How to Make Friends in College
Learning how to make friends can seem really scary and completely overwhelming, especially if you’re learning to do so while living in a new city or country. I moved from a tiny village in eastern Oregon, US, to the big city of Portland for college. So not only was it a brand new city but a new school, new classes, and new teachers. It's a daunting task for anyone.
Nonetheless, college actually provides one of the best opportunities to make new friends! You’re in a small environment with others your age, you have the opportunity to join groups, or you can even strike up a convo with your desk mate. When you’re lucky enough to find the right people, college friends can end up lasting a lifetime. To help you learn how to make friends in college, we’ve put together these five tips.
5 Tips for Making Friends in College
#1: Try making friends online - then meet in person
If you’re more of an introvert, going up to someone new and laying it all out directly by saying: “Hey, let’s be friends” may sound insane. To ease into it, opt to find new friends online and taking the relationship from app to IRL.
Find groups on Facebook, or other, similar social media platforms for your school, or city. It’s a good way to connect with others in your area who share an experience. Try an app, like Panion, that allows you to meet new, like-minded friends nearby. Panion is keyword-searchable, allowing you to search through users to find those who share your passions.
The best way to make friends is to find people who share common interests because this always gives you something to talk about, or at minimum, a good basis to simply start talking.
#2: Make friends at college during class
I met my first college friends in class. You’re together on a regular basis anyway, so use the opportunity to speak to those you sit near and get to know them.
For example, you could:
- Offer to study and work on homework together
- Get to know people you work with on group projects
- Ask your neighbor if they want to meet outside of class for a coffee
- This method works for both introverts and extroverts. While extroverts can join in a big group conversation and chime in easily, introverts should focus on speaking to one person. This can be much less intimidating than larger groups. I often found that this resulted in friends without me even making the effort because class settings often encouraged me to speak to those around me.
#3: Give making friends at work a try
Getting a part-time job during college can be another way to meet people in general. Working with others means you also spend a good deal of time with them, which provides another opportunity for getting to know people in order to see if you could potentially be friends.
Work basically forces you to speak to people, so even for those who are a bit more reserved, work provides an environment where meeting others is built into the system.
I worked in retail at Forever 21 during college, but some other student jobs include:
- Cafes or restaurants
- Office internships
- University library
- Any college campus job
#4: Join clubs
One of my favorite parts of college was trying out different clubs. It took me a good five minutes to realize the debate club was an absolute no-go. But that’s the point: give a few clubs a try and it helps you to see where you feel like you belong.
‘When I was studying, I joined a volunteer group based on my studies and those ended up being the people that I spent the majority of the time without throughout all of college. We were there for each other through a lot, also privacy issues, and most of us are still in touch today.
#5: Go to social events
Many colleges are host social events of all sorts, including holiday parties, exhibition events, training sessions on certain topics. These are all the perfect place to meet new people as well. In these atmospheres, a good percentage of people will come with the same intention: to make friends. So you’ll find that you won’t be sitting solo for long. To find this information depends on your college, but you can start by asking around your department. They will surely have an idea.
Making friends is an art but college is a good place to start
The ability to make friends is a skill that I wasn’t inherently born with. It took years of practice to be able to confidently and easily make friends, but taking this step already in college gave me an advantage for later on. It takes a lot of guts to go to a local event alone, join a group of random strangers, and start talking, but just focus on being yourself, and the rest will follow.