College is an amazing time of personal growth, but it’s also tough—not just because of studying, tests, and grades. You’re learning more about yourself, focusing on doing well, meeting literally hundreds of people, and feeling out new environments. Having the additional headspace to make friends in college is a big ask.
We know putting yourself out there, especially if you're feeling lonely, can be anxiety-inducing—the good news is that you’ll quickly meet new friends, friends of friends, and friends of theirs. Soon, you’ll likely have a healthy circle of people to join you in studying, grabbing food, or watching a show.
Remember: If you don’t meet your people on day one, that’s OK and completely normal. Being you is the most important thing, and you don’t need to pretend to like anything or anyone. If you stay true to your likes and interests, you’ll soon find friends that make you smile.
OK! The pep talk is done. Let’s get into practical tips to help make your college years sparkle with lots of new friends. You got this.
Tips & techniques for making friends in college
Let’s start with Making Friends 101 (more enjoyable than Econ 101, we promise). Talking to people is key. Consider practical ways to get conversations started and keep them going. Firstly, there’s nothing wrong with asking:
- Where are you from?
- What’s your major?
Alena, 20, says, “I remember answering those same two questions over and over in the first couple of weeks of college, but that’s OK! Everyone is in the same position, and it’s a great way to get chatting with new people.”
Once you’ve passed those openers, we love conversation starters like these:
- What made you choose this school?
- Are you thinking about joining any clubs or orgs?
- Do you have any pets you miss at home? (Don’t be shy about sharing your pet pics here too.)
Aim for questions that allow for more than yes or no answers. Not only will it help you avoid awkward silences, but you’ll also get to know more about who you’re chatting to and see if you find yourself drawn to them as friends.
Call in back-up
College is for fresh starts, but it’s possible to involve your old friends in making new friends, too. Yolande, 20, was joined by her friend Amy, 20, at Orientation Week.
“Amy’s Orientation didn’t start until the following week, so she visited me at my college. It’s so much easier to show up to a party or just walk into any room when there are two of you, and we went to a few things I probably wouldn’t have been brave enough to show up to alone. Thanks to her, I met lots of people that I wouldn’t have run into otherwise!”
You may also know people from your high school or hometown who are going to the same school as you. Even if you don’t know them well, it’s worth reaching out. They might feel anxious about being in a new place or meeting new people, and a familiar face goes a long way. You could offer to go to some events with them, and in exchange, they could come to something you’re keen to go to—walking into the room with someone you know can really settle your nerves.
Tips for making friends as an introvert
If you’re introverted, just having a conversation or meeting lots of new people can be a drain. It’s OK to need some alone time and not want to attend every event that pops up.
Try exploring activities and clubs, as there’s something for everyone. Look for more relaxed events, like board game nights, hiking clubs, or something else you like to do. Stay true to yourself and don’t put yourself in situations that make you feel uncomfortable—there’s no need to join an acapella group if being on stage is your idea of a nightmare. As well as looking to make friends, remember to mark out some recharge time for yourself and don’t overcrowd your schedule. Your brain will thank you later.
Where to look for new friends in college
It’s not always easy to find new friends in college, and you’ll be stepping out of your comfort zone. Let’s be clear about what that means: It doesn’t mean accepting situations where you feel unsafe or unhappy. If you don’t want to do something or talk to someone, leaving the situation is fine. Instead, think about being brave enough to do what you dream about—not forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do.
Our number one tip? Get out of your dorm room. Get out for a walk, have a meal in the dining hall, or hang out with a book or laptop in your dorm’s social space. It’s like doing exercise—just putting your workout clothes on and going to the gym is usually enough to inspire a workout. In the same way, just getting out of your room and putting yourself in a social space is usually enough to meet a new person or get a conversation going. Remember to stay safe, though, and always let someone you trust know where you’re going and what you’re up to.
Orgs and clubs
We love this way to find your people: Joining clubs and organizations on campus. The more you can get involved with your school's community, the more likely you'll make friends with similar interests.
College is the time to explore who you are and what you love. Scroll through that orgs and clubs list, and we guarantee you’ll find something interesting you’ve never thought of trying before. Shameless plug: have you considered being a Bumble Honey?
Ella, 19, says, “I wouldn’t have considered myself sporty before I went to college, but I joined the Ultimate Frisbee team in my first few weeks. The team was so welcoming, and it was laid-back for a sports team—all about having fun and getting some exercise, no talent needed! Now, my team members are some of my best friends. I’m so glad I tried it.”
College is the perfect time to get involved with something new, as we can almost guarantee you won’t be the only beginner. In fact, these groups often put on specific events, training sessions, and intro parties for newbies in the first few weeks of each semester. Don’t miss them!
Just hang out on campus
Campus is usually a great place to socialize, meet people, and make new connections. Make sure you attend orientation events, as it’s a shortcut to making new friends in college. Hot tip: you can do this even if you’re not a freshman, and you’ll find lots of others doing it, too.
Beyond orientation week, try going to campus to eat and study at least some of the time. See if there are study groups to get involved with (good grades are a great upside) and check out campus events like lectures and concerts. It’s the only time in your life when events and places to hang out will be available without expensive entry fees!
When you spend more time on campus, you’ll likely start seeing familiar faces, pass the same people in the hallways, and say hi more than you realize. Side effects may include eating lunches with new people, lots of studying-but-actually-having-conversations, and making new friends. Neat.
Your college community is so important—they can support you through beautiful memories, testing moments, and daily life. With these tips and techniques, we hope you’re feeling prepared to make new friends in college.
Want to start making those connections right away? Bumble For Friends is a safe, kind space to find friendships in all stages of life. Download it now to start making lasting connections.