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How to Make Friends in College When You're Shy

by Lucie Westminster, studioD

Attending college is one of the most exciting events of your life and opens up a world of new possibilities. The social aspects can be difficult if you are a shy person and aren't sure how to go about meeting new friends in your residence hall and classes. Because an unfamiliar environment such as college can exacerbate a your feelings of shyness, it's important that you combat this with full force, rather than letting it deter you from meeting others. With a few simple steps, you can make college friends that will last a lifetime.

Head to your college's student union, grab a cup of coffee and observe others interacting and talking. According to Dr. Bill Knaus, writing for "Psychology Today," watching people interact with others provides examples of appropriate social interaction you can mimic when you are ready to make your own friends.

Visualize walking up to another student and introducing yourself. Think about what you might ask: Name? Major? Living on or off campus? Practicing in your mind gives you the confidence needed when you have the same conversation with a real person on your next visit to the student union.

Head to the gym and exercise. Not only may you meet others who share your love of fitness, according to Mayo Clinic, exercise reduces anxiety and improves mood partly due to the release of endorphins. Therefore, your run on the treadmill will likely curtail your negative feeling of shyness in the first place. After a good workout, your happier state will improve your chances of making friends.

Volunteer with a service organization sponsored by your college. Consider joining a volunteer group that puts on campus events, builds homes or cleans up parks in your community. Spending time with other college students places you in an environment conducive to making friends with those who share your passion. In addition, having an activity to complete as you get to know others reduces the amount of talking required if you are nervous about striking up conversation with people you don't know yet. With time, this will get easier and hopefully lead to a core group of friends.

Invite a few people from one of your classes to your apartment or dorm to study. In addition to giving you a little added security in the comfort of your own space, a small group allows you to get to know classmates who, in time, will become your friends.


  • Don't feel the need to make a large group of friends. Each person is different and may prefer only a few close friends.
  • Speak to your Student Activities Director or Resident Assistance for additional social opportunities on your campus.

About the Author

Based in Texas, Lucie Westminster has been a writer and researcher since 1975. Her work has been published in journals such as "Psychological Reports" and "Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior." Westminster's interests include developmental psychology, children, pets and crafting. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Miami University.

Photo Credits

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