The best way to minimise the worry of meeting new people at uni or college is actually trying to make connections before you start.
Your provider or Students’ Union (SU) might send you details of Facebook groups they've set up for your course, uni, college, or accommodation, and there might also be some set up by students themselves.
These groups are a great way to find and meet new people where you already have something in common. What could be better than moving into your new accommodation and seeing a familiar face of someone you’ve already met online? The same goes for your first lecture or seminar. Making these connections early on will give you more confidence to grow friendships with other people in your halls or on your course. Don’t be afraid to make the first move! Everyone’s in the same boat.
The Student Room
You’ve probably already used The Student Room through your time at school, but it can be a good way to find other people on the same course as you or attending the same uni or college. Similar to Facebook groups, you’ll already have something in common, which makes it so much easier to strike up conversations and make new friends.
Set yourself a summer challenge to talk to a few strangers before you start university or college. Now, we don’t mean the strangers your parents warned you about when you were a child (so no getting into cars with anyone offering you sweets, no matter how much you fancy a pick’n’mix), but more like people in a café or a train station, for example.
It will help it feel less weird when you suddenly start meeting lots of new people and have no courage to strike up a conversation. It can be as easy as ‘I love your outfit, where are your trainers from?’ or ‘What’s your favourite drink here – can you recommend something for me?’. After breaking the ice it’s easy to keep a short conversation going to see if you have things in common and get on well.
So, you’ve made some connections online before you start, and now it’s time to make the jump to making friends in real life. The first few weeks of university or college can be intense, but it’s also a great opportunity to meet lots of people – almost like a friend version of speed dating!
A big tip we have is, wherever you feel comfortable, say yes. This can be to invites to the pub, or library study groups, or the cinema. Getting out of your comfort zone can be hard at first but after that first ‘yes’ it gets easier. And the best part is, if you say something embarrassing, you’ll probably never see that person again if you don’t want to. Here are some ways you can make friends during your first few weeks at uni or college.
Welcome Week or Freshers' Week
Universities and colleges call their first week or so of term Welcome Week or Freshers’ Week. There’s always a great buzz and the perfect opportunity to talk to lots of different people. Don’t forget, everyone else there is new to this too, so there’s no need to feel nervous. Grab a slice of free pizza and make the first move!
At your welcome fair, there will be lots of representatives from the SU and societies you can chat to. Sign up for a few societies that interest you – they can be anything from Quidditch to board games and vegan societies – and you’ll be guaranteed to meet people with similar interests. Just make sure you attend. A lot of people’s regrets at the end of uni is that they didn’t get involved in societies after signing up with the best intentions in Freshers’ Week.
Speak to lots of people on your course
When your lectures and seminars start, you’ll begin to get an idea of the people studying the same course. Numbers can really vary depending on the course, but if you’re on the same course it’s a given that you’ll have similar interests. Striking up friendships with coursemates is a great way to find study buddies for the library, sounding boards for assignments, and a no judgement zone if you find yourself rightfully nerding out about how much you enjoy what you’re studying.
Speak to lots of people in your accommodation
Depending on how your accommodation is set up, you might have flatmates, or a shared common area/kitchen on a floor. Either way, making friends in your accommodation is fun because you can hang out in your pjs and watch films, play video games, and order takeaways – and have no commute home! Most halls will have parties at some point, which is a good way to meet everyone and see who you have a connection with (and if you hate parties, seek out the other people in the corners of the room looking like they’d rather be reading a book!).
Getting a part-time job will not only help give you some extra spending money, but you’ll also meet new people who may be students too.
If it’s your thing, joining a sports team at uni is an excellent way to make new friends – especially team sports. They also do socials to help everyone get to know each other better.
As we mentioned before, societies have a huge range of interests they cater for, and you can join at any time. This is a great way to find your tribe.
Looking to give back to the community and meet new people at the same time? Volunteering is a really worthwhile way to get to know the area you’re living in, outside your student bubble, whilst connecting with other like-minded individuals.