When you live on-campus, making friends can be easy. After all, you’re sharing a room with at least one other person and a hall with a hundred more. However, if you live off-campus, it can make things a lot more difficult.
Here are 10 tips on how to make college friends when you live off-campus:
- Join a club.
- Go to study groups.
- Attend events.
- Use Facebook groups.
- Get an on-campus job.
- Find a peer mentor.
- Eat in the dining halls.
- Hang out in the dorms.
- Spend time in common areas.
- Carpool with other off-campus students.
With all of these tips, remember that the most important thing is to be friendly. If you have your earbuds in and are acting unapproachable, chances are nobody is going to approach you. If you act like you want to meet people, you’ll attract other students.
1. Join a Club
One of the best ways to make friends at college, whether you’re living on-campus or off, is to join a club. By joining a club, you can meet like-minded peers in an environment outside of classes or the typical party scene.
For me, one of the hardest parts about college was that I’m not much of a partier. I prefer to stay in and relax in the evenings instead of going out and dancing until 2 am. I was having a hard time making friends until someone suggested that I try joining a club, and it was one of the best things that I could’ve done.
By joining a club, I met classmates with common interests, in my case Spanish, and I was also able to meet older students that I wouldn’t have otherwise met because we weren’t in the same classes. Clubs are also a great thing that you can put on your resume once you graduate college, especially if you were in a leadership position or did a lot of volunteering in the field you’re aiming to work in.
2. Go To Study Groups
When you’re commuting, it can seem impossible to get to know people, even the people you take classes with. It seems like you’re always driving whereas everyone else is going home together. That’s when study groups can come in handy.
On the first day of class, start talking to the people around you and ask them if they’d like to form a study group. Some professors will even help to facilitate this.
Then you’ll have an automatic group of people you’re meeting up with every week or every other week. It may not seem like a lot at first, but by building these first few relationships, you can start making your web of connections.
Maybe at first, you just spend time together in study groups, then you can start suggesting getting coffee after. Over time these people will become your friends, and through them, you can be introduced to even more people.
3. Attend Events
What’s the one place that almost the entire college will congregate? Football games. Even if football isn’t your thing, football games can be a great place to get involved with the rest of the student body.
Tickets are usually free, or only a couple of dollars, for students, so it’s a low commitment. And if you hate it, you’re only out a couple of bucks.
The best way to enjoy a football game is to go tailgating with a group, but not everyone has a group of friends to tailgate with. Fortunately, many clubs will organize group tailgates.
I know at my college, just about every student union and the club would have tailgates and would provide free pizzas and sodas to students. This is yet another incentive to join a club. Even if you’re not friends with everyone just yet, it’s an automatic group of people to spend time with.
4. Use Facebook Groups
When you register to attend a college, they’ll usually give you information about your class’s Facebook group. Almost every college has one, and even if they don’t advertise it, you’ll probably find one with just a quick Google search.
When you’re first starting out at college, you can do a simple get-to-know-me post on your class’s group and put your social media handles and the best ways to contact you at the bottom.
Facebook groups are also a great way to find people that are in your classes before the semester begins and can be a great starting point for finding roommates. Most people that I know will post their class schedules at the beginning of the semester and see if anyone has the same classes.
That way, if you’re worried about making friends in your classes or just a little nervous, you can go into your first day of class knowing at least one person’s name.
Nowadays, social media is the main way that colleges communicate events. By the time I was done with college, my school had almost completely stopped sending announcements via email.
Nearly all of the announcements were sent out via Instagram or Facebook posts. So, if you’re looking to get involved with on-campus activities, make sure you’re following your school on social media to get the latest updates.
5. Get an On-Campus Job
Going through college, almost everyone needs a job at some point. After all, college tuition is expensive, and most of the time, loans won’t cover it all. So, if you plan on getting a job and you’d like to make friends while you’re at it, try getting an on-campus job.
Your coworkers and the people that you’re serving will be other students, making an on-campus job an ideal opportunity to meet people.
Getting an on-campus job is also a great career move, especially if you’re strategic about which jobs you’re applying for. Your college should have a directory of available on-campus jobs and the departments they’re listed under.
Depending on what you’re studying, you may be able to apply for a job supervised by one of the faculty members of your major. For example, if you’re in the theatre program, you could work as an usher in the college’s shows.
If you choose to work within a department instead of one of the more typical jobs, like food service or transportation, an on-campus job can help you build a relationship with faculty members. That way, once you move to upper-level classes, you’ll have a leg up by already knowing the professor.
If the professor knows you before entering your major, they’ll be more likely to write recommendations for you or provide extra help with assignments.
6. Find a Peer Mentor
Nowadays, many colleges have a peer mentorship program where incoming freshman or transfer students can be assigned to an older student already established in the college. This mentor receives special training to understand how to assist you, and it definitely helps that they’ve been through it too. After all, they were once a new student as well.
You can request to have a peer mentor who also lives off-campus if you want to receive specific advice about that. This mentor will help you create a study schedule so you don’t fall behind in your first months and advise you on how to make connections with other students. They can also refer you to the counseling center if you feel you need some extra support.
The best part about having a peer mentor is that, most likely, they’ll be your first real friend on campus. They’ll be there for you and can better empathize with your situation. Sometimes it can feel like your family just doesn’t get it.
After all, it’s not like they went to college during the age of social media. Things are different now. Your peer mentor can provide that much-needed support, so you feel less alone during this transitional time.
7. Eat in the Dining Halls
This may seem like a simple tip, but it really works. Eating in the dining halls can often feel super intimidating, especially when you feel like you have nobody to sit with. However, showing up to the dining hall without your friends and roommates in tow can actually be an excellent opportunity to meet new people.
Nobody likes being a person without friends, we’ve all been there, and it’s not fun. So as soon as people get to college, they tend to group up with their roommate and the people in the rooms around them. That way, even if they’re not actually friends or have much in common, they’re not alone.
So keep that in mind when you walk into the dining hall, most of the people in there aren’t even friends yet, and trust me, even if they are, they’re looking for more.
Look around and if you see a group of people that look friendly, just go up and ask if you can sit with them. It may seem like the craziest thing to do but trust me. Everyone appreciates having someone to sit with.
Also, if you see someone sitting alone, go and ask them if you can join them or if they’d like to go eat with you outside on the lawn. This is one of the times in life where it’s totally okay to ask if you can sit with someone, just like you did as a kid in the cafeteria.
8. Hang Out in the Dorms
If you’re not living in the dorms, you may think that it means the dorm experience is lost to you, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Once you make a few initial connections, try to hang out in their dorm with them. Dorms usually have great social and study areas that you can pass the time in during the day.
They also tend to be a hotspot for students looking for friends.
Dorms also have RAs, Resident Assistants. They live in the dorm and help facilitate relationships amongst students and solve any problems that might come up.
As part of this, the RAs will also plan and run activities for the students. These can include scavenger hunts, pizza parties, game nights, etc.
Even if you’re not living in the dorm, you can still participate in these activities, and they’ll be a great way to meet other students, especially if you’re a freshman.
9. Spend Time in Common Areas
On almost every college campus, you’ll have something called a student recreation center. It typically has a gym, pool, a few restaurants, and some study areas. One of the best things you can do passively to make friends is to spend time in these areas.
Even if you’re not actively reaching out to anyone, just being visible and spending time on-campus and out of your apartment will do you a lot of good.
Also, if you spend time on campus, you’re more likely to get caught up in what’s going on.
If you’re already on campus and a pickup football game starts outside the rec center, then it’ll be super easy to join in. If you had spent the same time sitting in your apartment, you never would’ve seen that it was going on and would’ve spent the same afternoon alone.
Set yourself up for success, and don’t isolate yourself if you can help it.
10. Carpool With Other Off-Campus Students
One last way to meet other students, which is especially helpful for an off-campus student, is to carpool with other students.
Having a car at college is expensive. Parking spots can cost upward of $1,000 for one year and can only be used for one car. If you can find other off-campus students near you, you can set up a carpool system.
By doing this, you can save gas and parking space by splitting the costs, and you’ll also have an automatic friend.
Maybe you won’t be best buddies, but at least you’ll start and end your day spending time with someone familiar to you, and you won’t feel as alone.
Overall, the most important thing to keep in mind when making friends as an off-campus college student is to be present on campus. It may be more difficult, especially knowing that you still have a commute ahead of you, but staying on campus and participating in organized activities is the best way to meet people.
Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to others. Remember, everyone is trying to make friends, and by reaching out, you may be helping someone that was too scared to reach out.