Tips on How You can Find New Friends in College
Finding friends on campus can be difficult. For most incoming freshmen and transfer students, it’s been awhile since you’ve had to form new friendships. For continuing students, maybe you feel like it’s time to expand your friend pool. Either way, the prospect of putting yourself out there can be terrifying. Don’t fear because you are not alone. Most of your fellow students probably feel the same way you do. Keep the following points in mind and you will be making new friends in no time!
General Tips for All Students
Get Involved in Extracurricular Activities
Sign up for activities that meet on a regular basis. Relationships take time to develop. By regularly meeting with people who care about the things you do you can solidify friendships.
One of the best ways to meet people is to join a club or an intramural sport. It’s a great way to find like-minded individuals and to keep yourself actively engaged during the school year. Take this opportunity to discover a new interest or try out a new sport you haven’t played before. You’ll meet others who are also discovering new sides of themselves or who want to share their interests with you. Many schools have start-of-the-year academic events or fairs, where clubs publicize themselves. Go to as many as these events as possible in order to see what your campus community has to offer. Be open; you may be surprised by what you get involved in.
If clubs or sports don’t interest you, weekly exercise classes, dance classes, improv classes, or even a variety of volunteer opportunities are also options. If they’re not mentioned at the academic events or fairs, they will be advertised on the campus website, social media pages, or newsletter.
Attend Campus Events
There are several other activities happening on and around campus where you can meet new people, such as lectures, concerts, DIY activities, etc. These events don’t have regular meet-ups, but you will have common interests with the people you meet there (so you’ll automatically have something to talk about!). Find out about campus events on your campus website, social media page, or newsletter. Your campus may also have a student activities or campus service office that would be happy to inform you of all the opportunities available. Go out and do some digging so you can learn about everything your campus has to offer!
Spend Time on Campus
It can be tempting to go straight back to the comforts of home after your last class is over for the day. However, if you want to get to know more students in your college, you need to hang out on campus. This applies to commuters AND those who live on or near campus! Spending time on campus will make it easier for people to spend time with you; sometimes the hardest parts about meeting up with someone are making the time and finding a place to meet. If you stay on campus for a little while, both issues tend to disappear, since you’re both already on campus.
Meet People in Class, but be Sure to Meet Them Outside of Class too
Having a class together guarantees a common topic of interest, but friendships in class are not likely to live beyond the classroom unless you do something to solidify the relationship. Ask classmates to join you for lunch in the dining hall or form a study group. Getting to know them outside the context of the classroom will give the friendship depth and, hopefully, it will continue after the semester has ended.
For Incoming Students or Transfer Students
Look for Pre-orientation Programs
The simplest way to ease into college is to meet people like you before school even starts. Many schools have pre-orientation programs for first generation students, minority students, specific majors, etc. Go to your school website to search for them and sign up for one if it interests you. Programs like these bring people who have similar backgrounds together. You’ll get to know people who share your fears and will probably face similar challenges as school progresses.
Go to Orientation
Most schools lead orientation sessions for incoming students. Orientation is the perfect place to get to know new people. Everyone is in the same boat and eager to make new friends. Go to as many orientation events as you can. Don’t be afraid to feel awkward and strike up a conversation with someone new. Chances are, they are just as nervous and eager to make friends as well.
For Those Who Go to School In or Near Their Hometown
Branch Out from your High School Friends
If you go to a college near home, chances are, you still keep in contact with friends from high school, or some of them also attend your college/university. With a new environment and possibly challenging transition, it’s tempting to just fall back on what is familiar and stick with your high school cohort. Not that there's anything wrong with hanging out with old friends. Continuing these relationships through college will definitely strengthen your friendship and take it to a new level - and that’s a good thing - but it’s equally important to expand your social network in college for your personal and professional growth.
For Those Who Dorm
Get to Know People in your Hall
Get to know people in your hall. You’ll spend a whole year with them, so you might as well get friendly! Reach out and talk to people during hall meetings. Attend the hall events that your RA or hall counselor put together. Leave your room door open during the day so that people know you are open to a chat or, at the very least, open to a hello. Your hall may also use a group text platform like GroupMe or something similar, so make your presence known on the chat, especially if it makes you nervous to stop by in person.
Making new friends can be tough at any age. As long as you remember to put yourself out there and take the initiative, your situation won’t seem as daunting. However, don’t force it. You don't have to remain friends with everyone you meet or get to know. After all, everyone is still figuring out where they belong and who they are in the throughout college. It’s an ongoing process. Rather than becoming friends with the whole campus, find a few good friends you can connect with. It may take some time but that’s okay. Quality friends are worth the wait.
About the author…
Anitta Machanickal is the Managing Editor of propellercollective.org and a recent graduate of Davidson College, where she earned a BA in English. She’s a first gen and limited-income graduate who focused most of her college years helping young, limited-income students and children of immigrants, and continues this through Propeller Collective.