Diverse group of college friends taking selfie from below with silly faces

How to Find Your Friend Group in College

Whether you’re a first-year, transfer, or returning student, check out this great advice on how to find the people you want to be friends with in college!

When you’re dreaming of your ideal college experience, what do you think of? Whether it's getting straight A’s, going out on weekends, or attending every football game, there’s one thing that no good college experience can do without: community. Having a group of people who make you feel comfortable being who you are is important during any part of life, but especially during your collegiate years—a time of profound change that will require the support of good friends. However, being nervous about finding community in a new place is a universal experience. As a rising senior, I’m here to give you some tips and tricks that I wish I had known about making friends in college.

You’re not going to be friends with everybody

When I first started college, I remember the excitement I felt about meeting new people and making friends. As a self-proclaimed extrovert, I considered myself to be everyone’s cup of tea. But it didn’t take long for my naive expectations of popularity to be shattered. Throughout my time as an undergrad, I’ve met many people who don’t seem to like me, but I’ve also met people who I didn’t particularly want to be friends with either. I wish somebody had told me it's okay not to be liked by everyone and that it certainly doesn’t make you a bad person. In college and life, you’re going to meet many new people who have different morals, values, and beliefs than you. If your morals, values, and beliefs don’t line up with another person’s, you may not be best friends with them, and that's okay! Neither of you is in the wrong or the bad guy; you’re just two different people on two separate paths, and it's all right if those paths don’t cross. And remember: You should never adjust your beliefs just to fit into someone else’s narrative. 

Related: Video: Making Friends in High School vs. College

Just be yourself

The piece of advice you’ll never stop hearing no matter how old you get is to “just be yourself.” It turns out that it's repeated so much because it's true! When you’re confident in who you are, you’ll naturally attract people with the same energy. If you try to force a personality to get in with a certain friend group, you’ll never end up with real friendship. Real attracts real and fake attracts fake. Sometimes—especially during your late teens to early 20s—you won’t know exactly who you are. So how can you “be yourself” if you don’t truly know who that is? My solution is to just be the kind of person you admire; then you’ll attract friends that you admire.

Actively seek out community

If you’re passionate about having a community at college, you need to make sure you're acting on it. Luckily, there are usually an endless amount of ways to do this, from joining a club related to your interests to getting an on-campus job, from talking to the people around you in class to attending student-run events. Joining organizations related to your interests guarantees that you’ll meet people with the same interests as you. This is a great foundation for friendships as well as a good résumé booster! On-campus jobs have similar perks: You’ll become more familiar with your campus, create connections for your future, and make friends while working toward a common goal.

Campus-run events are very common at most universities, especially at the beginning of the semester to help new students make friends and feel more at home. At the University of North Carolina Wilmington, we have a whole week dedicated to first-year students called UNCWelcome. Through organized events, students get the opportunity to meet people in their class, interact with them in a non-stressful setting, and create strong bonds during the first week of classes. When you’re attending a welcome week, club meeting, or other event on campus, it never hurts to be the one to introduce yourself to someone else first. Remember, everyone is just as nervous to be in this unfamiliar environment as you are (or they remember the feeling!). Don’t be afraid to invite someone out to coffee or share your number with them to get class notes. They’ll most likely be happier than you expect, and if they aren’t, it’s not the end of the world—remember, you aren’t going to be friends with everyone, and that’s okay!

Related: 10 Things to Do During Your First Week of College

As you start your college journey, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. The best foundation for a solid friend group is self-confidence and assurance of one’s character. If you present yourself like someone you’d enjoy being friends with, you’re sure to attract the kind of friends you want in your inner circle. No matter how long it takes, you will end up with your people, right where you're supposed to be.

Still nervous about socializing on campus? Get fully prepared with all Our Best Advice for Having Fun and Making Friends in College.

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About Alli DeMan

Alli DeMan

Alli DeMan has been passionate about writing for as long as she can remember, from poetry to nonfiction and everything in between. She aims to use her unique voice to give life to her personal experiences and loves to connect with others through her work. Originally from New York, Alli is currently studying English Literary & Cultural Studies with a minor in Journalism at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She's currently President of Sigma Tau Delta International English Honors Society and works at the UNCW Campus Writing Center as a Writing Consultant, where she helps students organize and edit their course essays. Upon graduation, she hopes to pursue a professional career in editing. Read Alli's poetry on Instagram or connect with her on LinkedIn.


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