Don't worry — here's how to make friends in college

Bonding 101 🤝

Dorm with white bed and wall art
(Image credit: Dormify)

Being a college student is hard but making friends doesn’t have to be. Having a social life can be one of the most rewarding parts of going to college, but finding people that share your common interests isn’t always easy. 

Don't worry if you're a little shy, you won't have to look too far to find someone to bond with. You may even get along with your roommate really well!

Whether you're preparing for your freshman year or in the last semester of your senior year, here are a few ideas to put yourself out there, find your people, and start forming friendships. 

1) Try Something Completely New

It’s a no-brainer that joining activities and clubs will allow you to meet more people, but doing something completely outside of your comfort zone could force you out of your element. A great way to meet people you otherwise would not have, taking a class outside of your usual hobbies or interests is a great way to discover new friends. 

2) Volunteer For A Good Cause 

Volunteer opportunities, from loading boxes at a food bank to feeding kittens at an animal shelter, is a great way to meet people and make friends. More than just a great resume builder, volunteering can also teach you new skills and improve your self-esteem. Finding friends through volunteering is also a great way to surround yourself with people who are also dedicated to changing or helping their community. 

3) Start A Study Group 

Studying is hard enough which is why studying with a group of your fellow students can be a great way to make the time pass (and learn more than you can on your own). By surrounding yourself with people who are also learning the material from your class, you can improve your test scores, your knowledge on the subject, and your social life. Foreign language or literature classes are some of the best subjects to learn in a group environment. Practice your French or discuss your assigned reading aloud and you could walk away with a better grade. 

4) Get A Part-Time Local Or On-Campus Job

Meeting friends at work is a skill that you’ll need your entire life as you learn to navigate co-working relationships and networking. In college, a part-time job on or off campus is also a great way to meet friends. Learning together on the job or co-navigating complex situations is a great way to forge connections. 

5) Start Your Own Club 

Were you the president of your high school chess league only to go to college and discover there is no chess club? Don't panic. Many colleges allow students to create their own clubs. Start by posting flyers and getting the word out. Starting your own club is a great way to meet people who share your common interests. 

6) Throw A Dorm Party

On college campuses, you’re not alone in your search for connection. Most other students surrounding you are also looking to form new friendships and gain new experiences. This is a great reason to take the reins yourself by hosting a party in your dorm room and inviting everyone you see in the hallways, common rooms, and quad. Try incorporating activities or games in your party to get people to connect. Whether you end up having a blowout legendary time, or just meet a handful of people, putting yourself out there is a great step to gaining more confidence in finding friends. 

7) Find A Workout Buddy 

Whether you frequent the campus gym or often take a yoga class near campus, finding a friend to work out with can create a relationship that’s based on helping each other improve your physical health. A great workout buddy can be someone you set up daily or weekly check-ins in order to help motivate one another. 

8) Join An Amaetuer Sport League 

Maybe you aren’t part of your university’s football or tennis teams, but not to fear — amateur sports leagues often pop up in and around college campuses. Whether you want to try out kickball or relive your high school soccer days, securing a spot on a less formal team allows you to make friends with shared interests. Bonus: It’ll also keep you moving! 

9) Consider Greek Life

Nothing is better for developing close friendships than living together, working together, volunteering together, and being a part of something bigger. This is what Greek Life can offer new students. Joining a sorority or fraternity is a chance to connect to the history of the university. With a built-in friend group that spans dozens (or hundreds, or thousands, depending on the organization), once you’re in, you’re almost guaranteed to have someone you can relate to. 

10) Throw A Decorating Party

Let’s face it, dorm rooms can be stark. After move-in day has passed and everyone is settled, consider throwing a decorating party. This could include a trip to a big box store for more items for your room (for example, those curtains you need to spruce up your place, or a new plant). By helping each other decorate, everything from rearranging furniture to decluttering a desk, you can create a shared task that will open up more conversations. 

11) Find The Active Students

Still at a loss of where to go or who to talk to? Consider finding the most social or outgoing students you can find and strike up a conversation. Be open about any suggestions they might have for activities, clubs, or parties you can attend. By finding the people who are already enjoying an active social life, you can use their knowledge to find the people that are right for your life. 

12) Don’t Settle For Friends Who Don’t Serve Your Life 

After meeting various groups of people, you might be tempted to settle for friends who don’t respect you. By setting boundaries and learning how to find friends that serve your life well, you can create long-lasting social connections that will continue long after graduation day. No matter where or how you meet your new friends, be sure they are the types of people you want in your day-to-day life. 

Kate Santos

Hello! I’m Kate Santos, a writer and photographer based in Los Angeles. In the design world, I got my start working as an Editorial Intern for Dwell magazine in San Francisco. Since then, I’ve written about design and architecture in many national magazines and online publications, including Playboy, Hunker, and The Culture Trip.

I grew up in a very old house in North Carolina and am still influenced by the rustic, charming, antique and aged elements of a home. Sustainability and longevity is extremely important to me and I believe learning to reuse materials or purchasing items you’ll love forever goes a long way. I also lean towards the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi when designing my own home, embracing the perfectly imperfect items I can find.