If you don’t already have friends in college, it can be hard to figure out when, where, and how to meet new people. When the subject comes up, most students feel a little scared. And most parents don’t know what to do when their kids text or call and say, “I’m lonely.” In the past, friends have appeared out of nowhere. It could have been a teammate, a classmate, a lab partner, a neighbor, someone from a club or organization, a coworker, a friend of a friend, or a random kid you went to school with your whole life. Quite a few of these friendships have been going on for five, ten, or fifteen years.
College is different. It’s a lot of new people in a new place having new things happen to them. If you don’t know how people become friends, there is a formula. In a class called “Making Friends in College 101,” this is what you would learn:
SHARED EXPERIENCES + TIME = NEW FRIENDS
This is what you’ve done in the past to meet new people. You will make friends this way in the future. The problem is that you haven’t lived together for 15 years. It’s more like 4 years or 16 semesters. But sometimes it’s hard to get out and do things. You have to be ready to feel bad sometimes. One student told me that during his first semester, he hung out in his dorm room and played games and watched Game of Thrones. The next semester, he tried to make friends on purpose. He then started playing intramural basketball, joined a fraternity, and started saying hello to more people. And he made friends.
How do you plan to meet new people in college? What does your child want to do? What do you want to tell other students about your life? Find the nicest and friendliest people you can to lower the risk. Find open-access groups and organizations. Find things to do that don’t require you to apply, audition, or be chosen. To help you make a plan, I asked current and former students what they thought was the best way to meet people.
Best tips for making friends in college
- Pre-college programs: Spend time on campus before everyone else gets there. Some schools offer camping trips, trips into the wilderness, summer workshops, and other activities that help people get to know each other.
- Attend all orientation programs (even the terrible ones). Talk to possible new friends about how good or bad they are.
- Living and Learning Communities: Your dorm room is a great place to meet new people you’ll see often. Find people in your building who might be in some of your classes and make it a point to walk to class, study, and eat meals with them.
- Intramurals: Most schools have a variety of sports and activities for their students. You can ask to be put on a team if you want to play a team sport but don’t have one.
- Gym/Recreation Center: If you go to the gym at the same time and place every week, you’ll see the same people and can get to know them. You can also meet people who are interested in fitness by taking classes like cycling or boot camp on campus. Get a part-time job at the front desk as a bonus. There will be a lot of people there.
- Part-time jobs: Work in a place with a lot of people, like a tutoring center. Work as a Resident Assistant, in a coffee shop, as an usher at the performing arts center, at the help desk, or as a campus tour guide. All of these are great ways to meet new people and make money in college.
- Spiritual Groups: Many campuses have spiritual groups, which are a great way to meet people who share your beliefs and values. One easy way to meet new people is to go to one of their events.
- Greek Life: Many college campuses have fraternities and sororities. They can be social, service, professional, religious, ethnic, or honor societies. Most of the time, you have to be invited to join, and there are usually costs involved.
- 9) Do your homework on campus: Study in open areas on campus. If you stick to a regular schedule, you’ll run into some of the same people.
- Study Groups: Get together with classmates to study. Set up a time and place to meet up regularly. Make it a general call to action.
- Clubs and groups: Join at least a couple of clubs and groups. Attend meetings for two or three months. Donate your time or take the lead. Find groups and clubs that anyone can join.
- Group projects and lab partners: Look for smaller classes, classes with small groups, and labs. You can meet new people if you work and study together.
- Sports Events: Go with a group or organization. As part of the campus newspaper, write about an event. Ask your RA to help you organize a group. Help out and be a part of a group that does things.
- Spend the weekends on campus. It’s hard to meet new people when you’re not around them. If you never leave your house, you won’t get to meet new people.
- Invite other people to hang out with you. If you already have a friend, make it a rule to always bring along someone new.
- Ask your friends, parents, and family to help you meet other students. The people you meet will also be looking for friends.
- Do volunteer work. Find a group on campus or in your community (religious, non-profit, etc.) and offer to help. When you do things, you will meet other people who are like you.
- Tell people what you’re doing and what you want to do on social media. Ask someone if they want to see a movie, a play, or do something else. Just leave the end up in the air and see what happens.
Most college students are looking to make new friends. They are just as eager to meet you as you are to meet them. If you are a parent, tell your child to be patient and take part. If you’re a student, get involved, show interest, do things on purpose, and put yourself in places where people can find you and get to know you.