How to Make Friends in College: The Definitive Guide

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Starting college is one of the most exciting times in your life, but you might feel a little nervous too. After all, it’s a completely new chapter, in a new place, with new people. One of the best ways to speed up the adjustment process and get comfortable is to make friends.

But if you’ve had the same friends since elementary school, or if your high school friends feel like family, you might wonder: How do I make friends in college?

The good news is that making friends in college is much, much easier than you might expect. People are friendly and fun, and you’re already united by school spirit for your shared college. Your fellow classmates are just as eager to socialize as you are.

But if you’re not convinced just yet, or if you’d prefer a detailed guide on how to make friends in college, then you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll outline some of the easiest ways to build new friendships on your college campus.

Connect Through Social Media

Before you even get to campus, you can lay the groundwork for new friendships through social media. Most colleges have social media groups or online message boards for newly admitted students. Students congratulate one another on acceptance, ask questions, and start making connections with their future classmates.

Through groups like these, you can connect with students who share your major or dorm building, or who are interested in joining some of the same organizations. If you find people you click with, reach out when you arrive in the fall to grab lunch or check out your new campus together.

Are you planning to live in the dorms? If so, you probably have a roommate. Most colleges provide contact information when you receive your room and roommate assignment. It’s definitely a good idea to talk to your roommate beforehand.

At the very least, you can make sure you don’t overcrowd your space with two mini fridges or two TVs. At best, you can establish a friendship before living together in the fall! Getting along with your roommate is super important, for obvious reasons. Plus, you can introduce each other to the new friends you make to expand your social circle.

Participate in Dorm Events

Once you’re in the dorms, make sure to participate in dorm events, even the ones that sound cheesy or boring. Dorm events are especially plentiful (and popular) during the first few weeks of school. Whether it’s midnight breakfast, movie night, or a spaghetti dinner, these events give you the perfect opportunity to meet people in your building.

Of course, you can also meet your dorm mates at floor meetings or in common areas. Many students prop their doors open during move-in and mingle between rooms to introduce themselves. Although these interactions might seem strange at first, remember everyone is the same boat. They’re all in a new, unfamiliar situation and eager to make friends.

The dorm friends you make during the first few weeks may or may not be your college friends for life. Either way, they’ll help you ease into the college social scene. As you make friends with others in your dorm, you’ll feel more comfortable and confident socializing in the wider world of campus.

Venture Outside

Almost anywhere you go on campus, there’s stuff to do and people to meet. “Venture outside” might not sound like a great strategy for making friends, but in college it really is that easy.

Go to the library or the gym, eat in the dining hall or caffeinate in a campus coffee shop, and relax on the quad. Go to class and talk to the people sitting next to you. Attend school events, like featured speakers and comedy shows. Follow the free food—you’re sure to find people there.

You may find that people strike up a conversation with you, but if not, don’t be afraid to make small talk. Sometimes, someone will zoom past on a scooter while wearing a Snuggie, and that’s a great conversation opener. Other times, even if it feels cliché, go-to topics like major and hometown are solid conversation starters.

Ask older students questions you have about campus life, professors, activities to join, or where to find one of your classes. If you’re approaching other freshmen, you can ask how their first few weeks are going and share your experiences too.

Will you eventually get tired of asking (and answering), “What’s your major?” Definitely. But will it sometimes lead to longer conversations and even longer friendships? Yes! Again, pretty much everyone in college wants to make friends. People are there to learn, but also to have fun and socialize. Simply get the conversation started, and you’ll find that people are willing to engage.

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Get Involved

When you get to college, you’ll probably be shocked by the sheer number of extracurricular activities available. You’ll find a club or student organization for just about any niche hobby, charity, social justice cause, religion, culture, political party, major, and beyond.

If you’re into sports, you can also join recreational sports leagues on campus. In addition to classics like soccer and flag football, many schools also have Ultimate Frisbee, Quidditch, and Humans vs. Zombies. (The latter is basically a team version of tag involving headbands and either Nerf darts or socks.) When you join a club or team, you spend time with people on a regular basis, making it easier to form friendships.

You may also want to consider participating in “Greek life” by joining a sorority or a fraternity. In these organizations, you form close bonds and call your fellow members “brothers” or “sisters.” You’ll attend and host parties and events and do charity work together, and you may even live together later in your college career. Sororities and fraternities also make you part of a strong network of current and future members, which can be helpful as you pursue internship and career opportunities in the future. Greek life isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth exploring as an avenue for making friends in college.

Other ways to get involved include volunteering, joining study groups, or getting a job on campus. If you need some extra cash, a job at the campus bookstore or the student union is a sure way to meet lots of people.

Pursue Your Passions

As you start getting more involved in campus life, make sure to pursue your passions. Whatever you’re interested in, there’s probably a club or activity (or several) devoted to it. Following your passions will lead you to people with common interests. And bonding over shared values, goals, and hobbies is one of the fastest ways to make friends.

At the same time, get out there and try new things too. One of the most exciting things about college is the wide variety of activities to enjoy and diverse people to meet. So, pursue your passions, but don’t pigeonhole yourself. You might discover brand new interests and hobbies, or even a career path you’ve never considered before.

Follow the Sports Team

If your school has successful sports teams, attending games is a sure way to make plenty of friends. You’ll wear school colors, cheer, sing, chant, and occasionally boo with your fellow students. Every school has their own inventive sports traditions to participate in. It’s a fun way to get into the school spirit and experience a true sense of camaraderie, which makes it very easy to start a conversation with the people sitting around you. If it goes well, you can suggest attending future games together too.

Sports are also the center of other social events, like tailgating and parties. If your team has a big win, you can expect downtown (or wherever students at your college like to gather) to be especially lively. And when your team plays an away game, restaurants, bars, dorms, and individual students love to host watch parties.

Finally, following the sports team gives you another topic to discuss, especially after a big game. Whether the whole school is lamenting a fumble or celebrating a game winning three-pointer, you’ll be able to join in on the conversation.

Offer and Accept Invitations

So far, most of our tips have focused on how to start a conversation. But how do you go from making conversation to making a real friend? You invite people to go places or do things with you!

Yes, extending invitations to people can feel a bit scary. But usually, you can tell if you and another person are clicking, or sense whether they’d be open to hanging out. And if you read it wrong, the worst thing that can happen is they say no. That’s okay; there are (probably) thousands of other potential friends at your college anyway. In most cases, people will be thrilled you invited them somewhere.

Quality time is essential to transition from a good conversation to a good friendship. Ask people if they’d like to join you for:

  • Coffee
  • Food (no one likes to go to the dining hall alone)
  • Ice cream
  • A study session
  • A scavenger hunt for your classes (during move-in week)
  • Watching a movie or TV show you both like
  • Working out in the gym or going for a run
  • A sporting event
  • A hobby you have in common (skateboarding, hiking, painting, etc.)
  • A concert
  • Going out or attending a party/social event
  • Manicures/pedicures
  • A meeting for one of your extracurricular activities (if you think they’d enjoy it)
  • Playing ping-pong, foosball, cornhole, or other games available on your campus
  • A post-exam debriefing and/or venting session
  • Anything free that’s happening on campus
  • Relaxing on the quad or by the pool
  • A beach outing (or other natural attractions near your campus)
  • A museum featuring something you’re both interested in
  • Grocery shopping
  • A workshop or networking event on your campus
  • Carpooling anywhere (because campus parking is terrible)

Of course, the type of invitation you offer will depend on how long you’ve known the person and what interests you have in common. But if you’re talking about a new restaurant you’d like to try, why not ask if they’ll come with you? Or if they’re complaining about how hard it is to get off campus and grocery shop without a car, ask if they’d like to join you on your next grocery run.

Similarly, be open to accepting invitations from other people too (unless they make you uncomfortable). Even if the activity they suggest isn’t up your alley, it doesn’t hurt to give it a try. The first few weeks of college are a great time to sample various organizations and activities. If you don’t enjoy it, simply don’t go back. And no matter what you do, it’s usually fun with good company!

Final Thoughts: How to Make Friends in College

Believe it or not, a college campus might be one of the easiest places to make friends. If you’re stressed about how you’ll meet people, relax. You’ll meet lots of new people just about every day, and most of them are interested in making new friends too.

Even if you struggled with friendships in high school, know that college is different. The student population is very diverse, with just about every personality and interest represented. Plus, people are generally more accepting and open-minded.

So, here’s your plan for how to make friends in college:

  • Connect through social media beforehand.
  • Take advantage of dorm events and opportunities to mingle.
  • Go outside and start conversations with the people you encounter.
  • Get involved in organizations, activities, and events.
  • Follow your passions.
  • Bond over sports and school spirit.
  • Offer and accept invitations.

Your college friends will be some of your friends for life, so try to shake off the nerves and get excited! With these tips, you’ll start making friendships and memories in no time.

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