How To Make Friends in College: 15 Helpful Approaches
College is the beginning of a new chapter in your life, and for many students, this means making new friends as they leave their hometown for the first time. Jumping headfirst into a brand new place can be intimidating, and making friends may seem impossible. Luckily, that isn’t necessarily the truth.
The 15 helpful approaches for making friends in college include:
- Attend campus events that pique your interest.
- Join a student organization on campus.
- Converse with your classmates.
- Participate in dorm-specific events.
- Attend informal events like parties or study circles.
- Hang out on or around your campus.
- Join relevant groups on social media.
- Find an internship with other students.
- Get a job on campus.
- Study abroad if you can.
- Try out a club sport.
- Make a goal for yourself.
- Keep your dorm room door open during the day.
- Make yourself available.
- Take full advantage of the first few weeks.
In this article, you’ll learn how to use different campus resources and events to meet like-minded people. And, if you’re lucky, you may even run into the composition of your future wedding party in the process.
1. Attend Campus Events That Pique Your Interest
There’s no shortage of events happening around campus, whether they be academic or social.
The student union or rec center would be the best place to stay in the know about various campus social events. The department building that handles your specific major is also an excellent place to go for academic affairs.
More often than not, these events will be free or will only charge a minimal entrance fee.
Attending events that pique your interest is good because you’re surrounded by others who enjoy the same topics and activities. It’s much easier to make friends with someone with mutual interests than the other way around.
2. Join a Student Organization on Campus
Depending on the size of your college or university, there will be several student organizations that gather. The number of organizations available may also depend on how diverse the student body is too.
Regardless of that number, there are seven different types of student organizations:
- Academic and educational: Academic and educational organizations might be a professional fraternity tied to your major/course of study or a student branch for a local chapter of a professional organization. An example of such a chapter would be the Public Relations Society of America, with the student branch being the Public Relations Student Society of America. There are branches like these for just about every major.
- Community service: A community service organization actively works toward a specific cause. For example, there are student chapters for Habitat for Humanity across the United States.
- Media and publications: If you enjoy writing or producing content, you may consider joining the campus news outlet or student newspaper. In most cases, writers and producers get paid for their work.
- Political or multicultural: There are many political and multicultural organizations at just about any college or university. You may commonly find the campus democrats or republicans campaigning during election months, campus feminist alliances protesting in the commons, or the black and Latinx student unions handing out educational materials in the student union.
- Recreation and sports: Joining a sport, whether club or professional, during your college career, is not only beneficial for finding friends, but it gives you a safeguard against putting on weight too.
- Student government: If you’re interested in advocating for student legislation and using your voice, joining student government is the way to go. Once you get confident, you may even decide to run for an office position too.
- Religious or spiritual: You’ll also find that many colleges and universities have student groups that meet regularly for just about all of the major religions practiced in the United States and around the world.
Source: TopUniversities: 7 Types of US College Student Organizations
Although Greek life is normally separated from other student organizations, it can be a great way to meet friends quickly. Despite ever-looming controversy over joining a sorority or fraternity, finding a house you click with can work wonders for your confidence. You may even find your core group of college friends this way.
Each Greek house has a different set of values and beliefs, so attending rush week and other informative sessions is important if you want to give Greek life a try.
3. Converse With Your Classmates
Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with the student next to you in your chem lab. If you’re nervous, start slow. Begin by asking them to study together at the library for next week’s test. If you’re both not feeling confident about the test, they’ll likely say yes. Once you’ve broken the ice, the conversation will start to flow more naturally.
4. Participate in Dorm-Specific Events
If you’re living on campus, you may have luck finding new friends at events that are specific to your dorm building. Whether it’s fourth-floor movie night or a twelfth-floor painting class, deciding to go to an event that you may enjoy will more than likely land you an acquaintance or two once you get there.
5. Attend Informal Events Like Parties or Study Circles
If there are two things a person associates with the college experience, it is parties and study circles. These two events are on complete opposites of the experience spectrum, but saying yes to one, or both, of them will help your social life.
Joining a study circle with a few classmates is perfect for those who are introverted and prefer a cozier, more intimate setting.
However, if you’re more outgoing, or you just want a break from general college stress, don’t be afraid to say yes to the party invite by the person who sits behind you in calculus.
6. Hang Out on or Around Your Campus
The more time you spend on and around campus, the more likely you’ll learn about different events and happenings going on. You’re more likely to know when the next food truck Friday is or the first basketball game of the season.
Hanging out on campus also means you’re more likely to meet someone organically.
If it’s a nice day and you’re laying out on the lawn behind the student union, who’s to say your next best friend isn’t about to trip over you because they weren’t paying attention accidentally? While this probably won’t be the case, the odds are never zero.
7. Join Relevant Groups on Social Media
Although this approach feels oddly similar to online dating, joining a relevant group on social media can be helpful for those who struggle with social anxiety. Facebook has even launched Facebook Campus, an exclusive space to help college students connect with others in the same major or student organization.
The entire space offers a campus-only newsfeed, a campus directory, and chatrooms that you can use in real-time.
However, it’s currently only available for a select number of colleges and universities. The availability is subject to change as the platform space continuously expands.
8. Find an Internship With Other Students
Although many organizations and companies won’t hire a first-year student into their internship program, it’s not impossible. If you already have some relevant experience for a specific internship, it’s definitely worth trying.
If you happen to get hired on, you’ll have the opportunity to work with other students in the same, or a similar, course of study as you.
9. Get a Job on Campus
While this isn’t necessarily a social activity, getting a job on campus is the best way to meet a wide variety of people. Whether it’s in a department office or at a restaurant in the student union, you’ll have the opportunity to go face-to-face with just about everyone who attends your college or university.
Not to mention, you’ll probably befriend some of your coworkers who are likely students as well.
Working on campus is an excellent way to connect with other students, and you could even try out your confidence by asking your coworkers to grab coffee together after your shifts.
10. Study Abroad if You Can
This approach may not be feasible for everyone, but studying abroad is an excellent way to meet friends if you have a travel bug. After all, you’re going to spend weeks together in the same classes and dorms.
You’re all going to be in a foreign place that many of you probably haven’t experienced before.
You’ll lean on each other for support, and that will likely follow you all back home too. Not only will you lean on each other, but you’ll get to experience new cultures and traditions together too. Studying abroad is a fast-track way to make unique and unforgettable college memories together.
11. Try Out a Club Sport
Club sports are great for anyone who doesn’t consider themselves a professional athlete but still likes to be active. There are so many different kinds of club sports available. Many colleges and universities even offer Quidditch as an option.
Whether you’re looking for a team sport like lacrosse or an individual sport like biking, there’s something for you.
12. Make a Goal for Yourself
Another way to make new friends is to challenge yourself. You could make it a goal to say hello or compliment at least one person per day for a specific period. If you’ve accomplished that, then you could reward yourself afterward.
Here are some goal ideas to inspire you:
- Give two compliments per day for one week.
- Run for a student organization seat.
- Join one professional and one social student organization.
- Ask your chemistry lab partner (or classmate from another class) to study with you.
- Go to the events your RA told everyone about.
- Say yes the next time your philosophy classmate invites you to a house party.
- Ask to sit at the same table as someone in the student union for a week.
- Make yourself go to that four-week film series your film professor is offering for extra credit.
- Respond genuinely to each introduction post in your online class.
- Invite one classmate to get coffee with you.
13. Keep Your Dorm Room Door Open During the Day
Keeping your dorm room door open may depend mainly on your roommate’s preference if you have one.
However, if you keep your door open during the day, you’ll make yourself seem more inviting to your neighbors. This approach will also depend on who your RA is and how strict they are with dorm rules.
Either way, introduce yourself to your neighbors and make yourself seem inviting and friendly. While you may not make friends with every single person on your floor, you’ll make living together for the year feel much more pleasant.
14. Make Yourself Available
Even if “no thanks” is your comfort response, learn to say yes and make yourself available when classmates and acquaintances invite you to places. Unless you’re picking up bad vibes from someone, it may be worth putting yourself out there.
You could make a note to say yes to an invite for every three nos. Eventually, you may find yourself saying yes way more often.
15. Take Full Advantage of the First Few Weeks
The first few weeks of college are the most event-packed of the entire fall semester. Things play out similarly in spring, but the fall semester seems to be the busiest. The Fall semester is where you’ll find all of the freshman welcome events, making the time between August and the end of September optimal for meeting new people.
Meeting new people is hard, especially when you’ve spent your entire life in one place, hanging around the same people since childhood. At some point, it may even feel like you forgot how to meet new friends.
However, college is a time of new beginnings, and there are a plethora of ways to meet a group of students you click with.
By taking into account each of the approaches listed here, I guarantee you’ll find someone who likes the same things you do. And, who knows, maybe you’ll be at each other’s wedding parties in ten years!