How can I make friends in and out of class at uni?
This is the second of three lessons about Making Friends. To complete this course, read each lesson carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.
– Review the challenges of making friends at university
– Offer seven tips for making friends both in and outside of the university classroom
– Encourage the completion of activities to check progress, understanding and academic English ability
While making friends with your flatmates during the first year of a bachelor’s degree is common, students can sometimes struggle to form bonds with their classmates – and making friends beyond your home and major can be even harder. Yet having a variety of friends who themselves belong to varied friendship groups can be invaluable. Expanding your friendship group is important as it provides greater opportunities to make lifelong relationships and increases a student’s exposure to different personalities and interests, broadening their own characteristics.
Having a wider network also means that should things becomes a little less friendly with some (conflict is common at university), there are still others to socialise with. And you never know who may become a valuable connection in the future. With this in mind, Lesson 2 of this short course provides seven tips for making new friends both in and outside of the university classroom that should benefit first-year university students the most.
Tip 1: Sit Next to Someone
When you enter a lecture or seminar room at the start of a semester, it may seem awkward to sit right next to a person when there are so many free seats. But, remember that everyone is relatively new and that the majority of students are also looking to form friendships. Sitting next to someone provides the opportunity to start a conversation, and from here the rest is up to how much effort both parties make.
Tip 2: Offer and Accept Invites
If you find yourself working well with others in a seminar group or have exchanged more than a few words during a lecture, why not invite those people to lunch, dinner, or a post-lesson coffee? Students are often keen to find a reason not to head straight back to their dorm to study (particularly in the first year) and will likely say “yes”. If you’re a little shy yourself, or think you might just prefer to get home to rest or study, do try to make the effort to accept these invites at least some of the time. It’s a sad fact that if you turn down an invite more than once from the same person, they probably won’t ask you again. Because it’s likely that students on your major will have similar interests and aspirations as you and are likely degree-long peers, it would be a good idea to take the opportunity to get to know them.
Tip 3: Setup a Study Group
It may not be the first thing a fun-loving student thinks to do, but setting a time and place that you and your peers meet to discuss the week’s assignments and lectures and seminars or upcoming examinations is not only an important study skill, it can be a very productive step toward making valuable friends. It may transpire that your study group becomes less about the class and more about hanging out – but that’s partly the point. Just try to keep such events open and inclusive, extending invites to any and all who would be happy to join. A class that’s built a good rapport is usually one that enjoys and will benefit from their university environment the most.
Tip 4: Join a club or society
Clubs and socities are such a critical part of the university experience that we’ve built a short course about them. There are likely far more on offer than most students realise, spanning interests and hobbies far beyond sports or movie-esque sororities and fraternities – so you should find something you like. By signing up to something interesting, you’ll undoubtedly come across people who have at least one common interest with you, and likely more.
Tip 5: Spend Time on Campus
While you may think that you’re on campus a lot (perhaps your accommodation is technically on campus), try to also spend time in study spots or quieter social spaces. While these may not be the best place to have drinks or strike up a long chat, they can create the opportunity for a conversation to begin – although you might wish to continue that conversation elsewhere!
Tips 6: Volunteer
Universities tend to offer a variety of unpaid opportunities for students and getting involved with these can be another good way of making friends. Volunteering may help charitable causes on campus or an affiliated off-campus organisation, or it might support university events such as the fresher’s fair in the first week. Whichever programme you sign up to, people that volunteer are often very keen, friendly and compassionate and are open to making new friends. Experiences like these can also help to boost your CV, improving your chances of having successful job or scholarship applications.
Tip 7: Visit Old School Friends
Finally, try looking for friends and acquaintances at other universities as other students are bound to share common interests. One great way of doing this is to visit old school friends who are studying at academic campuses elsewhere. Meet up with your old friends for social events, gigs or house parties a few times and you should soon get to know their friendship groups too. Of course, you’ll have to visit more than once to make these new friendships worthwhile, so perhaps look for a school friend studying at a university relatively close to yours – or put aside a decent amount of money to cover the train and bus fair.
Now that we’ve discussed what a student should do to make friends, continue reading on to our final lesson to discover the six pitfalls that create conflict among new friends – and how to avoid them.
Lesson 1 explores the topic: What are 5 tips for breaking the ice with strangers? Our Lesson 1 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button.
Lesson 2 explores the topic: How can I make friends in and out of class at uni? Our Lesson 2 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button.
Lesson 3 explores the topic: How can I avoid being a poor friend at university? Our Lesson 3 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button.
There are currently no PowerPoint activities, additional teacher resources or audio and video recordings created for this topic. Please come back again next semester.
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