How to Make Friends in College

portrait of Tyler Epps
Tyler Epps
Read Full Bio

Editor & Writer

Tyler Epps is an editor for BestColleges. He writes and edits content about higher education, specializing in degree planning and college rankings. He is passionate about helping students prepare for college and navigate their educational journey. He...
Published on Feb 26, 2021
Learn more about our editorial process is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to Start Your Journey?

  • Everyone is looking to meet new people and establish a group of friends in college.
  • Making friends in college requires effort, and that often means putting yourself out there.
  • While it's important to keep an open mind, be sure you stay true to who you are.
  • Getting involved on campus is a great way to meet people and gain a sense of community.

You've likely heard that college allows you to find yourself and try new things. You're free from parental supervision and able to make decisions on your own, probably for the first time in your life. But it may also be the first time you've been away from your friends.

Few moments in life are more exciting than when you leave home and start school with a clean slate, but it can be hard to make that leap alone. One of the most difficult parts of adjusting to college is finding friends. Making new friends requires conscious effort and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone.

Of course, this is easier said than done. To help you, we've put together a list of tips on how to meet new people so you can make your college environment truly feel like home.

3 Essential Tips for Making Friends in College

  • Check

    Take Initiative

    If you really want to meet people, you have to be willing to put yourself out there. For introverts especially, introducing yourself can be extremely challenging, but it's necessary if you want to meet new people. Asking questions is a great way to get the conversation going and recover after a lull.

    Remember, everyone wants to make friends in college. Inviting a classmate to grab a meal after class or study together doesn't make you look strange or desperate. In fact, most people will appreciate your effort.

  • Check

    Be Yourself

    You're going to meet a lot of different people in college, and you won't click with everyone. Rather than altering yourself for the purpose of fitting in with a particular group, stay true to who you are.

    The last thing you want to do is surround yourself with people you can't be your authentic self around. In a new environment with hundreds or even thousands of people your age, you're sure to find plenty of like-minded individuals who share your interests and values.

  • Check

    Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

    One of the best parts about college is meeting people from different backgrounds and gaining new perspectives along the way. But in order to do this, you must be willing to step outside your comfort zone.

    This does not mean you have to say yes to every invitation you get, but you should be open to the opportunities that come your way. While it may seem daunting at first, leaving your comfort zone allows you to grow as an individual and try new things you may never have considered back home.

7 Ways to Meet New People in College

Join a Club or Team Sport

Many campuses have a large number of student organizations, including academic, political, religious, and cultural clubs. You can check your college's official website to see what clubs your campus offers. If one sounds interesting to you, join it and prepare to meet plenty of people with similar interests.

If clubs aren't your cup of tea, consider joining a team sport. Colleges have teams for just about every sport. Some even have Quidditch or medieval sword combat. You can join an intramural or competitive club team, depending on your skill level. Whichever league you choose, you'll get to meet lots of people while also trying out a new sport or playing a sport you love.

Go Greek

Depending on how prevalent Greek life is on your campus, you might consider going Greek. By joining a fraternity or sorority, you're pretty much guaranteed to meet new people. Between parties and campus events, you'll have plenty of opportunities to form lasting friendships.

Greek life isn't for everyone, though, as the constant socializing may be too overwhelming for some people — not to mention the crowded housing arrangements that often come with larger organizations.

Still, joining a Greek organization offers many benefits. Before you decide to rush, learn about the organizations available at your college.

Attend Campus Events and Volunteer

Many colleges maintain a full calendar of student activities and events planned throughout the academic year, including sporting events, concerts, films, theater productions, workshops, and even famous speakers. Not only do these events offer a great way to meet people with similar interests, but they're also a fun way to connect with your wider college community.

In addition to campus events, many colleges offer a variety of volunteering opportunities, like community cleanups and planting trees around campus. If you find a cause you're passionate about, get involved and make a difference with like-minded people.

You can find campus events and volunteering opportunities on your college's official website. You should also keep an eye out for flyers posted around campus.

Get a Job on or Around Campus

On-campus jobs are ideal for students because managers expect to work around class schedules and campus holidays. They can also be an excellent way to meet new people. Many campuses maintain positions exclusively reserved for students in coffee shops, dining halls, libraries, computer centers, recreational centers, gyms, and concert venues.

Since on-campus positions may be limited, many college students find work off campus at local shops, grocery stores, cafes, and restaurants. While there are many benefits to working on campus, one major downside is that on-campus jobs tend to pay less than off-campus jobs. This often makes off-campus jobs a win-win for meeting new people and pocketing some much-needed cash.

Form a Study Group

If the prospect of asking a classmate to hang out or grab a meal is absolutely terrifying to you, consider asking them to study with you instead. Forming or taking part in a study group is one of the easiest ways to connect with peers outside the classroom, and can also lead to more relaxed hangout sessions if group members click.

Of course, some students prefer to study alone, but others prefer the group environment. Reviewing difficult course concepts and joking about your professor's quirks is a solid way to bond, not to mention boost your grades.

Get to Know Your Floormates

If you're not sharing an apartment or house, then you probably live in a campus dormitory with complete strangers. While dorm life introduces many unpleasant aspects, it's also a great way to meet students you'll be around for much of the year.

For first-year students especially, dorms are notorious for being lively, social environments. RAs may order pizza for the floor, schedule movie and trivia nights, and host holiday parties. Don't be afraid to introduce yourself and participate in social events. Remember, other first-year students are in the same boat as you and want to make friends.

Develop a Rapport With Your Classmates

When you begin classes, you'll have plenty of opportunities to meet people. As a first-year student, you'll probably attend seminar classes specifically designed to help you acclimate to the college environment. Strike up a conversation with the people sitting next to you — simply being in the same course should give you something to chat about.

For upper-level students, getting to know people in your major can help you form lasting friendships since you'll likely take many of the same courses throughout college. Plus, students in your classes probably have similar interests and career aspirations you can talk about.

The Key to Making Friends in College

This article provides plenty of actionable ways for making friends in college, but all of this advice is useless if you don't actually apply it. If you decide to join a club or attend a campus event, make a concerted effort to talk and get to know those around you. Don't simply hang out in the background and wait for others to approach you.

Challenge yourself to strike up a conversation with at least one person each day. The reality is that everyone is eager to make new friends in college. It might be intimidating at first, but once you open up a little, you'll find that many people are willing to meet you.

Feature Image: FatCamera / E+ / Getty Images is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare Your School Options

View the most relevant schools for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to finding your college home.