At some point on the first day of Orientation, a sudden realization hits many a first-year: there are a lot of new people here (and one or two of them are hot!). Winning the friend lottery from this mass of people requires mastery of multiple tactics:

Talk to random strangers.  Within a few short weeks, Columbians will start avoiding eye contact in the elevator just like real New Yorkers.

Get to know your floor.  You can either partake in late-night antics, or you can awkwardly maneuver past Super Smash Brothers and/or Project Runway marathons on the way to the bathroom.

Join clubs.  Birds of a feather flock together, and in a big school, it’s sometimes the only way to find them. It’s considerably more accurate than clicking your interests on Facebook.

Speaking of Facebook, meet people in real life.  Just because you and your online friends both love Wall-E and hate Juno doesn’t make you soul mates.

But do friend the people you meet in real life.  Last names are comforting, and will clarify your phone’s address book.

Complain about the Iliad.  Everyone describes their passion for the Great Books in their Columbia application, and everyone still scrambles to finish, with limited success.

Ditto for John Jay. But make sure to go there with potential friends – nothing rubs in homesickness like eating alone.

Don’t mention the SAT
.  The U.S. News rankings will inevitably come up, and things can only go downhill from there.

Remember that everyone is as socially awkward as you are.  Even if they’re pretending not to be.