As soon as Liang Jincheng wakes up every morning, he logs in to his QQ account and chats with his new friends.
Offline, the 19-year-old freshman-to-be of Hunan University of Science and Technology finds real-life communication with strangers difficult, and he is clumsy and awkward. He used to worry about whether he would be lonely when he was thrown into college life.
So Liang made sure he had a head start. He spent the summer vacation building his social network at the university he will enter in September. Thanks to his early preparation, he has got acquainted with several other freshmen-to-be in the QQ group. He has already made plans with them for basketball matches during orientation week.
Many youngsters become social butterflies in the summer vacation before going to college. For many this is the first time they will leave sweet home and childhood friends to deal with roommates and classmates on their own. Anxiety about finding new friends is understandable.
A report by MyCOS suggests that interpersonal relationships are the second biggest problem experienced by freshmen. The report looked at 14,066 students of the 2013 Class and 20,385 students of the 2014 Class during the first semester of their freshman year. Respectively 41.3 percent and 38.2 percent of the respondents were worried about socializing and what others thought about them.
Besides potential buddies in the same grade, these online socialites are eager to get to know college seniors. Apparently, they can advise which textbooks to buy for a particular course and how to apply for a particular school club.
It’s also tempting to think that a good relationship with VIPs in the Student Union and school clubs may help you to get a head start in these groups.
Liang wants to work at the Student Union at college. Among a number of QQ groups for the 2015 Class, he chose the one set up by the Union. The administrators of the QQ group are all leaders in the union.
Liang can consult them about the work at the union. If he is lucky, he may also win favor from some big figures even before the interviews are held.
"Of course, I hope that I can get bonus points in the interviews because of my good relationship with the interviewers,” Liang admitted. “A soldier should sharpen his sword before stepping onto the battlefield.”
Chen Yingyi, a counselor at Shenzhen University, has found that more and more college students are intentionally managing their social lives, and feels this is inappropriate. “Without critical thinking, young people are easily influenced by some unhealthy ideas, such as exaggerated role of guanxi, or social connections,” he said.
Liu Xidan, 19, will be a sophomore majoring in business administration at Northeast Normal University next semester. In her opinion, nepotism in the workplace has crept onto campus. She believes this is partly to blame for the craze among freshmen-to-be for chumming up to “influential” upperclassmen.
Liu said: “The leaders of student organizations prefer those who are polite and obedient to those who are competent.”
However, counselor Yang Min at Shanghai International Studies University emphasizes that an employee’s ability is still the primary concern. “Your work performance will be under spotlight,” she warned students. “If you make a mistake, people will belittle your competency, even if you are not that incapable.”
Yang advises students to shake off “worldly wisdom” during college years and enjoy campus life. She said: “Find several genuine friends in an honest way. Don’t make friends without the intention of keeping them. Friends indeed can be friends in need after graduation.”