As the Director of Counseling Services at Cheshire Academy, I often hear from students who are looking for help fitting in. While Cheshire Academy is a high school, trouble fitting in can start as early as middle school, especially when it comes to making friends, so I put together some guidance on how to make friends in middle school.
It’s important to remember that you should expect middle school to be different. Most students are going to feel just the way that you do. Your brain is changing more rapidly than any other time in your life so you might not feel like yourself. But all circuits will get connected eventually and you will emerge more confident and have a greater understanding of yourself.
Even though many students might feel the same way as you, there are still some things you can try to help fit in. Here are some ideas:
Join a club. Schools usually have lots of activities and clubs for you to try. Joining a club makes it easier to meet people, plus it helps you get to know other students as you spend regular time doing an activity together. Even if you don’t meet a great friend, being a part of a club will help you have more fun and be more active in your school. Although Cheshire Academy is a high school, we have clubs ranging from Science Olympiad to Candy Club; we try to have a diversity of options to match our diverse student body. Your school might be the same way! Check out what clubs your school offers to see if any appeal to you.
Take advantage of your classes. There will be opportunities in your classes to work together in groups. This could be a great time to make a friend. Your teachers might also have some ideas. Teachers know their students and might know someone who shares your interests and could be a good friend.
Be brave. If you see someone sitting alone, get up the courage to go talk with them. It is easier to get to know people one on one rather than in groups. Start the conversation with a compliment. It will make the person feel good. Look for students sitting alone in the cafeteria. They would probably enjoy having someone to sit with. This person may not become your best friend but it is a good way to get to know someone. Speaking of ways to be helpful, offer to tutor a student who struggles in a class that you are good at.
Seek out like-minded students. Look for friends who support who you want to be. If you are a good student, hang out with other good students. If you want to be happy, hang out with happy students. If you are an athlete, look for other athletes to work out with. Be yourself because that is the best person you can be.
Confide in an adult. See your advisor or counselor for more ideas about fitting in. Peer counselors are students who are trained to help you. They might have some ideas about making friends. As the school counselor myself, I am always happy to meet with students to see how they can best maximize their experience at school.
While making friends in middle school can be challenging, know that you are not alone and many students struggle to make connections with their classmates. Finding friends does often get easier in high school, especially if you attend your best-fit school. If you’re not sure if your school is right for you and are thinking about exploring different options for high school, I’d encourage you to read this article: “6 Reasons You Might Switch Schools,” and download our free student achievement checklist to evaluate whether or not your school is helping you reach your full potential.