illustration of hands holding a clipboard with circled red question mark in center

This can feel difficult. It may sound obvious, but it is a good way to approach someone. This is something that is socially acceptable at college and university.

Asking questions about the current events is another way to pick out something. If they are looking at an event poster, you can ask them, “Hey, anything that looks fun about that event?” Are you thinking about going?

You can ask about shared experiences. You might ask them how they like college.

“Asking follow-up questions can help convey interest. If they talk about a class, you might ask how they are liking it. If they talk about a hobby or sport, you might ask how long you’ve been doing it. What do you think about it?”

It is helpful to listen to what they say without being interrupted or having personal opinions. You can add statements to align with how they feel about it.

I am glad you got into that class, I did some great work learning how to do that. These can be very simple but you should show you are interested in learning more about them.

Feeling lonely at college or university is actually very common. Studies consistently find high levels of loneliness and adjustment difficulties during the first semester of college. This can happen even if people have made multiple social connections or find they’re having fun experiences during that time.

It can be difficult to be away from family and friends at the same time. It can be difficult to get used to being self-sufficient without continuous, in-person support from parents or caregivers.

There are ways to balance studies and social connections.

Try to schedule study time into blocks so you can have social time. Social time might involve a group of people who meet up for a few hours or a few days.

You can combine studying with making friends. You might see if a friend of yours wants to study together. This is a great way to meet people in your study major. Your study buddies may be able to introduce you to others.

Most definitely! Many other students are in the same situation.

“College towns and campuses provide a great place to make friends without alcohol because there are so many social things to do that don’t involve alcohol.”

Some ideas to think about.

  • You can join university organizations related to your interests.
  • “Many of the university-sponsored events don’t serve alcohol or don’t emphasize it”
  • A person is talking in a coffee shop.

If you have met someone you want to keep in touch with, you can propose a specific activity to do together or with a group. Some ideas are possible.

  • Going to a sporting event.
  • There is a play on campus.
  • There are free events on campus.

You can ask for their contact information to plan out the details.

“If you don’t find out something specific, you can ask for their contact information. You can text them with suggestions.”

You can send texts about things they have said to you. How did that test go? What happened to the game? Do you want to study this Thursday?

This is a challenging situation.

First, you are likely not doing something wrong because there is usually a wrong way to go about social interactions. Not making lasting connections could be a problem.

You can speak to counselors who understand common challenges in college if you visit your university counseling center.

Making connections can be about doing things that help your goals along in a balanced way, while doing things that hurt them.

If you want to spend more time with another person, but you never contact them to propose activities, then you are unlikely to reach your goal.

It is better to make a few attempts to propose specific activities while allowing the other person to decline, as this will help create social connections.

“It’s very common for shyness and introversion. The good news is that you don’t have to change your personality.”

There’s evidence that introverts still experience close interpersonal relationships and seek out closeness. Introverts also tend to interact well with other introverts, which is still a significant playing field.

The thing that tends to put people at a disadvantage when meeting others is how disagreeable a person is. Still, this effect is really only pronounced when both people are disagreeable.

Older research suggests that regardless of personality, it’s possible to build up a set of individual behaviors to help foster interpersonal closeness.

It can be a highly subjective term.

In-person social support is one of the most important predictors of positive well-being.

However, research has also found that having online friends can also provide a sense of social support. So it’s actually most helpful to clarify what those relationships mean for you, regardless of whether others think they’re valid and what you want to experience from relationships in your life.

Do these online relationships feel supportive to you or do you prefer to have more in-person social contact?

If you find that you want more in-person interactions and feelings of in-person close friends, then it might be helpful to seek more in-person connections.

Dr. Matt Boland is a licensed clinical psychologist who works with patients and consumers of mental health services in Reno, Nevada. He conducts research on posttraumatic stress and emotional regulation in clinical disorders and teaches courses on related topics.