Five ways to make friends at university

Written by Deea Deb

University is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives, and it can feel overwhelming. Sometimes it’s hard to remember you’re not alone and that everyone is going through the same thing. Everybody is just as nervous as you, starting off their university journey. So, the first step to making things a bit easier on yourself is to make some friends. And we are here to help. Here are five ways to make friends at university.

Say hi to the person next to you

Say hello to the people next to you on campus!

Irrespective of where you are on campus, try saying hi to the person next to you. A simple hello can spark up a good conversation. Remember that people around you may also need someone to talk to—just like you.

If you live in on-campus housing, you’ll meet tons of new people the moment you move in. Feel free to say hi to your flatmates or hallmates, they will be just as eager as you to meet someone. Many people I know met their best friends in their halls, so don’t be shy, your new best friend could be right next door to you.

Don’t be scared to talk to people in your tutorials, seminars, and lectures. Having some coursemates are also super beneficial if you need help with coursework. 

Join a Slack/WhatsApp/Discord group with your classmates

For the introverts among us, it can be overwhelming to attend all the social events offered at university. Therefore, it might be worthwhile to explore more low-impact options. Your classmates might create a group chat for the course and usually pass the link around for others to join. It is a good idea to join these groups and get to know your classmates virtually. Ask around to see if any of these group chats exist for your courses and if not you can create one and invite your classmates to join in!

Michelle’s Experience: In my program (Design), we have a Discord server for all the students in my cohort, where we can conduct group projects, ask each other for help and relax after classes with virtual games and parties. The server is also a helpful way for us to connect with our student mentors and upper-year design students. Joining your program’s Discord server (or creating one!) is a great way to network and find support.

Get an on-campus job

One of the best ways to meet new people is to snag an on-campus job. York’s Work/Study Program is a great way to meet new people, learn skills and network with professionals.

To apply, visit the Work/Study job postings website.

Join student clubs or volunteer

York has over 350 student clubs to choose from. Find the one that interests you and join! You will find a ton of like-minded people and it’ll make it easier for you to make friends!

Not only is volunteering a great way to meet people, it also allows you to contribute to the community your university is in, and gain new skills for your resume. Seriously, it’s a win-win. Get in touch with your college to know more about volunteering opportunities!

Attend College Events

Yorkfest Welcome Week is the biggest back to school event! (photo taken before COVID-19)

Every program is associated with a college in York, which is a great way to meet friends. Even if you don’t live in an on-campus residence, you can attend college events to meet like-minded people. This past year, the colleges hosted virtual get-togethers, including speed-painting, academic support workshops, and social nights! Certain events allow students from any college to participate, which lets you meet people from all kinds of programs.

These five ways should get you started in your journey to make friends, but remember that no matter how you decide to get to know people, adjusting to university life shouldn’t mean you need to change who you are to fit in. Don’t rush or panic if you haven’t met your best friends, true friendship is a timely process and doesn’t instantaneously happen in a week. Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone has a different personality and different priorities in life. When you feel lonely, use that time to become better friends with yourself.  

Graphics by Michelle Tieu. Photos courtesy of York University.