The introvert’s guide to making friends in college.

First off: Before I start can we please have a moment of silence for how ridiculously fast this summer is going?

Ok. Thank you.

Now considering summer is already more than half way over, Targets everywhere are rolling out the big guns when it comes to back to school displays. A new generation of college freshman are freaking out, and their parents are getting misty eyed every time they think about their baby moving 800 miles away.

For a lot of people – they go to school knowing nobody. And there is nothing more terrifying to them than the prospect of not making friends, trust me I was there. But I had the adavantage of two hometown friends at school with me. Even then I had all sorts of fears running through my head: “What if people don’t like me?” “What if I embarrass myself?” “Am I going to be awkward?”

And to answer those questions: People liked me despite the fact that I was constantly embarrassing my awkward self.

Maybe I was more nervous than others. On paper I’m the poster child for somebody who would have trouble making friends at college: I’m introverted, fairly quiet, and my idea of a wild night is watching Legally Blonde One and Two without falling asleep. Going to a huge ‘party school’ like the University of Illinois was so intimidating to me because a lot of people there really didn’t care to socialize outside of a party setting.

But even then I made friends. Not right away, mind you, and the ones I made at first were my friends until Thirsty Thursday rolled around and I wouldn’t see them again until Monday. But after some trial and error in the social scene I’ve made some really great friends at school that I wouldn’t trade for the world.


General Tips:

  • As a rule, staying holed up in your dorm is the opposite of what you want to do if you’re trying to make friends.
  • No excuses! Even if you’re shy, awkward, etc. people are still going to like you! And you’ll find the more that you socialize the less awkward you feel!
  • Be brave! I know how scary it is to strike up conversation, but the worst that can happen is it flops. And like I said, it gets easier the more you practice!

Make friends in classes.

I met one of my closes friends doing one of those cheesy team building games on the first day of my seminar class. We had to go on a scavenger hunt and rather than having a bad attitude about it like a lot of the class, we paired up and rolled with it. We found out that we had a lot in common including a nearly identical class schedule and the two of us managed to round up a few other friends in our classes and went from there.

Join clubs.

Joining clubs and student organizations at my school is the best decision I’ve made for both my social and my professional life. I was motivated to join so I would look well rounded on my grad school applications, but I got so much more out of my involvement! I am heavily involved with debate, swimable, belly dance, and operation smile, and through these clubs I have made some really great friends, and they keep my busy, too!

Keep your door open.

If you live in a dorm room keep your door open if you’re in your room! That invites people walking by to pop their heads in and introduce themselves! And likewise, if you’re walking down the hall you should say hi to anyone who has their door open! Take this from personal experience: It’s super awkward to not know the people who live directly next to you.

Ask if you can join in.

If you see people slacklining on the quad or playing frisbee and it looks fun – ask if you can join! Worst case scenario is that they say no and you move on. But people are generally pretty friendly and chances are that they’ll let you play!

Tag along.

Related to the last tip: If a friend is going to hang out with people that you don’t really know then ask if you can join! You’ll have the friend you know as a lifeline if you don’t get on with anyone there, but it’s pretty likely that you’ll like your friend’s friends!

Keep in mind:

  • Don’t let introversion define you. As far as introverts go I’m fairly outgoing, but I haven’t always been. It took a lot of putting myself out there and feeling embarrassed, but now I don’t care much if people judge me or not. (And do you want to know a secret? People are too worried about themselves to be judging you!)
  • Not making friends at first is normal. People like to pretend that they are doing a lot better than they are when they go away to college, so don’t feel bad if all of your old friends are talking about all of the new friends they’ve made and you’re stuck feeling lonely. Chances are some of them are putting on a show.
  • Step out of your comfort zone! A few of the clubs I joined are very unlike me and they are where I made my closest friends. Try it, and if you don’t like it you can quit!

Now go get ’em! You’re going to do great!


  • This is such a great post! I was an introvert in college (and still am). I wish I had pushed myself to join in more and make more friends. I will say that I joined one group in college and met the woman who is now my best friend!

    • That is incredible how that works out! My freshman year I didn’t push myself much, but sophomore year I did and that’s when everything seemed to fall together for me!

  • Abbie

    Awesome! I love this. As a fellow introvert who is extremely shy and, sadly, extremely awkward on the social scene, I completely welcome this advise. I was already thinking of joining some groups and hopefully this will get the ball rolling. Thanks so much! 🙂

    • Yes, definitely join groups! That was hands down the very best decision I made!! Good luck, you’re going to do great! 🙂

  • Great post; I would definitely recommend those tips to any introverted college student! I had a hard time with being introverted in high school, but I was determined to make more of an effort to meet people/make friends when I went to college. I met a few friends from my dorm, and then I also joined a sports club and made some great friends through that. 🙂

  • I’m chronically extroverted, so although I don’t understand what it’s like to not constantly want to introduce yourself to absolutely everyone you ever make eye contact with or even just see across a room, I understand what it feels like to be alone. I think that there’s a specific type of loneliness that comes from knowing everyone but not really connecting with them.
    Your points for getting involved help with that so much! That’s what brings people from acquaintances to friends! 🙂

    Love the post, Morgan!

  • Rachel

    Great post as always! This has helped ease my mind for this fast approaching fall 🙂

  • I can’t remember how I came across your blog but now I can’t get myself away! Your posts are so helpful, especially this one..
    In June, I left Iowa and moved to a Chicago suburb. I’m eighteen and living in the basement of the family I work for. I have zero friends here. I’m slowly starting to realize friends aren’t just going to appear.
    Reading this post was really encouraging. I need to let go of this ridiculous fear of rejection and start a dang conversation with strangers.

  • Karlye

    I randomly just came across this post and connected with it so much! I’m a very introverted person and I did some of your tips my freshman year when I was living in the dorms and it really paid off! I was nervous coming to a big school too (University of Missouri!), but I didn’t want my introverted personality to hold me back from the overall college experience that I came here for. I found that putting myself in situations where I felt really awkward was obviously uncomfortable, but I had so much fun once I just enjoyed the moment and stopped psyching myself out!

  • Pratik Das

    I’m in some shitty college in India…. where they do not believe in having all these social gatherings/activities………. It’s my 2nd week, and I haven’t talked to anyone properly. Is there something wrong with me ? You know, being a social outcast, and belonging from a totally different region…… makes me think like I probably won’t find a friend who shares same interest as me. Just saying.