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!