Making new friends in college can be a challenging feat. Many students are living on their own for the first time in a new, unfamiliar place and struggle to connect with the people in their classes or dorms. Although the first few weeks at college are full of socials and welcome events, some students don’t find the friends they are looking for.
Maybe you are struggling to make friends in college, or you feel like everyone around you has established a new social life while you’re left behind. You are not alone in feeling this way. Research shows that feelings of loneliness are prevalent among college students. In a 2018 study at a university, 32.4% of participants reported moderate feelings of loneliness, and 3.2% reported severe loneliness.
Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to expand your friend group, here are five ways to meet new people in college.
1. Join an extracurricular activity.
While interacting with other students in the classroom is a great start to searching for new friends, you may find that you don’t have the time to get to know people during class time, or all of your conversations are centered around coursework. If you’re facing this issue, you may consider joining an extracurricular activity.
There are plenty of extracurricular activities to participate in on campus, such as intramural sports teams, clubs, academic groups, Bible studies, workout groups, poetry slams and more. Getting a part-time job on campus is also a great way to meet new people while making money, too.
2. Spend time around others.
According to Healthline, repeated and unplanned interactions are one of the conditions necessary to making new friends. One way to cultivate these interactions is to spend time in public places and visit the same spots regularly. Instead of doing all of your homework in your dorm, try working for an hour at a coffee shop or in the campus restaurant. Strike up conversations with the people you see, greet people you recognize from class or offer them a seat beside you. As you visit these places often, you’ll start to see the same faces and learn their names.
3. Connect over social media.
Social media can be a helpful tool to familiarize yourself with people on campus and make connections that bloom into friendships. On social media sites, you can form or join groups with people on campus who have similar interests, trade phone numbers with people you know from class and connect with them outside of school.
However, it is important to use social media as a tool for forming friendships and not a crutch. Oftentimes, when we follow someone we don’t know well or just met on social media, we feel like we know them better than we really do and only interact with the person through impersonal photos and posts. Wield social media wisely by using it mindfully and sparingly, and making sure to interact in person when you see them on campus.
4. Be intentional.
When struggling to make friends or dealing with feelings of loneliness, it is easy to become isolated. While that may be a natural response, it is the last thing you need to make new friends. Instead, use that feeling of loneliness to push you to be kind. You don’t have to force yourself to be something you’re not — just be open and helpful to those around you, greet the people you come across and treat them with kindness. Talk to people you see sitting alone at the cafeteria, invite classmates to work on homework together or give genuine compliments to people when they come to mind. People will gravitate towards you when you are kind.
5. Look off-campus.
Seeking out social relationships off-campus is another way to make friends in college. Churches host small groups, Bible studies and young adult gatherings. Libraries and other public services offer clubs and groups. You may also try connecting with people at community events, local festivals and the shops you frequently visit.
While there is no formula for making friends, using your time intentionally, getting involved in your community and being open to those around you can set you on a path to forming new relationships. Friends will make college a more enjoyable experience, and as you seek them, you may find a friendship that lasts for life.
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