If I Can Do It, You Can Too: Tips for Making Friends in College

Today—as a college student, a person with friends, and a person who has struggled with getting to know new people—I would like to give you a few tips that have helped me build community at UW-Madison.

My first tip may be common sense, but it is so helpful: find a smaller community! Finding genuine connections in an unfamiliar environment is daunting. Finding a smaller community—whether it be through your major, a hobby, the arts, your cultural background, or something else—is a great way to make finding friends manageable. In these groups you’re

surrounded by people who you share at least one interest with. This means that conversations start easier, and that the awkwardness of meeting new people people is significantly less.

My ice-breaking tip for talking to someone new is to ask something different. In your initial interactions on campus, it can be tempting to fall into a default set of questions, “Where are you from? What’s your major? Which dorm are you in?…” Not only does this get boring, but it’s not effective! I recommend coming up with some different questions early

on. You can ask about hobbies, music interests, favorite foods, books, etc. This helps you break the repetitiveness, have more genuine interactions, and find common areas of interest.

My last tip is important, but it be tough to accept: cut yourself some slack. I know, you just rolled your eyes, but I mean it. You will meet a lot of different people, most of whom you won’t connect with. Remind yourself that there is more than enough time to find the people you feel the most comfortable with!

GIF #1; GIF #2; GIF #3

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