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Making Friends in College

These 7 Tips Can Make the Process Easier -- and Less Scary

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Let's be honest: making friends in college can be scary. If you're heading to college for the first time, chances are you only know a few people -- if that. And if you're at a school where you feel like you don't have any friends, it might seem like it's too late to focus on making new ones.

Fortunately, your time in college is like no other. It is forgiving and built for you to learn and explore ... especially when it comes to making friends.

8 Ways for Making Friends in College

1. Challenge yourself. Making friends in college -- and anywhere, really -- is a challenge. Know that making friends at your school is going to require a little effort from yourself. While friendships can blossom naturally, it takes some energy to go out and meet your soon-to-be-friends for the first time. So challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone. Do some of the social activities during Orientation week sound lame? Yup. But should you go to them anyway? Most definitely. After all, do you want to experience a little awkwardness (the event) for long-term benefits (meeting people), or do you want to experience a little comfort (staying in your room) in exchange for long-term disadvantages (meeting people who might turn into friends)? A little effort now can pay off quite a bit later when it comes to making friends in college. So challenge yourself to try something new, even if it sounds unusual for you or a bit scary at first.

2. Know that everyone in college is new -- even if it's their 3rd year. If you're a first-year student, nearly everyone in your class is brand new. Which means, of course, that everyone is trying to meet people and make friends. Consequently, there's no reason to feel awkward or shy about chatting up strangers, joining a group in the quad, or outreaching to as many people as possible. It helps everyone! Additionally, even if you're in your third year in college, there are still new experiences for you. That statistics class you have to take for grad. school? Everyone in it is new to you -- and vice versa. The people in your residence hall, apartment building, and club are all new, too. So reach out and talk to folks whenever you find yourself in a new situation; you never know where your new best friend is hiding.

3. Know that it's never too late to start over in college. One of the best things about college is that it's designed to help you grow. Just because you were focused on figuring out what you wanted to major in during your first two years doesn't meant that you can't, for example, join a fraternity or sorority your junior year. And if you didn't realize your love of reading and writing poetry until you took that rockin' course last semester, know that it's not too late to join the poetry club. People come in and out of social spheres and cliques all the time in college -- it's part of what makes college great. Seize those kinds of opportunities to meet new people whenever and wherever you can.

4. Keep trying. Alright, so this year you wanted to make more friends. You joined a club or two, looked at joining a sorority/fraternity, but it's now two months later and nothing's clicking. Don't give up! Just because the things you tried didn't work out doesn't mean the next thing you try won't work, either. If nothing else, you figured out what you don't like at your school or in certain groups of people. All that means is that you owe it to yourself to keep trying something else -- not give up.

5. Get out of your room. If you feel like you don't have any friends, it can be tempting to just go to class, maybe go to work, and then head home. But being alone in your room is the worst possible way to make friends. You have 0% chance of interacting with new people. Challenge yourself a little bit (see #1, above) to be around other people. Do your work in the campus coffee shop, library, or even out on the quad. Hang out in the student center. Write your paper in the computer lab instead of your room. Ask some students in your classes if they want to make a study group together. You don't have to be best friends right away, but you will end up helping each other with your homework while also getting some time to get to know each other. There are tons of ways to put yourself in situations where meeting people and making friends can happen organically -- but being in your room all the time isn't one of them.

6. Get involved in something you care about. Instead of making friends being your motivating factor, let your heart lead the way. Are you passionate about helping animals? About being involved in a religious community? About being involved in social justice? About your academic field? About medicine? Law? The arts? Find a campus organization or club -- or even one in your neighboring community -- and see how you can get involved. Chances are, along with the good work you'll be doing, you'll find some people with similar values as you. And chances are at least one or two of those connections will turn into a friendship.

7. Be patient with yourself. Think back to when you were in high school and the friendships you've maintained from there. Your friendships probably changed and morphed from your first day of high school to your last. College is no different. Friendships come and go, people grow and change, and everyone adjusts along the way. If it's taking you a little time to make friends in college, be patient with yourself. It doesn't mean you can't make friends; it just means you haven't yet. The only way you will end up definitely not making friends in college is to stop trying. So as funky as it may feel and as discouraged as you may be, be patient with yourself and keep trying. Your new friends are out there!

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