How to Make Friends in College
Going to college is a new beginning. It can be so exciting! You can have a fresh start with new places, people, and experiences. For some, the idea of making new friends can be overwhelming. If you’re wondering how to make friends in college, read on for helpful tips!
In college, you will be surrounded by hundreds of people you have never met before. Chances are that many of them are also wondering how they can connect with their new classmates.
Here are some helpful tips on how to meet people and cultivate new friendships during your time in college.
How to Make Friends in College
Start on your first day
When is the easiest time to make friends? The beginning of the semester.
Everyone is feeling “new,” and this is the perfect time to start up relationships with your peers. Introduce yourself in the first few days of class and see who you seem to click with.
If you’re living on campus, consider meeting some people in your dorm. They’ll be living near or with you for the next several months, so starting on the right foot can help you make friends in college.
Need more good news? Many college sophomores say it was in their sophomore year that more meaningful connections took root. Lay the groundwork early on, and you could be pleasantly surprised by the friendships that blossom down the road.
There’s a temptation after graduating high school to “glow up” and shed your previous persona. Some students change wardrobes, start exercising, or create other lifestyle goals.
Change is a natural and great part of entering a new stage of life. However, beware the urge to hide parts of yourself to fit in. You’re wonderful as you are! Whether you are a pun teller, embroidery master, or anime lover, you can’t find people who appreciate your interests without sharing them.
The reciprocity principle is one of the foundational laws of psychology, which proposes that people are more inclined to give back after receiving. This is true for material things, but also for non-physical commodities like trust and transparency.
Being authentic will open the door for others to reciprocate. This authenticity can serve as the foundation for friendships that will last throughout your college experience.
The best way to meet new people is to be around new people. Attend campus events, join a student organization, spend time in the library or coffee shop, or start an online study group. Putting yourself in new situations or attending events that interest you are great ways to find fellow students who like the same things that you do.
If you’re a person who prefers to not be in the limelight, consider joining administrative boards like the Regent University Student Activities Board. You’ll get to be on the inside of some of the biggest student events each year. Besides being fun and a great résumé booster, it is also a great way to build lasting bonds. You’ll spend time brainstorming ideas with the team, planning, and hosting events. If that still doesn’t appeal to you, check out joining organizations like the Intramural Sports Board or the College Student Leadership Board. Both offer great opportunities to get involved with others who are passionate about building community.
Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”1
Potential friends will be much more likely to talk with you if you are kind and interested in getting to know them. Smile. Start up a conversation (or engage in one if you aren’t much of a conversation starter). Say hello to your classmates. Comment on your classmates’ discussion board posts in Canvas to introduce yourself.
It may seem basic but being friendly is the best way to make friends!
Even the most outgoing students may hesitate when it comes to introducing themselves or inviting a classmate to coffee or a study group. Taking the first step creates opportunities to build relationships.
Here are a few ideas that can work even for those that struggle with conversation:
- Compliment someone’s outfit.
Praising someone’s sense of style is a great way to start a conversation. You can ask where they got their jeans.
- Discuss shared interests.
Perhaps you noticed someone say something interesting in class. Try bringing it up later for further discussion. If there is someone wearing an article clothing that references a show or movie you enjoy, ask them about it.
- Ask for help.
Asking for help can be a good way to start a conversation with someone. You can ask to revisit something taught in class that was a bit confusing. The help you seek doesn’t always need to be academic. You can ask for advice, directions, or even help finding something you lost.
While you can’t force friendship, you can certainly work to seek it out and cultivate it. If it doesn’t come easily at first, don’t give up! Continue learning about how to make friends in college and try to keep in mind.
Soon, you’ll be having your own college adventures to look back on and relationships that will last long after graduation.
1. Carnegie, D. (2010). How to win friends and influence people. Simon & Schuster.