Ways to Make New Friends in Post-Secondary (French version available)
For new students, the environment of post-secondary and prospect of making friends can be overwhelming: There are so many people! How do I talk to them?
Making friends in post-secondary does not need to be a daunting task. In fact, there are many opportunities to make friends even in the times of COVID-19, where learning is both online and offline.
Tips For Making Friends In-Person
- Participate in Group Work
Some courses will require group work by default, so why not take the opportunity to try and connect with others?
Turn that mandatory participation aspect of a course into something that goes beyond the classroom! People usually exchange contact information for school-related purposes, but interactions do not need to be restricted to those topics.
There is no rule saying that contact with group members needs to be strictly through a school relationship. Feel free to ask your group members if they want to hang out sometime, even if it’s something small like getting a coffee. Even if those interactions do not all result in friendships, there is no harm in reaching out. A friendly gesture can brighten someone’s day.
- Immerse Yourself in the School Community
Immerse yourself in your school’s community by attending school events, participating in clubs, volunteering on campus, or working on campus! These are great ways to constantly meet people in situations outside of the classroom.
In a classroom, some people may be focused on the lecture at hand (or perhaps dozing off, depending on the student) and it can be hard to know the best time for a conversation. Outside of the classroom, school events, clubs, and work provide something that is a conversation starter in itself!
Discuss thoughts about the event that you are at, the club that you are in, or the job that you are working at. Those are already topics that you and the individuals around you will have thoughts on and will likely be willing to talk about.
Tips for Making Friends Virtually
- Make Use of Discussion Boards
If you take an online course, chances are that you will be asked to introduce yourself to both the professor and your classmates on a discussion board. Do not be afraid to describe yourself past your field of study and why you are taking the course.
Listing simple things about yourself, like a hobby or a piece of media that you enjoy, can be used to connect with other students.
Having a shared interest in common also helps with keeping contact for a long period of time. Sometimes you might befriend someone in a course, but once the course has finished, there may not be enough incentive to keep in contact.
A classmate who only discussed course material with you has less incentive to keep in contact than a classmate who discussed your favourite show, among other topics.
- Find Internet Spaces Related to Your Institution
A school’s online platform, like Canvas or Brightspace, is not the only place where students will congregate. There are plenty of other spaces online, affiliated or unaffiliated with your institution, where students can be found. Facebook is ripe with groups for students, as well as Reddit, the latter of which tends to have specific subreddits for post-secondary institutions (r/UBC or r/UofT, for example).
Discord, another messaging platform, has “Discord Student Hubs” for this purpose: to meet other classmates within the same school. It requires users to input their school email address, and they will see a hub that is restricted to those with school-affiliated emails for the same institution.
According to a 2021 article, some students at Ryerson University think that the “Discord Student Hubs” system has helped — their Ryerson Discord hub has served as a support network, as well as connected students to people that they may have never met in-person otherwise.
A Final Important Tip: Talk!
You will always be surrounded by people, virtually or not. Strike up a conversation, compliment a person’s outfit, introduce yourself, or ask something about a course as an icebreaker. If you live in your institution’s residency, get to know your neighbours or other people living on the same floor.
The longer you wait, the harder it will be to establish a connection. Even a simple “hello” is a good step! Present yourself as approachable, let people know that you are open to discussions, and be optimistic. Friendships are things that develop more and more with each interaction.
Keep everything in mind, and good luck! It can be scary at first, but everything gets easier the more you try. If you keep trying, those friends will eventually come.
Leal, L. “The Online Student’s Guide to Making Friends and Finding Peers in the Age of COVID.” Biocord, 25 Aug. 2020, https://medium.com/biocord/the-online-students-guide-to-making-friends-and-finding-peers-in-the-age-of-covid-fb0dc568d6eb. Accessed 11 Feb. 2022.
Madden-Krasnick, Hannah. “Making Friends in Class: The Perks of Just Saying Hi.” Student Services, The University of British Columbia, 3 Aug. 2021, https://students.ubc.ca/ubclife/making-friends-class-perks-just-saying-hi. Accessed 11 Feb. 2022.
Nelly “Discover Your Next Favorite Campus Club in Student Hubs.” Discord, 1 Sept. 2021. https://blog.discord.com/discover-your-next-favorite-campus-club-in-student-hubs-3b5d1c65800f. Accessed 11 Feb. 2022.
O’Connor, Ryan. “Discord Launches Student Hub for Ryerson University.” The Eyeopener, 15 Sept. 2021, https://theeyeopener.com/2021/09/discord-launches-student-hub-for-ryerson-university/. Accessed 11 Feb. 2022.