Making friends is easier said than done. And doing so in college is even more challenging because let’s face it: college-goers aren’t exactly known for being kind to one another. However, here’s a handy bag of hacks that can help you make friends in college.
We don’t really need to tell you why you need friends in college. If we asked you, you would probably say, “I just need them. Who doesn’t?”. And yes, the need for social connection is essential throughout life, but more so in these formative years.
Moreover, you want good friends – the friends that accept you for who you are, inspire you to try the right things, experience the highs and lows of life with you (and support you through the lows), and so on. Having good friends makes college fun and memorable, rather than it being just a series of semesters and exams.
And on the flip side, not having friends can bring you down and make you feel alienated. It might expose you to bullying. And then there’s the logistics. Whom will you get notes from when you’re sick? Who will help you out with the subjects you struggle with?
This brings us to the topic at hand: How to make friends in a completely new set-up that is very different from the safety of your familiar school environment.
How To Make Friends In College: 7 Easy Ways
All said and done, making friends isn’t always easy, and choosing the right friends is even harder. Here are some tips for making friends in college.
1. Understand your values and interests
Before you can go out there and make friends in college, it might make sense to take stock of who you are, what you like, and what you stand for. Otherwise, you might get swept away by other people’s tastes and values.
Do you ever struggle with knowing your own identity? If you’re in college, that isn’t surprising. You’re still young. However, if you do become more self-aware, you’ll navigate college – and life – with much more ease. Consider genetic testing to know your true personality. This type of testing uncovers your true personality traits, and also your talents and aptitudes.
2. Join college clubs and organisations
If you are wondering how to make friends as a new student, this move is golden. Especially if you have trouble striking up a conversation at the sandwich vendor or the photocopier, it might help to join the debate club, or whatever club or organization you find interesting.
Resist the temptation to follow your crush or the popular kids around and make authentic choices. The best place to explore social life in college is any place where you have mutual value, enthusiasm, and confidence to bring to the table. That’s how you’ll shine, draw people to you, and make real connections.
3. Take advantage of social activities and events
This is another golden opportunity if you’re wondering how to make new friends, or how to make friends with all the strangers who walk the same corridors as you, but are nevertheless strangers.
Admittedly, college fests and social events can be a nightmare when you don’t already have friends, or if you're wondering where to go with your friends. Also, how to make friends when you have none - the answer is to do something meaningful with a bunch of random people, like participating in the college festival. Your fellow participants will automatically become your friends because you will have made memories (and either won or lost) together. This is a great start to developing a social life in college.
Cultural activities and department events organized by the college are also the best places to make friends if you have a small clique that’s looking to expand. Going with your only two college friends can certainly make it easier to enjoy an event. It also makes it easier to muster up the confidence to strike up a conversation with other college-mates. You can always leave if it’s going terribly, but for all you know, you’ll actually have a good time and make some friends.
4. Study with others
This solution to your how to make friends at college dilemma has a double benefit. You’ll get some studying done (you and your study mates can take turns understanding sections and explaining them to one another), and you might create some connections.
Overcoming challenges together has a way of creating lasting bonds because you’ll always laugh at how you struggled together. Careful that you’re not the only one bearing the actual load of doing work, however.
5. Volunteer, or participate in community service
Undertaking a project or a hobby to help a third-party together also goes a long way in creating bonds. It also takes the pressure of making conversation off your shoulders because conversation flows organically when you’re trying to find a stray dog a home, or coordinating to deliver supplies to the poor.
The next time you’re stressing over how to make friends in college easily, volunteer someplace! In fact, you might not need to look far as community service can be one of the best places to make friends.
6. Start a conversation and show genuine interest
When you have enough interests and experiences, it becomes easier to strike up a conversation. Don’t know what to say? Don’t worry; you needn’t come up with something hilarious or witty. A question works too. “Hi, how was your weekend/ vacation/ exam?” could be a good place to start.
This handy list of conversation openers is just what you need if you’re wondering how to meet people:
- What’s your favorite, or subject?
- How’s the XYZ project going for you?
- What are you doing for the college festival? Why did you choose that?
- I hear you have professor XYZ? What’s s/he like?
- How’s the commute here from where you live? (A classic conversation-opener in Indian cities.)
7. Be open and (reasonably) friendly
What sets the popular kids apart from everyone else? They’re really comfortable in their own skin, incredibly firm on what they think, and are friendly, but not over-friendly.
Find a balance. Be friendly and greet everyone with a smile. However, have a defined personality instead of people-pleasing and trying to make absolutely everyone like you. Your peers see through that and think of you as weak. Weak doesn’t work in college.
Building good friendships is crucial to making your college life fun, memorable and enriching. It’s easier said than done because there is always a clique mentality and a general I’m-cooler-than-you attitude. However, your best bet is to put your most authentic self out there, put on a brave face and reach out to people even when you don’t feel courageous. Be sure to participate in activities and clubs because when you have common interests with people, you automatically get good friends in college.