50 Ways to Make Friends in College

It doesn't matter if you're shy or outgoing, there are endless ways to connect

Making New Friends at College

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Making friends in college can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you're getting ready to start classes for the first time or you're enrolled in a new semester of classes and don't know any of your classmates.

Fortunately, since college communities are constantly changing—new students are enrolling, old ones are coming back from being abroad, new classes are starting, and new clubs are forming—meeting people and making friends is simply part of the normal routine. If you're not sure where exactly to start, however, try any (or all!) of these ideas.

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Introduce Yourself

Every time you sit down next to someone you don't know—especially in class—introduce yourself. It might be awkward for the first five seconds, but taking that initial leap of faith can do wonders for starting friendships. And you're not committed to a long conversation, either, or to having to deal with long awkward silences. Once the teacher or professor enters the classroom, you'll both have to refocus your attention. 

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Leave Your Room

This is perhaps the simplest, easiest, and most basic way of all to make friends during your time in school. Is it okay to spend some quiet time in your room, taking a break from the campus chaos and focusing on your academics? Of course. But you'll also need to step outside of that little safety zone if you're going to find and make friends.

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Hit the Quad

It's not just your room that can be isolating. Much of your day can easily be spent inside: inside your residence hall or apartment, inside eating, inside classrooms and lecture halls, inside labs and libraries. Head outside for some fresh air, some sunshine, and hopefully some conversations with others looking to do the same.

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Spend Time in Coffee Shops

On occasion, get away from campus entirely. Doing your homework or studying in a busy coffee shop can provide you with a change of scenery as well as with endless opportunities to start conversations—and maybe even friendships—with people who may or may not also be students.

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Start a New Conversation Once a Day

While you're out and about, focus on starting a conversation with at least one new person a day. It can be in the morning, it can be before class starts, or it can be late at night. Trying to talk to one new person each day can be a great way to meet people and, ultimately, make friends with at least some of them.

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Join a Cultural Club

Whether you join a cultural club because of your own heritage or because you've always been interested in a certain culture, it doesn't matter. Both reasons are valid, and both can be a great way to meet people.

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Start a Cultural Club

If there isn't a specific club for a culture or background you identify with, or you'd like to see an existing one better represented, why not start one of your own? It can be a great opportunity to learn some leadership skills and make new friends.

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Join an Intramural Sports Team

One of the best reasons to join an intramural sports team is that you don't have to be skilled (or even good)—these kinds of teams play just for fun. Consequently, they're a natural place to form and build friendships with your teammates.

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Try out for a Team

If you played a sport in high school, go ahead and try out for that same sport in college. Likewise, if you've played football your entire life and now want something new, see if you can be a walk-on for a different but related sport, like lacrosse or rugby. Sure, at super-competitive schools this might be a challenge, but you'll never know until you try.

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Start a Pickup League

Sports and physical activity don't have to be complicated. Starting a pick-up league—a casual meeting of, say, people who like to play vollyball—can be super easy. Send out a message, asking those people interested in joining games to meet at a certain place on a Saturday afternoon. Once folks show up, you'll have some new exercise partners and perhaps even some new friends.

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Get a Job on Campus

In addition to providing professional experience, networking opportunities, and cash, an on-campus job can provide another major benefit: an opportunity to meet people and form friendships. If you're particularly interested in connecting with others, apply for jobs that involve interacting with people all day long (in contrast to, say, working in a research lab or restocking shelves in the library).

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Get a Job off Campus

You might be struggling to meet people on campus because you're stuck in a routine, where you see and interact with the same people day after day. To mix things up, look for a job off campus. You'll shift your perspective a bit while coming into contact with new and interesting folks.

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Volunteer in the Community

Without even realizing it, you can get stuck in a bubble of sorts during your time in college. Volunteering off campus can be a great way to refocus your priorities, get a break from the chaos of school, meet new people—and, of course, make a difference in your community.

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Volunteer on Campus

You don't always have to head off-campus to volunteer. Ask around to find volunteer projects that let you stay on campus but also meet new people and improve your community along the way. Options can range from playing basketball with neighborhood kids to volunteering in a reading program. Either way, you'll undoubtedly end up meeting other volunteers who can quickly become friends, too.

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Organize a Volunteer Project

Whether it's picking up trash for Earth Day or collecting food donations for Thanksgiving, there's always a reason to help out others, no matter the time of year. Organizing a volunteer project can be a great way to be the change you wish to see in the world while also meeting like-minded people in the process.

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Hit the Gym

In addition to the physical benefits and the stress relief, working out can be a great way to meet people. Sure, lots of folks will be listening to music or in their own worlds while on the machines, but there are lots of other opportunities to strike up conversations—and friendships.

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Take a Non-Credit Exercise Class

For some people, having a scheduled class is the only way they'll stick to a regular exercise routine. If this sounds like you, consider a non-credit exercise class as a way to get your workout in and meet other folks. If you keep both as a goal, you'll be more likely to succeed in each.

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Take a For-Credit Exercise Class

For other students, if they're going to make the effort to go to a class—even an exercise class—they're going to want to get credit for it. And while one- or two-credit exercise classes have more obligations than traditional exercise classes, they also can be a great way to meet people with similar priorities and interests.

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Start a Physical Activity Club

Who says you can't mix fun with physical activity? Consider starting a club that lets you combine the two—Quidditch Club, anyone?—while also allowing you to meet similar folks who are both interesting and active.

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Join the Campus Newspaper

It takes a lot of teamwork to put your campus newspaper together, whether it comes out daily or weekly. As a member of the newspaper staff, you'll spend a lot of time with the writers, editors, and production people. Consequently, strong friendships can form as you work together to produce an important campus resource.

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Write for a Campus Magazine or Blog

Even if you view writing as a solo activity, when you write for a campus magazine or blog, you're most often part of a staff. Which, of course, means that you'll get to interact with folks during planning meetings, staff meetings, and other group events. And all that collaboration is sure to lead to some friendships along the way.

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Start or Join an Academics Club Oriented Toward Your Major

There are nearly always academic clubs on campus that focus on interests (like a Pre-Med Club) or performance (like Mortar Board), but there may not be one specifically for, say, English majors. Consider starting a club that is social in nature but targeted at students in your particular program. You can share tips on professors, classes, assignments, and job opportunities. 

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Start or Join a Non-Major Academics Club

Similar to a club for people in your major, clubs that cater to specific academic interests can be a great way to find other students to connect with. Students interested in creative writing, for example, might not all be English majors. An academic-based club can be a unique opportunity for people with similar interests to connect in ways that might not otherwise be available on campus.

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Check in With the Student Activities Association

It may sound silly at first, but the office on your campus that coordinates student clubs and organizations is a beehive of activity. There are always students coming and going, and activities being planned. And usually, too, these offices are looking for more people to help out. It's totally okay to walk in and ask how you can get involved. Chances are, by the time you leave, you'll have more opportunities for involvement—and friendship—than you know what to do with.

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Attend a Campus Event

Students can often feel like there's nothing going on or that whatever is going on doesn't apply to them. Instead of allowing this tension to keep you from doing anything, step outside of your comfort zone and learn something new. At least once a week, challenge yourself to go to a campus event you know nothing about. You might be surprised at what you learn—and whom you meet along the way.

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Form a Study Group

There are a lot of benefits to study groups—most notedly, of course, academic ones. Sometimes, though, if you can find a group of folks with whom you really connect, you can form friendships along the way. And what's not to like about that?

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Do Research With a Professor

Just because you're an undergraduate doesn't mean you can't work with a professor. If you have a professor whose interests closely align with your own, talk to him or her about doing research together. You'll likely end up having a great learning opportunity while also meeting other student researchers who share your interests.

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Plan a Program

If there's a program you'd like to see on your campus, you don't have to wait around for someone else to plan it. If, say, you'd like to bring a certain speaker to campus or plan an informative program around a specific topic, start the wheels turning on your own. Post advertisements in the quad or talk to someone in your student activities or engagement office about where and how to start. By asking for help, you'll improve your community and have a great excuse for connecting with others.

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Propose a Program

If you don't want to plan a program yourself, meet with the existing programming board on your campus. They are charged with creating and planning events that meet the needs of the community. If you have an idea for a particular program, ask your programming board how you can get involved. You'll meet the folks on the board, meet the needs of your community, and hopefully make a few friends along the way.

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Join a Performance-Based Club

If you love performing dance, theater, or any other art, join a club or organization that performs for your campus or surrounding community. Even if you're majoring in something other than your performance passion, you can still incorporate it into your college experience and find some like-minded friends along the way.

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Join the Campus Theatrical Company

It takes more than just the actors to make a production run. And theaters are great places to meet a lot of other people. Whether you're working in the box office or volunteering as a set designer, see how you can get connected to the theater community.

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Help out at the Campus Athletics Center

Similar to the campus theater, athletic centers require a lot of behind-the-scenes folks to make things run smoothly. You can pretty much do anything if you look into it, including working as a marketing intern or helping to organize major events.

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Organize a Clothing Swap

One great way to meet other people is to host a clothing swap. Since most students don't have a ton of money, they'll most likely welcome this opportunity to bring things they don't wear and trade them for things they will. The entire process can be super fun and a great way to meet new people.

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Run for Student Government

Contrary to, say, high school, you don't need to be popular to run for student government. But you do need to have a genuine interest in representing the needs of your fellow students and serving as a proactive, helpful voice. Going out and campaigning can help you meet people and, when you're elected, you'll likely form friendships with your fellow representatives.

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Run for Residence House Council

If campus-wide student government isn't your thing, try thinking closer to home and running for a residence hall council position. You'll get all the benefits—including friendships—that come with student government, but on a more manageable and more intimate scale.

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Run for Election in a Student Club or Organization

Speaking of student clubs: If you want to meet new friends, consider running for a leadership role in a student club or organization you're a member of. You'll gain some great leadership skills while also being connected with other student club leaders whom you might not have met were it not for leadership training, campus-wide funding meetings, and other events you'll be invited to attend.

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Form a Community Group

Whether or not you realize it, you inherently belong to multiple micro-communities on your campus. You might be a​​ commuter, a transfer student, a first-generation student, a single mother student, etc. If you don't see a certain club or organization that represents one of these communities, start one. It's an instant way to find people who are just like you and who are likely looking to connect with others, too.

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Sell Your Wares on the Quad

You don't have to form a company to make a little extra money off of your skill or hobby. If you make cute knitted hats or funky artwork, look into selling it on the quad. You'll get your name out, interact with a lot of people, and hopefully make some extra cash in the process.

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Form an Artistic Expression Group

Students often assume—and erroneously so—that clubs and organizations need to be outwardly producing. You don't have to put on programs or host events, however, to be a successful club. Try starting something that helps foster the creative sides of people: sessions where everyone gets together to paint, for example, or work on song writing. Sometimes, having structured time with a community of fellow artists can do wonders for your own creative expression.

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Join an Artistic Expression Group

Whether you're an experienced poet or someone who would like to get into painting, joining a club of fellow artists can do wonders for your soul. And while you might be taking classes in these subjects, having the freedom to do what you wish—instead of what's assigned—might make you more productive in unexpected ways. And along the way, you might form some great friendships with other students who understand what it's like to be an artist at heart.

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Join an On-Campus Religious Community

Some students leave behind religious communities that are a big part of their pre-college lives. And while it can be hard to duplicate the experiences you had back home, even on a largely secular campus you should be able to find a similar religious community to fulfill your spiritual and friendship needs.

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Join an Off-Campus Religious Community

For some students, however, going off campus to find a religious community might be their best bet. Consequently, you can find an entirely new-to-you community to join that will offer countless ways to form friendships with new people.

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Join a Fraternity/Sorority

There are lots of reasons to join a fraternity or sorority, and there's no shame in admitting that making friends is one of them. If you feel like your social circle needs a change or needs to be expanded, look into joining the Greek community.

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Be a Resident Advisor or Assistant

Even if you're shy, you can still be a great RA. True, RAs have to reach out and be outgoing at certain times, but introverts and shy folks can be great resources for a community, too. If you want to make some more friends, serving as an RA in a residence hall can be a great way to meet a lot of people while also challenging yourself.

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Be an Orientation Leader

Remember those effervescent students you met when you first arrived on campus? While they're in the spotlight for only a week or two at the start of a semester, they work pretty darned hard nearly all year long preparing. If you want to meet some new people, applying to be involved with orientation is a smart place to start.

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Volunteer in the Admissions Office

No matter what time of year it is, the admissions office is likely very busy—and interested in student help. Whether you're writing a blog or giving campus tours, helping out at the admissions office can be a fun and unique way to connect with other students and form friendships.

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Start a Musical Group or Band

You can be looking for some folks for an impromptu jazz performance at a local coffee shop, or for formal tryouts to start a band. If you're musically inclined (or just want to learn!), send out a campus email or other bulletin to see who else might be interested in playing together.

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Find a Mentor or Tutor

It's an unusual student who can make it through his or her college experience without needing some kind of mentoring or tutoring. Sometimes those relationships are informal—say, asking your sorority sister to help you understand themes in William Faulkner's work —or formal, like hiring a calculus tutor. If you want to add more friends to your circle, consider seeking out an official mentor or tutor.

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Be a Mentor or Tutor

Similar to finding a mentor or tutor, being a mentor or tutor can be a great way to build friendships. Keep in mind, too, that you might need a tutor in one subject (e.g., English) but be able to tutor in another (e.g., Chemistry). Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, so connecting with others while everyone helps out is a great way to meet people and form relationships.

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Talk to Everyone in Your Hall or Complex

Finally, have you met everyone in your residence hall or apartment building? If there are people you haven't met yet, challenge yourself to talk to them at least once. If nothing else, you'll connect yourself to an entire community and help plant the seeds for organic friendships to start.