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Between long hours of studying, working, and simply trying to catch up on sleep, college can leave little room for socializing. Ideas for being more social include attending events around campus and studying in public spaces. Whether you’re an introvert or a social butterfly, there are countless ways to make friends in college, so you just have to try something new.
From bartending to chatting with your neighbors, here are 10 socializing ideas to help you make new friends.
1. Attend Events
Most universities host plays, concerts, free classes, and workshops. Many schools also celebrate holidays and host fundraisers. Sign up for your campus newsletter to stay informed about upcoming events. Check bulletin boards for flyers and snap a picture of anything that sounds interesting. Then, add the dates to your calendar so you remember to go.
In addition to campus events, see if anything is going on around town. Many events take place on weekends — if you can, try to keep Saturday and Sunday free on your schedule so you can have more opportunities to socialize.
2. Study in Public Spaces
Doing homework in your dorm has its merits, but it can also make you feel isolated. Set a goal to study at least once a week at the coffee shop, public library, or somewhere on campus, such as an outdoor seating area.
Even if you don’t talk to anyone, simply being around other people can meet some of your social needs. You can always wear noise-canceling headphones to create extra peace and quiet in public.
3. Practice Hobbies
Hobbies are a great way to meet other people and find something in common. Are you great at guitar? Attend local open mic nights at restaurants, bars, and hotels. If you’re an artist, start taking painting classes at the library or rec center. You can even practice new hobbies you haven’t mastered yet — learning something new alongside other people can be a great bonding experience.
One socializing idea is to give back to your community. In the U.S., 17.8% of people aged 18 to 24 did some form of volunteering in 2021, rising to 23.3% from age 25 to 44. When you volunteer, you’re bound to meet like-minded people and have many new opportunities to socialize.
You can attend highway cleanups, walk dogs at the animal shelter, or visit people living in nursing homes. Volunteer at the food pantry and get to know other altruistic people who want to make a difference. See if local state or national parks are looking for volunteers to do trail maintenance, clean facilities, or assist with public tours.
5. Use Friend-Finding Apps
Like dating apps but for making friends, friendship apps offer a way to get to know people in your area. Many offer similar features to dating apps, such as swiping on people’s profiles, sending private messages, and even live video chatting. You can often select the gender and age range of the people you want to meet.
Some examples of friendship apps include Bumble BFF, Wink, Yubo, and LMK.
6. Meet Your Neighbors
Not every college student chooses — or is able to afford — dorm life. Instead, some students live with their parents, roommates, or solo in a house or apartment. If that describes your living situation, make an effort to meet your neighbors. You never know how many potential friends live right around the corner!
7. Get a Social Job
If you’re looking for a part-time position, try to find one that lets you socialize at work. Jobs like bartending, waiting tables, or manning the front desk literally pay you to talk to people, which can help you meet locals and make friends.
You can also look for a social job on campus. See if your university library, bookstore, or magazine is hiring. You’ll probably bond with other students and can hang out after work.
8. Form Study Groups
See if other students would like to study with you outside of class. You can tutor students in need of help or study challenging subjects together, motivating each other to improve. Joining or forming study groups helps you get to know your classmates better and boost your grades at the same time.
9. Join School Clubs
Most universities offer formal or informal school clubs. Topics range from chess to biology to sewing, and most clubs offer many chances to socialize with other students. You might go on field trips, organize bake sales, attend conferences, or volunteer in the community together. Some clubs have stringent rules for joining — such as majoring in a certain subject — while others are open to anyone.
You can look for clubs that will help you develop new skills or improve in certain classes, or simply join a social club like a sorority to meet new friends. Joining a club could even help your future career. One poll found that over 50% of students participating in Greek life had a job within two months of graduation, compared to just 36% of unaffiliated graduates.
10. Have People Over
Invite people to your dorm or house to get to know them better. Some socializing ideas include hosting game nights, movie nights, or lunch. Make an effort to clean your place beforehand and ensure you have plenty of food, drinks, and other amenities for people to make themselves comfortable.
Why Socializing Is Important
Humans are social creatures. Even if you’re an introvert, socializing is still necessary for your mental and physical health. A full 21% of survey participants in one study reported severe loneliness during the pandemic, which, for many people, contributes to poor immune function and even premature death. Research has also linked social isolation to high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Socializing has profound benefits for your mind and body. Plus, meeting people helps you make connections that could lead to getting a job, forming a romantic relationship, finding a better place to live, or even just discovering new places to eat and go shopping.
Keys to Making Friends in College
College can be hectic, but you should always set aside time for being social. Some socializing ideas include using apps to make friends and volunteering in your community. If you go out of your way to meet new people and enrich their lives, you’re bound to make new friends in no time.