Photo of a student talking with members of a campus student organization while they all laugh together.

Friendships are an exciting part of college and sometimes making friends as an adult can feel challenging. Whether it’s your first year in college or you’ve transferred from another school, it might feel like you’re starting over from scratch. If you’re feeling isolated or are struggling to cultivate new friendships on campus, you’re not alone.

Here are some tips that can help you make meaningful connections now, throughout college and into the future.

1) Stay in touch

It’s easy to get caught up in the search for new friends and relationships. However, it’s important to stay in touch with your friends or family back home. If you’re struggling, reach out to someone you know and trust to talk through it. Staying connected with the people who already love you can be a good reminder that you have support, and you don’t have to face everything on your own. 

2) Be kind with yourself

Many students may feel pressured to make as many friends as quickly as they can, and that may not always be realistic. Instead, remember that it’s okay if it takes time to build relationships or find the right friend group. Show yourself compassion throughout the process, and know that relationships can take practice to form.

3) Ease your expectations

When looking for friends, it’s common to expect one person to have it all. However, it’s important to keep in mind one person simply can’t meet all of your needs. Instead of hunting for the perfect friend, focus on cultivating a few different relationships that can support you in different ways. For instance, you may have a friend who is great to study with or watch sports with, while another may be better as a confidant. Managing expectations around what people are able to bring to a friendship (or relationship in general) can help you create a more robust social network that you can rely on for different things.

4) Become a regular

While it would be nice to find a tight-knit group of friends, it’s also okay to seek out social activities without all of the added pressure to create deep connections. Sometimes, it’s nice to simply attend an event or hang out with others for an evening before returning to your normal schedule. Thinking about activities and events this way can also help alleviate the pressure that comes with trying to make friends as quickly as possible. 

Looking for ways to become a regular? Explore a variety of CU events and activities.

5) Don’t underestimate the power of small talk

There are plenty of reasons to not like small talk. While it can feel uncomfortable or awkward (especially if you’re on the shyer side or don’t know someone that well), it can also provide a number of benefits in forming friendships. In fact, small talk plays a significant role in paving the way for more meaningful connections.

Whether we’re talking to a casual acquaintance or someone new, small talk can help us build up to more meaningful conversations and connections. For instance, asking someone about their weekend plans may help inform us about their hobbies or interests. These insights can be helpful in moving the conversation forward. Take advantage of these moments to bond over common interests or learn more about someone by asking follow-up questions. 

Small talk can also be beneficial for those of us who may feel out of practice. In many ways, it’s the perfect opportunity to practice conversation skills. Most people expect small talk to be awkward or challenging, so it’s the perfect time to test out subjects, questions and other strategies to get to know someone without the pressure of a formal conversation.

6) Try new approaches

There is no one way to make friends, and that’s okay. Trying out different approaches to meet people can help you find what works best for you. Here are a few ideas to try:

Group activities

While it can be nice to get to get to know people individually, group activities can be a great alternative. For example, inviting someone to a group chat may feel less intimidating than directly asking for their number. Additionally, socializing in small groups can help reduce the pressure to engage with someone one-on-one.

Everyday conversations

Practice conversation skills during everyday interactions. This can help you feel more comfortable making conversation (and keeping the conversation going). For instance, it may be helpful to practice with a cashier or customer service representative. Ask them questions about their day and allow yourself to briefly connect.  


It can be tempting to give details about ourselves or explain a story in-depth. However, it’s also important to know that getting into nitty-gritty details can be overwhelming for some people. When disclosing things about yourself, do so skillfully by keeping your level of disclosure close to that of the other person. This can help relieve nervousness about how much you should be sharing.

Social apps

Apps can be a great tool to help you talk and get to know people in a low-pressure setting. Bumble BFF can help you find platonic connections, whether you’re looking for a workout buddy, roommate or new best friend. Patook allows you to make platonic connections with people nearby who share common interests (no flirting allowed). Finally, MeetUp is a free service that organizes online groups that host in-person events for people based on location, hobbies, causes and more. They also allow you to start groups of your own!

Connect with other Buffs and resources

There are a number of resources available at CU Boulder that can help you feel more connected, whether you’re looking to join a student group, attend social events and activities or find additional support. 

Student groups

There are a number of student groups on campus that can connect you with people who have similar majors, interests and hobbies. Here are just a few...

Student organizations

You can explore student organizations, leadership opportunities and upcoming events through BuffConnect.

Club sports

If you’re interested in competing in intercollegiate sports, Sport Clubs are a great way to get involved. CU has over 30 teams for mens, womens and co-ed sports. 

Peer mentor programs

There are a number of peer mentor programs through colleges, schools and programs at CU Boulder. These programs are designed to help students connect and support each other during their time at CU. You can also meet with a Peer Wellness Coach for more generalized support. 

Living experiences

If you live on campus, there are a number of ways to get involved in your residence hall, including Res Hall events, leadership programs and living experiences

Collegiate Recovery Community

If you’re currently in recovery, interested in recovery or are a recovery ally, the Collegiate Recovery Community is a great place to get connected with others through free meetings, events and activities.

Greek life

CU Boulder has a vibrant fraternity and sorority community with 29 active chapters. 

Social events and activities

If you’re looking to meet new people, make friends or just hang out for a few hours, campus events and activities are a great way to get connected. Here are a few options to check out...

Rec Center

The Rec Center offers a variety of free events and programs in addition to student trips, classes and workshops for all ability levels.

Health Promotion

Health Promotion offers weekly wellness programs to help students connect, practice self-care and work toward their wellness goals.

Student Affairs events

Student Affairs hosts hundreds of free events on campus throughout the semester!


If you’re looking for a way to get involved in a specific cause or give back to the community, the Volunteer Resource Center has a number of opportunities open to students. 

Center of Student Involvement

CSI offers a variety of events, activities and social groups for students, including trivia and craft nights, book clubs, bowling and more.

Support services

If you or someone you know is struggling to connect on campus or feeling isolated, there are support services available to help. Here are a few options for finding support...

Counseling & Psychiatric Services (CAPS)

CAPS offers a number of mental health and support services for students, including drop-in appointments, therapy groups, workshops and consultations through Let’s Talk.

Health Promotion

If you are struggling with finding a community, navigating campus life or need support, Peer Wellness Coaching is a great free peer-to-peer option.

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS)

ISSS is available to help international students through mentor programs, events, activities and community. 

Center for Inclusion and Social Change (CISC)

CISC supports all students in the exploration of their identities and creates a welcoming and inclusive space on campus that provides academic and personal growth. You can also connect with them through the Pride Office.