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:
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.