11 Smart Ways to Make Friends in College

Female Students on Campus Quad
As a college student, you have so many unique opportunities ahead of you: the opportunity to learn about countless subjects, to become involved in all sorts of clubs and activities, and, of course, to meet wonderful people from all over the world. These people often wind up becoming your friends and, if you’re lucky, lifelong friends! The prospect of putting yourself out there and taking a chance on others can be daunting or even downright scary, but we promise – if you intentionally set out to turn acquaintances into friends, you’ll be successful!

Not sure where to start? Try out these 11 tips to find your newest besties on campus!

Use the Dorm to Your Advantage

If you live in one of the residence halls on campus, resist the urge to hole up in your room all day every day. Make the most out of living on campus. Get out and meet the other Bearcats on your floor! There are students who are just like you – eager to make new friends but unsure or nervous. Say hi to everyone you see in the hall or even pop your head in for a quick hello if someone has their door open. With that, remember to keep your own door open most times; this shows that you’re inviting people to stop by and say hello! Make it a point to talk to everyone in your residence hall at least once!

UNI 101 Leaders
Join a Club or Organization That Interests You

There’s nothing better than befriending like-minded people who share the same passions as you! Find a group on campus to join this year, whether it’s a club, organization, religious group, academic club, or service organization. Taking part in things that interest you alongside others can provide common ground to help you strike up a conversation and make a new friend!

Take Your Studying to a More Social Space

On the days when you have a lighter workload than normal, take your textbooks out of your dorm room and into a more social setting on campus. Catch up on your reading and enjoy the fall weather on the Quad, or make yourself more seen by solving equations at the 1828 Café. You’re sure to find someone who would be willing to take a break from studying and chat for a bit!

Put Your Phone Away

You might feel compelled to pull out your phone and scroll through social media as you walk through campus to feel a little less awkward. While your smartphone can act as a security blanket, it’ll get in the way of making connections with others. As you go through your day, keep your phone in your backpack (or back in your dorm room) and take in your surroundings. Smile and say “hi” to students, faculty, and staff who pass you by on the sidewalks. Doing this shows the world that you are interested and engaged with what’s going on around you – and ready to make some friends!

Introduce Yourself

Okay, we know – this can be intimidating, especially if you’re shy or have social anxiety. But we promise, it’s not as scary as it seems! In fact, the student next to you might be feeling the same way you do. You don’t have to overthink this one; just say something like, “Hi, my name is …” and maybe add a small detail (“I’m in your psychology class,” or “This is my first time at the anime club meeting.”). This will help break the ice and make you more memorable to whomever you’re speaking with.

Be Ready for Small Talk

No one really likes small talk, but it’s necessary to get a conversation going. And don’t worry – it doesn’t mean you’re forever doomed to talk about the weather. Small talk could include giving someone a compliment, asking a question about an upcoming assignment or campus event, talking about stress and studying, or even sharing an amusing experience you had recently. From there, you can ask intriguing open-ended questions and start to dig into deeper, more meaningful topics.

Find Some Common Ground

What brings people together and establishes great friendships? Mutual interests and hobbies, that’s what. After you get through the semi-awkward small talk, try to find some common ground to see what you and other Bearcats have in common. Maybe you both love sports, gaming, the same TV shows, art, or obscure English progressive rock bands. Once you both find out that you enjoy the same things, you’re on your way to becoming friends!

Students in Dining Hall
Eat Your Meals with Others

Listen, it’s so easy to just grab something from Ames, the 1828 Café, or the Lair and eat in your dorm or apartment. But if you want to make some friends, it’s important to share meals alongside others. Resist the urge to sit alone at a table and stare into your phone. Load up your tray, sit with your fellow students, and enjoy some laughs and good times with your soon-to-be friends!

Attend Campus Events Often

Speaking of getting out of your room, we challenge you to get out of your comfort zone and attend campus events frequently – at least once a week – if you want to make friends. You’ll learn new things together, laugh and enjoy performances from visiting artists together, and build upon shared experiences, which can forge fun friendships!

Always Be Kind

Everyone wants to be friends with someone who is an overall kind and caring person. Remember to smile, ask how the other person is doing, treat them as you’d like to be treated, and learn to open up and be vulnerable. Your kindness and authenticity will draw people to you!

Students in Car
Be Yourself

It’s natural to want to blend in and be or act like others so they’ll like you. Unfortunately, that’s not the way to get true, lifelong friends. While it might seem scary, do your best to let your true personality and passions shine through. The people who want to be your real friends will be drawn to you and want to spend time with you!

Making friends in college doesn’t have to be hard or scary, but it does require a little bit of effort. The result – lifelong friends – will be more than worth it, though. You’ve got this, Bearcats!