Making Friends In College

Three college students sitting around a table with their laps laughing and smile as they making friends

Making friends in college with your fellow classmate, sounds like a no-brainer, right? But in reality, most of the time students show up to class, listen to the lecture, and then leave. Life for a student is very busy, especially if you are taking a full semester load, working, have extracurricular activities, or have a family. For a lot of students, creating friendships isn’t a priority, showing up and passing the class is.

We can agree that there are huge benefits to having friendships. Friends are essential for our mental, physical, and social well-being. Most of us already have friends established, we’re not actively looking for more. However, when you are in college those friends may not be able to be there for college-related matters, especially those that concern specific classes. You need a college friend who is a good study partner. Someone who you can share information with, cheer each other on, or get over academic hurdles together.

Studies show that students have a higher success rate in classes if they work together. Forming study groups with peers leads to better grades and study habits. Having a bit of moral support is great motivation to do better in a class.

Be sure to read, How Students Can Create The Motivation For Success.

Choosing A Good Study Partner

All students need to study. Whether you are simply doing homework or studying for an algebra test, history midterm, or a biology final, you will spend countless hours studying. It can be lonely and sometimes unproductive learning all by yourself. It’s not necessary to go at it alone. There is strength in numbers, this applies academically as well. Having structure and the accountability of a study partner is very beneficial.

When I was in college, I wasn’t looking for friends to just hang with. I wanted to find effective study partners and classmates who I could team up with to get through the class. We could offer each other mutual support, and work together on assignments, projects, quizzes, and tests. We could remember due dates, proofread assignments, share flashcards, and take notes if one of us couldn’t make it to class.

Be Friendly To Everyone

I was friendly to everyone, and if anyone needed help or had questions, I always made myself available. But I was very deliberate when it came to making friends. I didn’t go out of my way to create friendships with just any classmates. Through talking to my classmates, I could identify if they were going to prioritize their classes. If someone wasn’t interested in showing up to class and getting a good grade, I had no desire to connect with them. I was attentive in class, I was there to learn and pass my class, and I wanted someone who held that same view.

I noted those who paid attention, who asked questions, contributed to the class conversation, took notes, weren’t texting through the entire class, didn’t look like they were hungover from parting the previous night, and didn’t smell like weed. Sometimes I would stay a few minutes after the class ended if I had a question for the professor and I would note those that also stayed to ask questions. Once I identified them, I introduced myself.

Making Friends In College Is Easy, Don’t Be Afraid To Start A Conversation

I’m not going to ramble on about all the things you can do to start a friendship. It’s not rocket science. Once you’ve identified a good study partner introduce yourself. Don’t be embarrassed or uncomfortable, they want to succeed and get through the class just as you. Be upfront and say you were hoping you could exchange contact information with the intention of being study partners. Some may not be interested, but I have found that most are. If you’ve identified them correctly, a good student who wants to do well in the class is looking for a study partner also.

Most of my friendships in class happened very naturally. I would show up to my classes 10 to 15 minutes early and I would talk to those that were also there early. Some of the best conversation starters were, what did you think of the homework? Did you do the assigned reading? What is your major and concentration? These conversations allowed me to evaluate whether they would be good study partners and friendly people that I will get along with. Then if we both felt comfortable, we would exchange phone numbers and emails.

gray sidewalk with the words, "say hello to others" stenciled in white. making friends is as simple as saying hello

Stay Connected

That’s all there is to it. Once I got their information after class I would follow up with a text, “this is so and so from whatever class. If you need anything let me know. I’ll see you, next class.” That was all that was needed. From there on out we’d usually say hi or acknowledge each other before or after class. Sometimes we would move closer to sit by each other. Other times we wouldn’t really reach out until there was an assignment, quiz, project, or exam. If it was a particularly hard class, I often texted my study partner or study group weekly about homework and assignments. If our schedule allowed it, sometimes we would meet in person, or we’d just work together over the phone.

One of my study partners worked better over video calls. Throughout the semester I got to know his wife and the names of his children. They would run by and say hello. I remember one memorable night when his family was at the dinner table eating spaghetti, we studied and discussed the project due simply because it was the only time he could fit it in. It worked for us and that’s all that mattered.

Making Friends And Creating An Effective Study Group Or Partner

If not done right, studying with a friend or a group can be more distracting than it is helpful. You are not there to hang out. There are a few tips I’d like to share with you. If you have a group don’t make it bigger than 5 members. When you meet, stay on track. It’s okay to talk about life for the first few minutes, but quickly move on as everyone’s time is valuable. Review work, and notes, and address questions and problems. Always maintain accountability. Keep things positive and productive. Everyone in the group should be counting on each other. You are working toward a common goal, therefore, stay focused. I very rarely spent time outside of class, aside from studying, with my partner or study group.

Once you get into your major you may see the same students. I would plan ahead each semester with my study partners to see what classes they were taking and compare them with my schedule. If we were in the same class, we already knew we would study together or partner up for group assignments if we had the opportunity. If we didn’t have the same classes, I would ask if they knew anyone that would be taking the classes that I was enrolled in. Often, they would share the name of the friend they knew in the class. It was very easy to introduce myself to a friend of a friend and this would become my new study partner.

Making new friends with fellow students isn’t always easy but I encourage you to put yourself out there. The benefits are enormous. Some friendships will last for years, I have college friends, both undergrad and graduate that I still keep in contact with.