Facebook connects incoming freshmen

College social media groups used to find potential roommates and friends

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Facebook connects incoming freshmen

Liebovich

Liebovich

Liebovich

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Facebook groups are a popular way for high school seniors to connect with their future college classmates online. Incoming freshmen at a particular college join these groups to share information, hobbies, or to get to know each other in advance.

These groups often serve as a way to relieve the stress of making friends at a new school. Many high school seniors worry about finding college friends, with 65% of students in a survey by The Medium saying they feared being alone in college.

“I always think it’s better to meet in person, but I think there is a certain comfort level [in meeting friends online],” said Post High School Counseling adviser Robert Zigmund. “You could potentially meet roommates and [Facebook groups] facilitate the process.”

More than in the past, college freshmen have a say in who they share a dorm room with. According to Rolling Stone, 70% of colleges now let freshmen choose their roommates, and the process can be much easier when students are in the same Facebook group.

“I definitely plan to join [a Facebook group] when I get to college,” said senior Jack Massey. “I’ll probably use it to find a roommate.”

Senior Jake Becker added, “I think [college Facebook groups] are a good way to meet new people. I would consider joining one for sure.”

However, a study by the University of Missouri showed heavy Facebook usage can lead to symptoms of envy, anxiety and depression, all of which high school students face at one time or another. Turning to college Facebook groups as a primary way to meet people could possibly amplify these emotions.

Some solutions to the worries that incoming freshmen face are the options colleges provide to accustom new students to their school, according to Zigmund. “I think the things that have greater potential for reducing anxiety are the things that college campuses do, such as summer orientation or special days for students [to meet peers and professors].”

High school seniors using college Facebook groups often try to find a social niche or fraternity, but the main purpose is to get a feel for the college environment.

A Purdue study from 2007 said college students would prefer to make one lifelong friend in college rather than have a group of friends that aren’t as close, and it is less likely to find a close friend online than in person.

Students are prioritizing schoolwork over socializing, which is part of the reason college students are spending less time with friends per week. Finding friends or extracurricular groups on Facebook is also more time-efficient than meeting in person.

“I have had a pretty good experience with Facebook groups,” said college freshman Olivia Rogers, a New Trier alum. “I decided to join one because that seemed like the ‘normal’ thing to do. I think they can be a good way [to connect with future classmates], but a lot of the time people act a certain way because they think that’s what other people would want in a roommate. It can be deceiving.”

Instagram has also began incorporating college-geared features into its app. Users can join their college community to “connect with other students,” and are added into a list with their classmates. While this feature is still in the early stages of development, it is another option for a younger crowd who prefers Instagram to Facebook.

“I found my roommate on Instagram, but a lot of schools use Facebook [to find roommates],” said Rogers. “I have met some amazing people that I know I will be friends with for a long, long time.”

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