9 Helpful Tips To Make Good First Impressions in College

Last Updated on August 9, 2022 by David Shaw

Tips to make Good First Impressions in College

First impressions in college are important to help you make friends and create good relationships with people. Although it might seem effortless for some people to make friends in college, there might be small little details of work people have put into the process behind the scenes.

Giving good first impressions for others help you in many surprising ways when you least expect them, and just like doing good deeds, putting in the effort to do it will definitely reward you in the long run.

The good news is that like many other things, giving others a good first impression is a part of communication skills you can learn and be good at. In this article, we talk about some physical and mental attributes you can learn to help make good first impressions for others in college.

Prepare and Present a Proper Image of Yourself

Students with different outfits

By preparing yourself, we don’t mean practice speaking to yourself in front of a mirror before meeting or approaching people. Presenting a good and appropriate image of yourself can simply mean maintaining good personal hygiene.

You’ve probably heard enough stories of how messy or unhygienic some college students can be, but you should at the very least brush your teeth, floss, or recently showered if you are going to meet people on the same day.

If you simply are not cleaning up enough after yourself, things like bad breath or body odor can easily bring discomfort to people, thus leaving very bad first impressions. Some people even take these gestures of presenting yourself hygienically toward others as a sign of mutual respect.

As for your attire, avoid wearing outfits that are slightly worn out or those you wear for sleeping, college students typically wear very simple outfits like a t-shirt, hoodie, sweatpants, and joggers. If you’re not even the slightest into fashion, any pair of these outfits should help you blend into any community of college students easily without a problem.

Put in an Effort Remembering Their Names

Remembering people’s names after they introduce themselves is simply a very courteous detail that lets people have a very good first impression of you. Often the case, people put very less thought into remembering people’s names but rather the inner-dialogue of the conversation, or the physical aspects of the other person.

Such small gestures of remembering people’s names make certain people feel that you respect and value their significance, which they might start naturally treating you nicely out of respect in return. It also makes them feel appreciated and significant and shows that you’re a humble individual that’s not just choosing more ‘socially qualified’ individuals to befriend with.

Few tips and methods I typically use to remember people names are:

  • Repeat their names aloud clearly. E.g. Nice meeting you, David.
  • Associate their name to a famous person, a song, or a movie. E.g. Peter > Peter Parker > Spider Man
  • Use their names during the conversation. E.g. So what do you feel about this Philoshophy class, Sophie?
  • Politely request them to repeat their name through the end of the conversation.

If you make seem effortless to address someone’s name the next time you meet them, you can be sure it’ll definitely surprise them or put a smile on their face.

Be Kind and Respectful

kindness is a superpower quote

Have you ever encountered a professional who was just so kind and respectful at their job that it is even hard to become annoyed or unreasonable? If we can incorporate kindness and respect while conversing with people, it makes simple and brief interactions between you and others very soothing and comfortable. If you simply can achieve that, people will simply have good expectations of their next encounter with you and will very much look forward to it.

Aside from being kind, if you possess a high emotional quotient, you can even give positive impressions around those you interact with without additional effort. Whether if it’s a serious or casual conversation with people, people will enjoy talking to you and will be happy to involve themselves in long and meaningful conversations with you.

My advice is to make friends with people of all cultural backgrounds, and don’t judge people by their race and you will naturally be able to exhibit kindness while talking to others. Practice this skill if you’re a new dormitory resident or tenant, buy some gifts for your neighbors to break the ice with kind and genuine intentions of building relationships.

Give A Firm Handshake


A firm handshake when you first meet someone or when parting is a simple yet significant gesture that can set the tone and the perception of certain energy you wish to show for others. Professional and influential figures like politicians or businessmen always give handshakes, and that is to portray the tone and the perception of their abilities.

As a college student, you can give firm handshakes to impart a tone of enthusiasm of meeting someone. Like how putting your arms across your friend’s shoulder can show care, and embracing someone means love or high-fiving someone can show closeness or affection. A good handshake is the best yet simple gesture to set the tone of the earnestness or respect you show in a friendly or serious relationship.

If you ever need to properly greet a senior or the other way around at any point in a conversation, always give a firm handshake as a good opportunity to impart emotional awareness through this simple form of physical contact. Especially on professional or big occasions, you can be sure that you will likely leave a good impression on others if you give a firm handshake because many others will not.

By learning to give firm handshakes at an early age in college, you can be sure to receive compliments and leave good impressions on remarkable figures down the road someday.

Be Generous With Your Time


If anyone ever needs help when they approach you or the other way around, be generous with the time in sharing your knowledge with people. Offering your help to students on campus can have many perks especially if it’s the first encounter between both two people. Not only do you leave a good impression on others, but will also likely create new friendships by just being generous with your knowledge or time helping others.

As a tutor at my college, I once taught two new international students during my shift how to navigate through the class registration process on our college website. Although the whole process took more than 30 minutes, I also took the opportunity to show them other features on the student portal website in detail. Not only did I give them a very good first impression, but I also manage to make two new friends from two different countries that day.

Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.

Albert Camus

From then on, I was occasionally invited to join their club events, and which I was introduced to more of their friends, where I was widely regarded as the ‘friendly tutor’ from the campus tutoring center.

Just from that simple act of mine, I learned that generosity with our time rewards us in many ways, which also can help imprint very positive impressions on people in college.

Get Involved in a Little Bit of Everything Around Campus

student gathering

Regardless of which college or university you go to, there will be interesting events or activities going on around campus from time to time. If you know of cool or upcoming events in your college that students will like, spread the word, have fun and simply be part of it.

If you can participate in very simple campus activities like helping in a booth stand, passing out flyers, or working in big campus buildings, then people will recognize you as the outgoing student on campus, which potentially leaves a positive impression on them.

I personally volunteered in many campus events during my college days like the club day booths, food drive banks, social awareness campaigns, and many other volunteering activities around campus. By simply doing my job and passing around positive vibes, I was able to meet, interact, and make a lot of friends with many students that are constantly moving around campus.

If you’re already putting yourself out there and doing a good job, then people around campus will already recognize you and understand a little about you, which lets you make friends easily. Plus, if you’re actively involved in campus activities, there’s a good chance you will also be close to certain college faculties which add something extra to your overall college experience.

Express Enthusiasm in Conversations

college girl with enthusiasm

Social interaction can be conducted in many ways and manners, and if you want to impress people, you don’t always have to prove it with your actions. Even if someone were just to ask you questions or strike up a conversation with the intention to befriend you, can easily feed them with your enthusiasm throughout the conversation with the choice of words and attitude.

Showing enthusiasm lets people feel that you’re always cheerful and smiling, which sometimes helps make the biggest problem feel easy to solve. People will not only remember you for your high spirits but might also be influenced by your positivity.

Aside from the words you use, you can even express enthusiasm even with the tone of your voice. In a TEDx talk on ‘Intentional Enthusiasm’ by Sonny Melendrez, he talked about 3 things you should focus on to show enthusiasm:

  • Belief – That you can be whatever you what yourself to be, and have confidence that you’ll achieve it
  • Vision – Have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish
  • Gratitude – Be thankful for what you currently have

Melendrez also shared how a person with enthusiasm can even make the experience at a drive-through restaurant a ‘5-star service’ in his talk.

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance

Eckhart Tolle

Be Attentive to Small Details

People you meet in college typically would engage in small talks about things related to their homework or just any small things related to their personal life. Whether you’re engaged in a casual or quick conversation with someone you’ve just met, being attentive sometimes can help make someone’s day, and you bet that can leave great impressions on people on you.

If you’re attentive enough to pick up small details within the dialogue, you can chime in, not in a nosy way, with good intentions if you can provide a solution to their problem. Sometimes this doesn’t have to apply to the first encounter, but if you can offer them a solution or help with something they recently need help with, it will work just fine as it will probably come as a surprise to them.

I remembered how I helped a person while tutoring in my college after he briefly mentioned about looking for new housing because his brother was coming over to study. After our conversation, I happen to know someone who could help, and simply brought it up to him the next time I met him on campus. I ended up doing him a big favor with this simple gesture of mine of just passing the word around. After that we became friends, and he still felt very thankful and indebted because he found help in the least expected way.

Simply being extra attentive and picking up all details in conversations with people will reward you in the most unexpected ways, and you can be sure it definitely helps leave a good impression of you on others.

Be Open Minded to New Ideas

If you’re regularly around campus, it should be no surprise if you’re encountered by random individuals promoting a club, event, or social campaign that is not of your primary interests. When subjected to such situations, before you decline right away or take a rude stance against their approach, you can instead ask or listen to their opinions first.

Whether the prompt interaction was a discussion about politics, civil, human rights, or just about campus-related questions, simply learn to listen first and be open-minded to new ideas before we speak our personal opinion. Often times before we carefully process our thoughts, we carelessly throw out rude or biased remarks which can greatly impact your public image around campus.

Especially in liberal countries like the US, if you partake in discussions that touch on sensitive topics, listen to what others have to say before causing insignificant or heated discussions. Sometimes there are can be interesting things you can learn from it, and if you can a good response, people will receive it very respectfully thus giving you a good reputation.

More Resources

How to Avoid Getting Caught on Chegg: Tips and Facts to Know

Best Easy-A Classes to Boost Your GPA in College

9 Helpful Benefits Students Get From Summer Classes

David Shaw

I enjoy blogging about the college experience, teaching people how to navigate and hack their way through college. I also enjoy promoting financial literacy among young individuals.

Recent Posts