Making Friends in College is Hard, But Here's What You Can Do

Leaving home and going to college is exciting. It’s an opportunity to experience more independence than you had while living at home, learn new things, and meet new people. Those are all good things.

One thing that can be stressful for some people is making friends in college. If you’re heading to a school where you don’t know anybody, it can feel a little bit like starting from scratch. It might be scary, but if you approach it with the right attitude, it’s also a wonderful opportunity to expand your horizons and meet people who may be friends for the rest of your life. Here are some things that may help.

Reach Out to Your Roommates Ahead of Time

These days, most colleges and universities notify students of who their roommates will be before they arrive at school for the first time. They usually provide contact information too. Sending an email or Skyping with your roommate can relieve some of the tension associated with starting college. You may find common ground, and at the very least, you’ll have a foundation for your relationships when you arrive.

Take Advantage of College Mixers and Events

It’s common for first-year college students to report to campus early. They have the opportunity to settle into their rooms, learn their way around campus, and get acclimated before the rest of the students arrive.

During that first week, you may notice there are a lot of mixers and events. These can range from a dorm pizza party to college-wide events that are open to everybody. Attending these events gives you the opportunity to meet new people in a setting where everybody is on equal footing. Even if you have a hard time talking to strangers, it’s a good idea to introduce yourself to a few people.

Arrive Early for Classes

Social events aren’t the only way to make friends at college. The classroom also provides opportunities to get to know people and find out whether you could be friends. If you arrive just a few minutes early for your classes and sit next to someone new each time, you can meet new people regularly and without a lot of stress.

The good thing about meeting people in your classes is that you already know you have something in common. The topic of your last lecture or a question about an assignment can serve as the perfect icebreaker. Not every interaction will lead to a lasting friendship, but some will. You won’t know unless you try.

Join Student Clubs and Associations

Most colleges have a wide array of student clubs and associations. Some host events where students can speak to representatives of clubs and learn about what they offer. Joining any club that interests you is a good way to meet people.

Keep in mind, too, that you don’t need to stick with every club you join. College is a great time to experiment and try new things. Attending a few meetings can help you get a feel for the group in question and make some friends at the same time.

The Alumni Approved College Handbook for Incoming Freshmen

Mingle at Mealtime

The college dining hall is a place where students mix and mingle – and that means that you can use your mealtimes as an opportunity to meet new people and make friends.

One simple way to do it is to pick a table at random and sit down. You could try seeking out someone who’s alone if you prefer talking one-on-one, or, you could look for a friendly group and simply join them. Most students are willing to meet and talk to new people – and if you don’t like the people you meet at one meal, you’ll have another chance at your next meal.

Find a Job

Getting a job on or off campus can also bring you into contact with new people. Many college students work. If you’re in a work-study program, you may be able to find a job opening mail at the admissions office, shelving books at the library, or waiting tables at the faculty club.

When you work with other students, you have something to talk about – your jobs. Not all of those work friendships will go beyond your working hours, but some may.


Finally, you may want to consider volunteering for a worthy cause. Some colleges have student chapters of non-profits like Habitat for Humanity. Others work with organizations in their communities. Either way, donating a little bit of time to a good cause can help you meet other students with similar interests.

If you can’t find volunteer opportunities on campus, you can look online to see what’s happening in the community at large. Not all of your friends need to go to the same school you do, and casting a wide net can help you find people you’ll love.

Making friends is an important part of going to college. Many adults stay close to their college friends for the rest of their lives. The key is keeping an open mind and being willing to take a few risks.

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