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How to make friends at university

Making friends is one of the biggest worries for a lot of freshers, but it's so much easier than you might think (we promise). Here are a whole bunch of ideas you can try.

three women taking selfie in front of a university

Credit: Serg Zastavkin (background), Flamingo Images (foreground) – Shutterstock

Every new student worries about making friends at university – fact. And while it's true that everyone is in the same boat, we also understand that not every boat is exactly the same.

So whether you're living at home or moving away; a big fan of nights out or not interested in drinking at all; we've got tips on how to make friends at uni to suit every student.

These tried and tested methods can be put into practice right away (before you even arrive at uni for some!) and are guaranteed to help you settle into university life with your new pals.

17 ways to make friends at uni

These are the best ways to make friends at university:

how to make friends before getting to uni on image of girl in front of laptop

Credit: astarot – Shutterstock

  1. Join Facebook groups

    Before you arrive at university, the best way to make friends is to check out some Facebook groups for new students.

    It might take a bit of detective work, but there are bound to be groups for your course, halls or university in general. These are a great way of introducing yourself to people before you even get to uni.

    Don't become too much of a Facebook stalker, but comment on relevant posts and message or add people as you see appropriate. At the very least, there'll be some familiar faces at uni when you arrive.

    While you're at it, don't forget to join the Save the Student Facebook group for tips and advice from current and former students. You'll be able to find out everything from the best student bank accounts to the best restaurant deals.

  2. Pack the right things

    You've probably got loads of things on your university packing list, but there are a couple of things you can take which will help you make a few friends when you arrive.

    You should definitely take a doorstop with you. Keeping your door open is super important for meeting and making friends with your new flatmates.

    It's also a good idea to take some games like Twister, or at the very least, a pack of cards for drinking games, as these are great ways of getting everyone together at the start.

    how to make friends in freshers week on fresh meat characters

    Credit: Channel 4

  3. Help your flatmates move in

    To make friends during freshers' week, it's super important to make an effort with your flatmates straight away.

    When you first meet them, it might feel a bit difficult to know where to begin. But offering to help them move their stuff alleviates some of that awkward small talk.

    Having something practical to do will help you both feel more relaxed. Plus, in the process of moving their stuff, you could spot a poster, book, album or something else which reveals an interest that you share.

  4. Keep your door open

    We've mentioned this before, but we're going to say it again since it's so important: Keep. Your. Door. Open.

    It's vital to do this to make friends in university halls.

    People will be way more likely to pop their heads in and say hi if you do. A closed door suggests that you don't want to talk to anyone, or that you haven't even moved in yet.

  5. Make friends at freshers' events

    There'll be LOADS going on during freshers' week, so try to do as much as possible. Just make sure that if you're out at freshers' parties, don't get too drunk. While a bit of Dutch courage can help you break the ice, it's hardly easy to make friends if you can't remember their names (or what they look like) the next day.

    And, don't worry if freshers' nights out aren't your scene. Unis often also organise day trips, guided tours of the city or even trips to IKEA if you're in need of some bedroom essentials.

  6. Hang out in the common room

    Speaking of hiding in your room, we all know that the best way to watch Netflix is in bed, surrounded by your favourite snacks. But, unfortunately, you're not going to make many friends at uni that way.

    Try hanging out in the kitchen, living room or common area instead. It's likely people will constantly be coming and going, so you can chat to anyone who pops in. And, this way, you might find someone to become your Netflix binge buddy.

    how to make friends on your course on study group

    Credit: Jacob Lund – Shutterstock

  7. Go to your course induction

    When you get caught up in the hype of freshers' week, it can be easy to forget that you even have a course to study. But if you get invited to a course induction session (even if it's at 9am), we'd definitely recommend you go.

    Your flatmates might be all you care about right now, but your course is going to become a big part of your life over the next three years. It's important to have friends in this area too.

  8. Organise a study group

    Long hours in the library can get lonely, so why not rally some of your coursemates together to make a study group?

    Ask around in lectures or after seminars to see who would like to join in, then set the time and place. Not only is it sociable, but you're bound to get some tips for your essays and referencing too.

  9. Sit next to people in lectures

    If you turn up to a big scary lecture theatre where you don't know anyone, the easiest thing to do is scurry to a seat in the back row and sit on your phone until the lecture begins.

    But, if you want to make friends on your course, try sitting down next to someone and introducing yourself. You never know, you might hit it off. If you don't, you only have to maintain the conversation for five or 10 minutes until the lecture begins. Easy!

  10. Invite people out for lunch

    After freshers' week, you may be meeting fewer new people, but a great way to keep making new friends is by suggesting lunch trips with people in your class.

    If, at the end of lectures and seminars, you find that everyone is just scuttling back off to their own lives, go out on a limb and ask someone if they want to grab a bite to eat with you.

    People will appreciate you reaching out, and they'll no doubt prefer it to eating by themselves.

    how to make friends outside of your course on people on sofa

    Credit: bbernard – Shutterstock

  11. Join university societies

    Most universities have literally hundreds of societies, so you're bound to find one or two which suit your interests and tastes. And, given that you'll be surrounding yourself with people who share one of your biggest interests, it's one of the best ways to make friends at university.

    Once you've signed up at the freshers' fair, make sure you go along to meetings and events regularly. It can seem like a chore at first when you don't really know anyone but stick at it and you'll soon meet people who'll make you want to go back.

    Plus, getting stuck in with extracurricular activities looks great on your CV.

  12. Introduce yourself to people at university

    This one is particularly useful if you'll be living at home and trying to make friends at university, as you'll have to make the effort to introduce yourself to people when opportunities arise.

    It can seem daunting, but remember that everyone is in the same boat and will be just as keen to make friends as you are.

  13. Go for a society committee position

    Societies are important for all students at university, but for those living at home, they can be a lifeline.

    If you really throw yourself into it, you could end up finding your university family. Show some dedication and go for a committee position at the end of your first year.

    Having a level of responsibility within the society will not only impress future employers, but it'll expose you to loads of new people – and potential new friends!

  14. Stay on campus to study

    Instead of going home to study, why not try working in one of the common areas at uni? The silent area of the library might not be the best place to make friends, but if you can find an area where you're allowed to talk, this would be perfect.

    That way, you'll be able to introduce yourself to people as they come and go, and you could even set up a study group with other students. It's way more fun than studying on your own, anyway.

    how to make friends at uni without drinking on people drinking coffee

    Credit: Jacob Lund – Shutterstock

  15. Find the right societies

    There's a perception that societies involve horrendous initiations and excessive drinking. But in reality, this is only true for a tiny fraction of them. Uni societies are actually a great way to make friends if you don't drink.

    Find societies that appeal to your interests, whether that's watching movies, baking or playing video games, and go along to their events and meetings. Some might involve alcohol, but the majority probably won't, and they're a great way to meet like-minded people.

  16. Ask for a quiet flat in halls

    If you want to move away from home and live in halls, you can enquire with your university about designated 'Quiet Flats'. These are flats for those who aren't really interested in all the drinking and nights out which freshers' week often entails.

    This will give you a great chance of making friends with people who have plenty in common, without feeling pressured to drink or go out.

  17. Organise day trips

    There are loads of great ways to make friends at university that don't involve nights out – you just might need to be a bit more proactive in organising them.

    Do some research into fun (and cheap) activities you can do in the local area and plan a day out with some people from your course or halls. They'll probably appreciate you taking the lead and organising something a bit different.

    For inspiration, check out our list of the best things to do for free.

We share our own experiences and extra tips for making friends at uni in our freshers' week podcast special.

Extra tips for making friends during freshers' week

Now you know how to make friends at uni, here are some extra tips that could help you.

What to do when making friends at uni

These are some quick tips on how to make friends at uni:

  • Compliment people – It feels weird at first, but this is the perfect way to initiate a conversation with someone new.
  • Say YES to everything – Well, not quite everything... but university is all about trying new things and getting out of your comfort zone.
  • Use existing connections – If you already know people at the same uni or in the same city, ask them to introduce you to their friends.
  • Show an interest and listen – Genuinely listen to what people have to say and respond like you care (even if you don't). People will notice and want to keep talking to you.
  • Make multiple friendship groups – Your flatmates aren't the be-all and end-all; it's best to have multiple groups of friends in different areas of uni life.
  • Remember names – We know it's hard when you're meeting so many new people at once. Try repeating it back to them when they introduce themselves e.g. "Oh hi, Callum, nice to meet you" if they've just said their name is Callum.
  • Allow yourself some alone time – While it's super important to make an effort and socialise as much as you can, don't feel guilty if you want to spend some time by yourself now and then to recharge. It'll help you be your best self around others, and could mean you dodge the infamous freshers' flu.

What NOT to do when making friends at uni

Here are some things you definitely shouldn't do during freshers' week if you're trying to make friends:

  • Be messy – Don't give your flatmates a reason to hate you. Coping with shared living can be difficult enough without you adding to the tension.
  • Get too drunk – We've said it once and we'll say it again: stay safe and try not to become a liability for your new friends to look after.
  • Judge people – You're probably going to meet people from a wide range of backgrounds, but don't judge people just because they're different to you.
  • Put too much pressure on friendships – Becoming friends with someone on day one doesn't mean they have to become your BFF. Strong friendships can take time.
  • Become someone you're not – You don't need to change who you are to impress people. They'll appreciate you more for being your authentic self, and you'll struggle to keep the act up for more than a few weeks.

Wondering how to make friends at uni is one of many things to think about as a fresher. Check out these awesome things to do when starting uni.

Jessica Murray

WRITTEN BY Jessica Murray

As an Editor of Save the Student, Jessica Murray has written extensively on student money news and money-saving tips. She was co-host of our podcast, No More Beans, and is now a journalist at the Guardian. Her tips and insights range from fun guides for freshers, to information for graduates entering the workplace.
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