Making friends in college is tough, no matter the size of the campus you’re on, but everyone knows that having friends in school is a must. You can’t just ride through college feeling alienated and alone; there needs to be a balance between your school life and social life.
So, how do you make friends? There’s no perfect formula, and often you’ll hear people talk about “just meeting people,” but that’s easier said than done. Luckily, plenty of other students have been where you are now, and they’re giving great concrete advice for how to actually make friends.
1. They Were Honest About Their Values and Interests
“Coming out and being true to myself and to my friends my freshman year of college was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. After coming out I was able to be the most authentic version of myself, and since then have only sought to attract equally authentic people. Our friendships can only be as transparent as we are with ourselves and each other.” – Marine, Marymount Manhattan College ‘18
There is a lot we don’t know about ourselves when we enter into the scary abyss that is college and the real world, but figuring those things out and being authentic and unapologetic about who you really are will eventually help you make close friendships.
What do you really like to do? What makes your face light up every time you talk about it? Pursue these interests and be open with people about what you want to pursue. You’ll be surprised at how many similar people come out of the woodwork.
2. They Joined Organizations That They Care About
“I found organizations that I’m passionate about, and from there I was able to make genuine connections. Whether it be a Greek organization, a philanthropy organization, or an honors organization, there’s a place for everyone in their school.” – Rita, Florida International University ‘18
Every school has a wide variety of organizations that are there for your benefit. Your school doesn’t know you’re interested, so you need to be proactive and find different organizations that mean something to you.
There are so many ways to find organizations within schools; at some schools, there is a specific website that manages the organizations tied to the university. Facebook groups and club fairs are two other great ways to find out about different events and organizations.
For instance, if you are interested in writing, google your school newspaper and email the editor-in-chief. You’ll be sure to find out more through the members.
3. They Accepted Discomfort and Put Themselves Out There
“Finding discomfort in my environment brought with it a great deal of joy, whether it was slipping into meetings where I didn’t know anyone or joining a church that I heard from a friend of a friend. It was awkward, but it was the most rewarding thing I did.” – Amanda, University of Central Florida ‘17
There’s never going to be a right time to do anything, especially when it comes to going to events that are foreign to you. Take comfort in knowing that there are people out there that want to know you and want you to walk through those doors.
For example, if you live in a dorm, go to the dorm study hall on your floor and start conversation. If you live off campus, go to the library or student union and join in on whatever looks exciting. Stretch your comfort zone.
4. They Kept Their Doors Open (Literally!)
“Since it is a new beginning for everyone, everyone will be shy, awkward, passive, and so on. I kept my door open when I was in the room, and over time people would come in and chat. Luckily, I had hall mates that would do the same for me.” – Devante’, Michigan State University ‘18
If you want others to be warm and open to you, be warm and open to them. Open your dorm room door and let others come to you if you don’t want to be the one to approach others.
But if you want to be the one to walk into the open doors of others, that’s just as friendly and shows that you truly care. And don’t think keeping your door wide-open is dorky; some people may feel this way, but they would quickly change their opinion if they started good conversation with someone who had their door open.
5. They Took Advantage of Experiences to Travel Off-Campus
“When you travel with people, you get to know each other very quickly; it was useful in making strong friendships with people I otherwise wouldn’t have met. It was also a break from school, where people don’t really have time to just hang out, because we were taking ‘classes,’ but in reality most of the time we were just exploring new cities together.” – Flavia, Harvard University ‘18
Travel and study through your school and you’ll be surprised how many like-minded individuals you’ll find on these trips. Whether it’s students from other countries or students you made the trek to other countries with, you’re bound to find friends through these circumstances.
If the finances of studying abroad are too much for you to handle (and let’s be real: it’s a little too much for most people), check your school’s organizations to see if they provide volunteering opportunities that require travel. Whether those volunteering events are in other countries or right around the corner from your school, you’ll meet like-minded individuals who are passionate about what you’re passionate about.
Go out there, make connections, and be true to yourself and others. Friendships are built upon these simple notions. Go get uncomfortable and leave your door open while you’re at it.