Published On: July 19, 2019
Reviewed On: July 19, 2019
Updated On: November 2, 2023
Friends are a huge part of what makes college fun. Some of your favorite memories in college will probably involve the friends you’ve made there. After all, school is about so much more than just going to class and doing well on exams. When you’re starting your first semester, it can be overwhelming to think about creating a bunch of new connections and forming a new group of friends. Socializing and making friends comes easily to some people, but for others, it can be anxiety inducing.
If the idea of meeting new people at college is scary to you, don’t worry — it’s totally normal! A lot of your classmates are probably feeling the same way you are. You shouldn’t let your fear and anxiety hold you back from living your best life at school and meeting your potential new besties! Here are 7 tips for making new friends in college and dealing with the anxiety that comes along with it.
This is one of the simplest pieces of advice in theory, but it can be hard for some people. Your friendships won’t be genuine if you aren’t being your genuine self. When you’re meeting a bunch of new people, it can be tempting to try to be someone you’re not to impress them, or tell white lies to seem a little cooler than you are…but don’t give in to temptation! Stay true to yourself and your interests. You’ll find other people who have the same hobbies as you and appreciate you just the way you already are. Think about it when roles are reversed. You want people to be themselves and be honest around you, right?
Chances are, you’re already a little out of your comfort zone at college, so why not take a step even further out of it? If you’re always retreating to your dorm to scroll through Instagram or watch Netflix, you’re not going to make new connections. You’ve got to put yourself out there! There are plenty of ways to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people, whether it’s by joining clubs, attending dorm events, or striking up conversation with classmates after class.
Some of the stress that comes along with making new friends in college is associated with feeling like you need to befriend everyone and anyone. While it’s great to have lots of friends, ultimately you should focus on quality over quantity. You don’t have to worry about making as many friends as possible. The reality is, you won’t be friends with everyone, and you don’t have to be! You won’t like everyone you meet, and not everyone who meets you will get along with you. That’s okay! Don’t let it get you down or make you feel discouraged. You’ll find your people with time.
Feeling anxious? You don’t have to hide it! In fact, opening up about some of your own struggles with anxiety is a great way to connect on a deeper level with people. When you open up to people, they’ll feel inspired to do the same. Plus, there’s nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to having anxiety, whether it’s in general or just specifically surrounding making new friends. A lot of people are feeling the same things you are. You’d probably be surprised if you knew just how many people were in the same boat as you!
If you try to make everyone happy, it’s probably going to end up backfiring. This goes back to being yourself. You don’t have to lie about your beliefs or values in order to make friends and please people. You also don’t have to say “yes” to every hangout or party you get invited to. Just like you can get burned out from studying and working too much, you can also get social burnout from socializing non-stop, especially if you’re naturally introverted. Above all else, you should want to please yourself.
Do you feel like your anxiety is really getting in the way of you making new connections and friendships? Heading to your school’s counseling center and meeting with a therapist is a great way to cope. With a therapist, you can discuss how you feel, learn new ways to manage your anxiety, and figure out if you have something going on that’s more than just normal nerves. Head to the U Lifeline website and enter your school to learn about the mental health resources it offers, but be sure to check out your school’s site too! And if going to the counseling center doesn’t sound that appealing, online therapy can offer a convenient and flexible option. You can text your licensed therapist anytime, anywhere about any issue that comes up — from making new friends to losing old ones and all the drama in between.
All of this being said, it’s super important to spend some time by yourself once in a while too, in order to recharge, reflect, and take care of yourself. Especially if you’ve been really busy and feel yourself getting strung out, it’s time to take a break! One of the most important relationships you’ll ever have is the relationship you have with yourself. Do what feels right for you.
Follow these tips and you’ll be right on track to forming solid, lasting relationships with your classmates. The more you get out of your comfort zone and socialize, it’ll get easier. With time, you’ll feel less anxiety surrounding making new friends. All you’ve gotta do is put yourself out there!
Ashley Laderer is a writer who aims to break the stigmas surrounding mental illness and make fellow anxiety and depression sufferers feel less alone. She splits her time between New York and Los Angeles. Her hobbies include long walks on the beach...and also long walks to the fridge.