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How to Make Friends at College: Tips for Meeting People & Overcoming Shyness

Last Updated April 05, 2023

Making friends in college can be both intimidating and exciting. It's a time of new beginnings, and the potential to form meaningful relationships is abundant. However, starting anew can be overwhelming, and sometimes it's hard to know where or how to begin. This article seeks to provide a detailed guide on how to make friends in college, covering everything from where to start looking for friendships to fostering meaningful connections once you find them.

It's important to remember that although you can't control every friendship that comes into your life, you can still take steps to seek out and cultivate lasting relationships actively. After all, friendships are an essential part of a happy and fulfilled life. As C.S. Lewis said, "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'"

The Fundamentals of Finding Friends

Reflecting upon how we've formed friendships in the past can help determine how to do it in the future. For instance, children often form friendships through school and shared activities. Spending time together in a shared context enabled deeper connections to form. College, then, is a perfect place to apply this same principle. The sheer number of people around us can be overwhelming, but they also provide thousands of potential opportunities for friendship.

It's worthwhile to be intentional about who we choose to be our friends. The importance of surrounding yourself with those who energize, encourage, and support you cannot be understated. So, it's a good idea to actively put effort into making friends. As Zig Ziglar advised, "If you go looking for a friend, you're going to find they're very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you'll find them everywhere."

So are you ready to get out there and be a friend? The following section can help you get started with nine proven methods for finding friends in college.

Nine Proven Methods for Making Friends in College

  1. Introduce yourself. Whether in the library, cafeteria, or just walking around campus, don't underestimate the power of simple introductions. Chances are, some other students you encounter will want to get to know you too!
  2. Get involved in clubs. College campuses typically have extracurricular activities, ranging from student organizations and academic clubs to athletic teams and intramural sports. Joining one or multiple groups is a great way to meet new people with similar interests.
  3. Take a class. Even if you don't need the credits or aren't actively planning to pursue the field, auditing a class can be an excellent way to make friends. Not only can you learn something new, but you'll automatically have a few built-in study partners.
  4. Seek out new experiences. Make an effort to try something new occasionally. Taking part in spontaneous activities, like attending a local festival or participating in a 5K race, can be a rewarding way to meet new and interesting people.
  5. Plan meet-ups. If you already have a few friends, it can be fun to plan group hangouts. Creating a new context for socializing allows for the potential for friendships to develop naturally.
  6. Utilize social media. While it's easy to overshare on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, they can also be useful tools for connecting with friends of friends. Don't be afraid to explore options like Facebook groups and Twitter chats - they can be great places to make meaningful friendships.
  7. Volunteer. Giving back to the community is always a good idea. Plus, volunteer work is a fantastic way to meet like-minded people. Consider joining a local organization or nonprofit to get involved in your city and build connections.
  8. Attend networking events. College is a great time to build your professional network. Look around campus for upcoming events, such as career fairs and employer information sessions. Who knows, the person you meet today could be your friend tomorrow!
  9. Seek out organizations with alumni chapters. If you're an outgoing transfer student, consider looking for organizations with branches in multiple cities. This way, you can keep up with friends from different chapters even after you leave college.

How to Foster Lasting Friendships

Make Friends at CollegeFollowing the steps and tips outlined below will help strengthen the relationships already in your life and the ones you make in college.

  1. Start small. Friendship is like any other relationship - it requires nurturing and care to flourish. Therefore, it's important to start small and build the foundation of your friendships gradually. Exchange contact information or suggest a coffee or lunch date.
  2. Show genuine interest. People appreciate and respond positively when someone takes an interest in their life. Ask questions and listen attentively without leaping to conclusions. Watching and talking movies can be a great way to get to know someone.
  3. Respect boundaries. Everyone needs their own space from time to time. Respect your friends' need for alone time, and don't take it personally if they say "no" to an invitation.
  4. Be honest and open. Honesty is key in any relationship. Be open about your thoughts and feelings, and encourage your friends to do the same. Avoid gossiping and speaking negatively about others, as unkept secrets lead to broken trust.
  5. Don't compare. We all have different personalities and experiences, so comparisons only lead to envy and self-doubt. Instead, create an atmosphere of acceptance by supporting your friends without judgment or expectation.
  6. Make time. Friendships require time and commitment. So make sure to schedule regular get-togethers and prioritize meaningful conversations. Texting and sending funny memes are great, but nothing replaces face-to-face contact.
  7. Offer support. Life can be complicated, and having supportive friends is essential during trying times. Be there to offer understanding and sympathetic listening.
  8. Respect differences. Not everyone is going to get along. Remember to respect and honor each other's differences without judgment. We all come from different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives - learning to accept and appreciate one another's uniqueness is essential for maintaining strong friendships.
  9. Take time for yourself. Remember to take time for yourself every once in a while. Self-care is just as important as caring for others and nurturing your friendships. So schedule "me" time to recharge and reconnect with yourself.
  10. Stay in touch. Don't let distance stop you from staying connected. To stay in touch with friends, utilize various communication methods like emails, text messages, and online video chats.
  11. Focus on quality over quantity. It might be easy to collect multiple acquaintances, but true friends are much rarer. Don't give in to the pressure to expand your network if your heart isn't in it. Instead, focus on developing a quality circle of friends who inspire, motivate and challenge you.
  12. Practice open-mindedness. Open-mindedness isn't just about accepting different opinions. It's also about trying to see things from others' perspectives and being willing to learn from their experiences. With this quality, you can create deeper, more meaningful connections.
  13. Go with the flow. Don't force friendships. Sometimes, it may take time to develop a true connection with someone. Respect others' boundaries, and don't try to rush things. Move at the pace that best suits both of you and enjoy the ride!
  14. Have fun. Most importantly, remember to have fun! Enjoy the moments you share with your friends, and don't forget to laugh and smile together. Friendship is meant to be enjoyed, so take time to celebrate the good times!
  15. Be kind. Always be kind and generous towards your friends. Be supportive, and don't forget to give compliments when they're due. A few kind words can go a long way in strengthening any friendship.
  16. Offer assistance. Offer to help out if you can. Whether it's helping your friend study for a test or listening while they vent, showing that you care can make all the difference in the world.
  17. Trust each other. Trust is vital for any friendship to last. Don't hesitate to share your thoughts and feelings with your friends. They should feel comfortable enough to do the same.
  18. Go on adventures together. Get out and explore the world together! Adventure is the perfect recipe for creating lasting memories and fostering deep relationships.
  19. Celebrate each other's success. Celebrate each other's successes, big or small. Acknowledge and lift each other up whenever possible. Your friends will appreciate it, and your relationships with them will strengthen.

Making friends in college can seem daunting at first, but it doesn't have to be. All it takes is a little effort and intentionality to cultivate meaningful and lasting relationships. With a little patience and perseverance, you can discover an abundance of opportunities to connect with people and make friends in college.