You’ve made it halfway through the semester, so it probably seems like friend groups have already been established. But if you’re not feeling the love, don’t worry! Making new friends in college can be tough -- much harder than in elementary or even high school. It’s totally normal to feel left out or alone when you’re at a new school. If you’re having a hard time making friends in college, we’ve got advice for you to help you establish a new friend group and build some great relationships.
Open Your Doors
One of the coolest parts of college is that, at most schools, dorms encourage an ‘open doors’ atmosphere. In other words, leave your dorm room door open and decorate. Dress up your room, get a cool focal feature, do something neat and fun with your door… whatever you can think of to draw attention to your space. The more open you are, the more likely friends will come to you! There is more than one way to draw people to your dorm room. Simply playing a fun song will encourage people to say hey! This also draws likeminded people. If someone hears a song they love, they are drawn to have to say, ‘I love this song!’
In addition to keeping that door open so your hall mates can see all of your cool decor and hear all of your awesome tunes, you can do a lot of fun things on the outside of your door that will not only draw attention but encourage people to interact. Consider hanging a whiteboard on your door with markers. With this, the possibilities are truly endless. Try encouraging people to write down their social media handles. Everyone loves to promote themselves so you will get a lot of new contacts that way. You could also try the flipside of that and add you and your roommates handles and tell people to add you. This might be easier for those who are more introverted.
Another thing you can add to your whiteboard is a quote of the week. Every week try to find something interesting or funny as your quote. This will keep people talking when they see you in the halls or elevators. You can also just write something simple like “Come Say Hi!” or “All are welcome!” and that will encourage other nervous people to socialize.
Another great way to get people into your dorm is by hosting something small that draws in people with like interests. Consider hosting something lowkey like a scary movie marathon (or any movie you want) and post the start time on your door a few days before. This is a simple way to draw in some new people without it being too much pressure.
Join the Club
If you don’t want to be isolated, get involved! Find a club that interests you and fits your schedule. There is seriously a club for everything! I might be something academic, or it might be a sport or other hobby. Maybe it is a social club that you are passionate about. Whatever it is, take a chance on it! Don’t see anything that’s at your level? Look into forming your own group! It could be tabletop gaming or a group to travel into the city and watch plays. Think of what you love and what you want your friends to want to love too and go from there. If it’s too hard to form an official club, you can always use Facebook events. Advertise around campus and invite your fellow students to join your group. Once in, start some events and see what happens. Even if only one person comes, it’s a win!
In the spirit of getting involved, it is really important to attend campus events, especially your freshman year. Sure, they can be super cheesy, but they are also designed to help you make friends! Most campuses have specific events that are exclusive to freshmen. These events consist of activities that are supposed to encourage you to socialize. And you probably don’t realize this, but those events are where the rest of the people are who are also trying to make friends.
Volunteer Your Friend Time
If you’ve got a big heart, you’ll probably want to hang with like, loving minds. Volunteering for causes you care about is a great way to get out there and introduce yourself to new people. That automatically gives you a topic to talk about that you know you are both interested in. When talking about causes you are passionate, that leads to even more conversation that is beyond the surface. Those are exactly the kind of conversations you need to build lasting friendships. There are so many good causes to get behind. In fact, a lot of schools have clubs specifically dedicated to volunteering. From walking dogs at an animal shelter to packaging goods for the holidays to hand out to the less fortunate, there are endless opportunities for college students to get together, do some good, and build friendships.
Bond Over Food
For introverts, this may be the hardest piece of advice, but sometimes making friends starts with you initiating it. But it doesn’t have to be the terrifying, “Hey! Let’s be friends!” convo. Instead, it could be a simple, “I’m hungry. Are you heading to the cafeteria? If so, can I tag along?” If you’ve got the cash, you can also ask to buy a person a coffee in exchange for help with a difficult class or to talk about a professor that’s annoying you.
Another great place to meet people is in the dining hall on campus. Everybody eats at different times and even those with the most friends end up eating alone a few times. When in the dining hall, scan the room for someone sitting alone. Once you have locked your eyes on someone, approach them and introduce yourself and ask them if they mind you sitting with them. From there, the conversation will start itself. Just talk about where you are from, what your major is, etc.
Just be careful when you are scanning the room for someone. Don’t approach anyone that looks preoccupied. Anyone with headphones is not an option. That is like the nice way of saying leave me alone! It also might not be the best idea to approach someone who is on their computer or who has a book in front of them. They are probably doing some last minute homework and don’t have time to socialize.
Embrace Group Projects
Is there anything worse than group projects? Probably not. But instead of groaning and whining, look at group work as an opportunity to open yourself up to others. With the internet, it can be super easy to do a group project together without ever actually speaking to each other, but opt out of that! Get to know your groupmates and make getting together a fun social activity. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. After a day or hard work, ask if anyone wants to join you for lunch. You’d be surprised that most people are just waiting for an invitation. By getting together in the flesh, you will learn each other’s personalities and even if you are not best friends by the end of the assignment, at least you will have someone to say hi to when you pass them on campus. And you never know, maybe you will find a great friend!
But just remember it starts with being a great partner by pulling your weight, making time for the assignment, and listening to other’s opinions. Afterward, you can all go out and celebrate being done with shared assignments over some pizza. In addition to group projects, when you are in class, make sure to participate in group discussions. If you sit in silence for an entire semester, can you blame anyone for not noticing you? Speak up so everyone will learn a bit more about who you are. If you do that, you will make friends by just going to class!
Be Yourself Every Day
When you’re not great at putting yourself out there, it can be tempting to want to change your look or personality. But that’s a mistake. Who you are inside is who you should be embracing. People who can’t see how wonderful and great you are, are missing out -- not you. Continue to be out there, open to new experiences, and positive and the right friends will find you. College can also be a time to redefine yourself. If you're nervous or scared in social situations, it is okay. Chances are that many of the people there are as well. Once you are able to do it the first time, it will feel amazing and you will want to continue putting yourself out there. Soon, you will be the talk of the dorm halls!