Dear Amy:

I am a college junior, very motivated and involved in school and other activities. I'm outgoing, well-respected and considered funny and fun to be around by my friends back home. But I'm struggling to make any real friendships at school.

A large part of my problem is that many students at this particular university rely on alcohol as the primary means of socializing. I moved past the world of keggers and frat parties after my freshman year.

Any relationships with people in college that seemed to have any potential fizzled out once they realized that I wasn't interested in going out three nights a week. And it's not that I pass judgment on them; I drink on occasion and have no problem with it. I just don't see it as a large part of my life.

I realize that there are students who aren't like that, but I feel as though they're in short supply, and I haven't found that I click with them, either.

I've also found that it is difficult to make real friends in school clubs and activities, as many people seem to be using them to build their resumes.

I am very busy -- I am taking a large course load and have many activities going on. I just wish that I had a good girlfriend whom I could chat with over coffee sometimes.

How can I make friends?

Socializing over alcohol doesn't end with college; you will face similar issues once you graduate. The first trick is to find people who share your values. Most colleges have dorms that are composed of people who don't drink or smoke. You should contact your housing dean for ideas about what living situation would be best for you -- for next semester or next year.

You seem to be struggling over how to connect with people, and though it sounds elementary, making new and true friends is as challenging as quantum physics. To make a friend, you have to be willing to take lots of chances while being open and tolerant. You may have to abandon your stance of standing back and judging people's behavior and motivations, and be more willing to step in and lay more of yourself on the line.

You might start by forming a study group in a favorite subject. Offer to host meetings at your dorm's lounge or at the local coffee shop. If there is somebody you think you would like to befriend, invite him or her to meet you at the dining hall or to listen to music at your local coffeehouse.

Dear Amy:

I chuckled when I read the letter from "Happy Grandma," who is obviously expecting her first grandchild and wondered whether the parents or the grandparents should decide on what name the child should call the grandparents. When my sister was expecting her first child back in the 1940s, my mother, who was Polish, wanted to be called "Busia." My dad was happy with "Grandpa."

When little Tommy started forming his first words, my mother spent hours with him saying, "Say Bu-SHA." Little Tommy would say, "Ba-Bu." Dad would say, "Say Grand-PA." Little Tommy would say, "Pep-PAN."

Dad died in his sixties and Mom in her nines, but they were forever Peppan and Babu, even when little Tommy was in his fifties. So, "Happy Grandma," the final word on how you'll be referred to by your grandchild rests with him or her -- and you're going to love it.

Ernesto Espiritu, Michigan

Thank you so much for sharing this story.

All together now: "Awwww."

Dear Amy:

One idea for the woman wanting meaningful interaction with children would be to volunteer for her local Girl Scout council. I have been volunteering since my daughter was in second grade, and she and her six remaining troop mates are now in 11th grade!

I feel that I have really been given a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in these girls' lives, and that in a very real way I have six daughters in addition to my own.

Elaine

What an excellent suggestion. Thank you.

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