It’s a tale as old as time: We befriend a person on the first day of a class who just happens to choose a seat next to us. We consider it a coincidence, but instead, we recognize it as fate (or really good odds). We spend the next few weeks of the semester making small talk during lectures or texting each other in moments of despair when we don’t understand an assignment. Our friendship exists only during the mere hour of class time and potentially the fleeting moment of saying hello at a party.
So, the question becomes: How do people make class friends into actual friends? How do we discern between friendships that are transactional and convenient versus friendships that are meant to be?
While I haven’t directly created the most perfect formula for extending relationships outside of class, I’ve begun to realize that there are some signs we can notice and invitations we can extend.
1. Ask yourself: Do you only talk about class or does your conversation flow into other topics?
While befriending academic weapons in a class is quite useful, if the conversation cannot extend outside of academics, then it may not be meant to be. Sure, proximity and convenience are what spark conversation, but we all deserve friends that are more part of our personal lives than our academic ones — there’s more to life than just school.
2. Gauge their personality
Ask yourself: Do you genuinely believe you’ll enjoy spending time with this person outside of class? Are your personalities compatible? Think about what you value in friendships and how you want to spend your already limited time. It’s possible that if both of you are extremely social or not social at all your personalities could clash. Think about what traits you would like friends to have to balance you out.
3. Ask them to study with you
By extending an invitation outside of class to continue spending time together, you’re taking the initiative to show an effort — that you for sure know their name and would recognize them on the street and say hello. Also, it’s a great opportunity to get to know them outside the classroom, find what you guys have in common and get some assignments done.
4. Ask to grab coffee
Personally, I love to call all my coffee shop hangouts coffee chats. Also, you can always tell what a person is like by the way they treat food service workers, their actual order itself and if they can hold a conversation over a cup of coffee. If they pass the coffee chat test, they’re definitely a keeper.
5. Become actual friends!
Finally, the most anticlimactic part of all is recognizing the moment when you’ve actually become friends! It is when you occasionally reach out to this person and your friendship doesn’t fizzle out over a new semester that you’ve successfully turned your class friends into actual friends.