How to Make Friends at Out-of-State Universities

Out-of-state students may feel out of place on college campuses far from home, but these tips will help them make new friends in no time.

According to the Department of Education, the out-of-state student population has nearly doubled since 1986. These students often feel out of place on college campuses far from home, especially when the majority of the student body is from that state. However, though they may not start school with an entire friend group already established, they can certainly build one by following these tips.

Take advantage of welcome week

Most college campuses offer a few days for new students to acquaint themselves with the university before classes start. Use this time to branch out and meet new people. Usually first-year students have yet to establish a group of friends this early on in the year, so they’ll be more open to hanging out with unfamiliar people. Many will be out-of-state students themselves and will be interested in hearing where you’ve come from and why you chose that school. Meeting new people can be stressful, but most are open to making friends once you get past the initial anxiety.

Get to know your dormmates

You’ll see the people in your dorm nearly every day. Frequent interaction like that allows friendships to form smoothly and organically. So leave your door open when you’re not studying, hang out in the lounge, and go where others are congregating.

Psychologically, most people accept that they’ll have to get along with their dormmates for at least that year. Dorms aren’t like classes you attend a few times a week with many different seats to choose from. Living arrangements like dorms are pretty much set in stone for months, so most people won’t erect the mental barriers to newcomers they might in other situations.

Plus, dorm relationships can be extremely useful in the future. Though you might not live together sophomore year, you may attend the same classes or join the same clubs. Having someone to sit next to, study with, or just gossip about your class with will make you feel more comfortable during stressful times.

Get involved

The best friendships are built on similar values and interests. Clubs and organizations that align with your values and interests are the best way to meet people who share them. College life can be an extremely tough adjustment, so trying out new clubs can be stressful and sometimes seem unproductive. But if you can commit to just one or two, you’re all but guaranteed to meet new friends without sacrificing too much study time.

Student organizations are important for your future as well. Anyone applying for a job can tell you it’s not your grades that distinguish you from other applicants but the depth of your experiences. (And clubs are a heck of a lot more fun than classes anyway.)


Bottom line: the people you meet will make or break your college experience. College can be rough for everyone, especially out-of-state students. But if you take a step outside your comfort zone and take advantage of the resources your school provides, you’ll find plenty of friends await you. 

Where have you met your best friends at college? Let us know in the comments!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Evan Brown

I’m a 20-year old sophomore at Indiana University. Though below average in height I make up for it in…well, I’m still figuring that out. Indecision and future planning haunt me, so I distract myself by pondering language, analyzing stories, and figuring out what to eat for lunch. I’m not searching for my purpose in life. I’m manifesting my own. Pasta sounds good today.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress


High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress gave me options of schools with my major and from there I was able to pick what was most important to me in a school. Everything was so organized that I could see all the information I needed.



High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me organize the schools I wanted to choose from in one place, which I could then easily compare and find the school that was right for me!

Maurice Whan

Maurice Whan

$2,000 Spring Scholarship Contest Winner, 2021

This year has been tough for my family and myself, so receiving this scholarship has been a blessing in disguise! CollegeXpress has been an excellent resource in helping me prepare financially for college. Thank you again for this amazing opportunity!

Chris Bell

Chris Bell

Bell College Consulting

The college lists on CollegeXpress are indispensable for sussing out creative additions to a student’s list, and the college-specific pages provide terrific commentary and suggestions for related schools. CollegeXpress is among the most trusted sources I use for information for my students.

Jeannie Borin, MEd

Jeannie Borin, MEd

President and Founder, College Connections

I frequently visit CollegeXpress to answer questions from students and parents. There are countless hot topics in admissions that need to be addressed. I enjoy reading what my colleagues post and gain additional insight from different perspectives.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook, NY