Making Friends at Visitas: Do’s and Don’ts
Visitas: Your first chance to make a good impression with the people who you’ll be seeing in the dining halls, doing group projects with, and living with for the next four years. If you play your cards right, you could meet the people who will become your best friends for the next four years, or at least the people you go to all the Visitas events with over the course of the weekend! We know the pandemic has killed everyone’s social skills, so we’re here to help you with what to do and what NOT to do.
DON’T: Turn every conversation into a list of your achievements
What is this new feeling? Could it be… imposter syndrome?! We know it’s tough to feel like other people might be cooler/smarter/more deserving of the Harvard Brand than you are, but the way to alleviate that is not to try to intimidate them. You’re here to make friends with people, remember?
DO: Talk about the stuff you’re actually interested in
That said, we know you have cool, unique interests! If you talk about these (in a “I like this thing” way, not a “I have won awards in this thing” way), you might just meet someone who shares that interest. Conversation: achieved.
DON’T: Talk about the other colleges you got into
You may have spent the last year fixated on *prestigious* colleges, and you’re still probably riding the high of getting into a few of them — maybe even ones that aren’t the objectively best one (a.k.a. Harvard). But not everybody you meet will have been accepted by those same schools. Not a single person cares if you’re deciding between Harvard and Y*le. Save that conversation for your guidance counselor.
DO: Talk about what’s exciting about Harvard
There is literally one thing that everyone at Visitas has in common, and there’s no way you will ever exhaust that subject. Every time you want to say, “St*nf*rd has a better *insert department* department,” instead say, “I actually think it’s really cool that you have to take a shuttle to get to the SEC.” Easy!
DON’T: Collect LinkedIn connections
DO: Collect people’s social media (AFTER you have a conversation with them)
If you think someone’s nice and you want to keep in touch with them over the summer, they probably think the same about you! Don’t be afraid to go for it.
DON’T: Campaign for the UC as a prefrosh
Especially right now, you do NOT want to open that can of worms. You can be president when you’re 35. Calm down.
DO: Be a normal person who is trying to have normal conversations
This is it. This is the secret. Not too difficult, is it? If you’re really struggling with figuring out some conversation starters, don’t worry — we got you covered! Ask your peers: Where are you from? What are you thinking of studying? What events are you planning to visit this weekend? Do you have any plans with friends back home for the summer? What did you eat for breakfast? What Disney show did you binge last? No? Yes.
DON’T: Expect to be BFFs immediately.
You’re going to meet INSANE people. Maybe you’ll fall in love at first sight and just need to be friends with that one really amazing person. We get it, but that’s exactly the moment where you need to tell yourself to take a deep breath and slow down. Strong bonds form over time. During Visitas, everyone is trying to meet as many people as possible. When you meet someone you like, make sure to find a way to stay connected and then take your time getting to know them at a comfortable pace! You have four years together, after all.
DO: Keep an open mind!
You’ll be surprised to see where you end up making friends — will it be in line while waiting to get checked in for Visitas? Perhaps in the Zoom chats? Or maybe you bond with someone also awkwardly leaving an event early, free food in hand. The truth is, no one knows where you’ll find the person you’re destined to stay friends with during your first year and beyond. Be patient with yourself and enjoy your time on campus!
We believe in you, Class of 2026!!
Class of 2025 (now officially old enough to give advice)