Making friends at university

A group of friends at university
There are lots of opportunities to make friends with fellow students. We’ve listed our key tips for before uni starts, during freshers’ week and beyond to help you settle in.

Everyone is looking to make friends at university, especially during the first few weeks, and there are lots of opportunities for you to do so. If you’re shy or feeling nervous, remember that most people will be friendly and you may just need to push yourself a little at the start to see great results.

The first friends you will make will probably be people in your flat or on your corridor but your friendship groups will most likely change over time. If you can, you should try to make friends at university with people in your accommodation, on your course and at societies. You’ll be spending a lot of time in your accommodation and at your lectures so it’s good if you can have someone to sit by with a cup of tea and during a 9.00 am lecture. And societies are great for meeting people who share your interests.

Things to do to make friends before starting university

  • Join online groups for your university and accommodation on social media. These can be a good way of introducing yourself to your fellow students or even planning things to do in your first week. If you’re shy, communicating online can be much easier than face-to-face and can give you some things to talk about when you eventually meet.
  • Think about what to pack that could help you make friends. Use our checklist of what to take to university, including items that can help you settle in socially. Hint: a doorstop is very useful if you want your room to be welcoming.
  • Decide how you’re going to keep in touch with your family and your old friends from home. For instance, you could arrange a weekly Skype session or a group messenger chat.
  • Make sure you also know what freshers’ events are happening. Know what tickets/wristbands you’ll need for the events you want to go to. Student Unions also host non-alcohol based events or quieter events to meet people so there is something for everyone.

Tips for the day you move in to your student accommodation

  • Decorate your room. This can help make you feel settled and can give you a great space to invite your new friends to hang out in. Make sure to check what you’re allowed to bring to your accommodation as candles and fairy lights are often banned.
  • Offer to help your new flatmates move in. This is a great way to introduce yourself to your flatmates or the people on your corridor and it helps everyone else get settled.
  • Leave your door open. When people walk past you can introduce yourself and this helps create a friendly atmosphere.
  • Hang out in the common room. Don’t wait until the coast is clear to venture out of your room. You can always use the excuse of making a cup of tea if you’re nervous.
  • Speaking of tea… Offer to make your flatmates or the people on your corridor a cup of tea or coffee; small things like this can go a long way when establishing new friendships.
  • Help coordinate freshers’ plans for the first evening. Know what’s going on and ask your housemates or the people you live nearest to if they are going/want to go. This also gives you a great opportunity to venture out and ask the flat next door or people in your block to join the festivities.

Tips for making new friends during freshers’ week

  • Try to organise an outing together. If no one is taking up the role of the planner, do it yourself. Your new flatmates or those in the rooms nearest you will be grateful and you’ll all get to have a fun-packed week. See our university city guides to give you some good ideas of where to explore in your first week.
  • Don’t be the messy housemate. Be considerate of other peoples’ space by cleaning up after yourself (this one is common sense but there’s always one person who forgets).
  • Go to the freshers’ fair and try out a society you’re interested in. There’s a lot of choice, and joining a society is a great way to make new friends with similar interests.
  • If someone invites you to something, make the extra effort to say yes. If you’re shy it can be easy to think of all the reasons not to do something, but you can’t know how good something will be until you try it.
  • Seek advice from other students. See if your university runs a mentor scheme or a university family scheme (where other students are assigned to you as your university parents and siblings) and make use of it. Ask the older students questions about the university and any top tips they may have – they’ve been through it all before.

Tips for making friends with your course mates

  • Make sure you attend your course’s orientation event. The admin event at the start of term for your course is usually ignored during freshers’ week, but it is a great chance to introduce yourself to your course mates. If you’re not feeling confident enough to approach a group of people who are already talking, you could approach someone else who is on their own – they’re probably feeling nervous too.
  • Make use of free periods. Ask your course mates what they are doing in the few hours’ break between your lectures. If they have plans ask if you can join and, if they don’t, ask if they want to do something with you.
  • In your lectures ask to sit next to people. They will almost certainly say yes and it is a great way to start conversations.

Tips for making friends at uni societies

  • Pick societies you’re really interested in. Societies are a great opportunity to expand the number of people you know and have fun at the same time. Pick a society or two that you would genuinely be interested in joining and committing to going to every week and try it out. See which unis are good for which societies.
  • Go to the societies’ social events. Most societies have social events throughout the term and these can be a great place to meet more people. You could always take someone else with you or give yourself a small goal to achieve while you’re there, such as to start conversations with two new people.
  • Consider volunteering. Volunteering can be a great way to make friends and help with community projects at the same time. Your university will have lots of options available, from helping animals to helping your fellow students.

And lastly…

Remember that you have three whole years to settle in and make friends at university. Making friends doesn’t happen overnight but a little effort at the start will go a long way.

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