How To Make Friends In College When You Live Off-Campus, Because Meeting People Away From The Dorms Can Be Hard

I know that making friends can seem terrifying, and if you’re going off to school in the fall and you aren't going to be staying in one of the dorms, you may be wondering how to make friends in college when you live off-campus. Living in the dorms may not always be the most desirable option — living side-by-side with another person in a teeny tiny room definitely has its downsides — but it does offer you a whole floor of people to make friends with, even if you and your roommate don't get along. Off-campus students, on the other hand, are going to have to try a bit harder to find some new pals.

I know this from personal experience. I went to college 300 miles away from home, and lived off-campus. Luckily, a few people from my hometown were going to the same school as me, but finding other friends was difficult at first. With so many new things to worry about — navigating your new environment, your coursework, and living largely on your own — making friends can seem trivial. But believe me, your first years of college will be a lot easier if you have a good support system around you. Yeah, it might suck for a while trying to find people to hang out with, and you might feel a little awkward basically asking perfect strangers to like you, but it’ll be worth it. If you’re skipping the dorms for more independent living, here are a few ways you can still form some solid friendships.

1. Get a part-time job

Working a part-time job in college has a number of benefits, but one of them is the ability to make some non-school friends. This is especially true if you’re working in an industry or area that employs a lot of people your own age. Shifts can be long and boring sometimes, so it’s always nice to have a buddy to joke around with.

2. Join an on-campus club

If you’re not living on campus, you’re going to want to have at least one on-campus activity that isn’t just going to class. I joined my college’s newspaper as a sophomore, and it was one of the best decisions of my life. Not only did I get clips and experience that eventually helped me find freelance writing jobs, but it also helped me build a core group of friends. Remember that the people in your chosen club are there because they like at least one of the same things as you — at least you'll have something to talk about.

3. Use social media to your advantage

You're on social media all the time anyway — you might as well make good use of your time. Start a Facebook group for your class, so you can all share notes and be able to chat about the lecture and beyond. Gather a few of your friendlier classmates' Twitter or Instagram handles (you can break the ice by complimenting a photo you see them post), and give them yours. It’s a no-pressure friendship reach, but you might find out you have a few people in your classes you can relate with.

4. Go to the gym

Exercise is important, and the gym is a good place to make a friend or two, even if you aren't a fitness enthusiast. You don’t have to join a gym-gym, but taking a class or two at a yoga studio or doing a spin class a couple times a month can be a great place to find friends. And you get a workout in the process!

5. Attend group events

Whether you are on campus or off, going to events with a lot of people can help you in your friend search. Go to a school-organized concert or theme park trip, and don’t be afraid to get chatty. I know it can be terrifying to go to things alone, but if you put in the effort, you won’t be alone for long. And if school sanctioned activities aren't your style, you could always hit up a house party or two. Everyone's a friend at a party!

6. Start volunteering

If you’re not finding friends at your job, you could try volunteering. Log some hours at your place of worship, an animal shelter, or do a beach clean-up to be around other charity-minded people. This is a good way to ease into a friendship, since you don’t have to make too big of a commitment, and you'll be around others who have similar interests.

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