at night. A popular activity was walking up and down the Quarter Mile with friends while listening to music. I met so many people by walking around campus.
RIT is a very welcoming community. Don’t be afraid to leave your room. Everyone here is new and nervous. The start of college is a significant milestone that you are all embarking on. Enjoy your time and make the most of it.