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Making Friends in College

todayFebruary 18, 2022 8

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Making Friends in College

By Hannah Dunbar


Making friends in college can be quite difficult when one is trying to balance school, work life, being a parent and sometimes, even an internship. This is especially true with the ongoing pandemic. When classes went virtual during 2020, it became harder to even make friends at all. As more classes are now in-person, it’s easier to be able to meet new people; however, that does not make it any less of a challenge to make new friends.


After coming out of social distancing and being mostly virtual, it seems that most college students forgot how to socialize with one another. Some students are also already too shy, anxious, or insecure to make friends. Their social skills are underdeveloped.


There are numerous reasons why students have difficulties making friends in college. It can range from personal issues, academic issues, social skills, work, etc. How does one even manage to balance and find the time for a social life when they have a bunch of assignments piled up on their desk?


Then there are the new generation of college students coming in who are unfamiliar with social interaction since they grew up during the pandemic. Not many high school students even had a graduation in the year of 2020 – meaning that they didn’t get to walk for their graduation.


Even college students in the class of 2020 had only remote graduations- there were supposed to be plans to reschedule in-person graduations; however, that did not happen. Many of these students felt “robbed” of their graduation.


As stated by the State of Nevada Department of Education, the statewide graduation rate for the high school Class of 2020 was 82.57 percent, representing a slight decrease of 1.54 percentage points compared to the Class of 2019. For the Class of 2021, it was 81.31 percent, representing a slight decrease of 1.26 percentage points compared to the Class of 2020.


I’ve talked with several students in regard to how they felt about making friends in college and they were more than willing to share their experiences. As a college student myself, I too, know the struggles of trying to make new friends- but I wanted to get more insight on other people’s experiences rather than discussing my own experiences.


CSN Student Leeanna Sueno has been attending college for about a year and a half now. She’s an introvert and explained how difficult it is for her to make friends in college. So far, she managed to make two friends.


“As someone who did not attend college straight after high school, it is difficult for me to maintain relationships. Specifically, being introduced to working before I continued school made me used to more professional-based relationships that did not progress past work interactions,” said Leeanna.


Andrea Vetro, a UNLV student who has been in college for almost four years now shared that she only made one friend and it was right about when the pandemic occurred. Classes were still in-person at that point before they switched to virtual.


The two were friends for about a year and a half until they went their separate ways. With in-person courses coming back to UNLV, Andrea hopes to continue her journey in college of making new friends.


“Making friends in college is very difficult for me because most acquaintances do not exist outside of the classroom setting,” Andrea said.


UNLV student Shoshana Feldman-Sefia has been going to college for about seven years. She considers herself an ambivert. Fortunately, she was able to make 5 to 6 friends this year, but despite that- even she found difficulties with making friends.


Shoshana stated, “I get shy around people at the student union. It’s hard to bring up random conversations to people. You don’t really know if the person will accept you or not. Also seeing masks all around campus makes it really hard to connect with people.”


UNLV student Kevin Kan actually recently started attending college, he started attending in the fall of 2021, so he has 1 semester under his belt. He shared that at first it may seem difficult to make friends, but once you learn what you need to do then it can be achieved. He has made five friends so far this semester.


“Making friends is a skill that anyone can develop and get better at. The secret is knowing that everybody around you deep inside feels just as socially awkward as you do,” said Kevin. He goes on to explain that the best way to do this is to attempt to relieve their social awkwardness. One of the best ways to break the ice is to ask a fellow student what their major is.


Kevin also adds that joining the right clubs and groups are essential since in his opinion, you make friends through shared activities or goals.


Quinnell Jones, a UNLV student who has been attending for 4-5 years now is actually quite the opposite- he’s never really had difficulties making friends per say. He has friends since elementary school all the way up to high school that he still talks to this very day. Quinnell explains though that he did not like the idea of having his original friends take a seat back simply because of the newfound friendships he made during college.


“The word friend is such a serious word to me. It’s so sacred. My friends and best friends truly know me as a person and even they don’t truly know me,” Quinell said.


Every year, more college students are enrolling- it is a constant revolving door that never ceases. For the academic year 2020-2021, there were 31,142 students including 25,864 undergraduate and 5,278 graduate students at UNLV alone.


People go in and out, similarly to how people go in and out of our lives. Colleges are filled with a diverse range of people- whether that is their age or where they’re from. This is another factor that comes into play since most people tend to generally stick with their age group.


It can be difficult to connect with someone who is older than us- they’re at a different point in their life. However, they can also offer advice for younger people as they have more experience. Then those who are older feel disconnected from those younger than them. They don’t know the current trends which can make things a bit awkward.


Language barriers can be another issue, especially for international students from a non-English speaking country. The very act of learning is an issue for them when the language they have to rely upon is unfamiliar. It’s even more difficult when they try talking to someone else who is unfamiliar with their native language- so both parties are having difficulties trying to understand one another.


Of course, there are ways around this- one can use a translator, but translators like google translate are not always entirely accurate. Fortunately, most colleges do have an international resource center that they offer to help these types of students with accommodations- like having a translator. UNLV has the Office of International Students and Scholars that offer these things along with other types of programs.


While it may not be difficult for some people to make friends- the challenge of them actually becoming a friend is still there. As stated by Quinell earlier, you don’t want to seem as if you’re replacing your friends. Conflicting feelings can rise up and this can cause issues later down the line.


Most people fear being rejected, and it seems that plays a huge part in trying to make connections with fellow students. It seems that deep inside, we’re all scared to be the one to make the first move. If you never move forward though then you’ll be stuck at where you’re at.


Even if someone may say that they don’t need friends, really- they do because humans are social creatures, and it is not good for our mental health to isolate for so long. People who spend a lot of time alone have a more increased risk of depression. Socializing has health benefits both physically and mentally. Research has shown that one sure way of improving your mood is to work on building social connections. Social engagement is associated with a stronger immune system.


The best thing about today is that we have social media to stay connected to one another. You can ask fellow students for their social media then get to know them on there. If you don’t use social media, then you can just swap phone numbers and text each other. There are numerous ways to contact other people even without social media.


We all need a support system in one way or another. Even with the challenges of making friends, it is not impossible to do so. Sometimes, the first initial step of trying to befriend someone is just asking how their day is. College is also not easy to get through by yourself and it’s better when you have friends to experience it with.

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