How To Feel Less Lonely When I Have No Friends In College

Updated February 6, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Out of your entire educational career, the move to college can often be the hardest in terms of socializing. We leave behind many of our old friends and are placed into a new, foreign setting where we must start all over again. For many, freshman year can be an isolating experience that leaves them confused about what they should be doing to start anew.

Are You Lonely At College?

However, what you may have overlooked is that almost everyone around you is in the same situation—you're not the only person looking to make a friend! Most people entering college (whether as a freshmen or transfer student) are looking to make new friends. Although it can be scary, all you have to do is put yourself in a position to meet other students to make a friend. Talking to a new group can be intimidating but meeting one friend is easy. With that said, getting out there can be the most difficult part of the process. If this is where you need assistance, read below for some tips on how to find new friends at college.

I Have No Friends At College—How Do I Feel Less Lonely?

Socializing at college doesn't have to be hard, and once you gain traction, it becomes much easier to meet people. To get you started, here are a few ways you can get out and meet others easily. Once you make one friend, another may be just around the corner.

Join A Club

One fun thing about college is that there are a lot of social, scholastic, sports, and other clubs. In fact, there are so many that almost everyone can find something they are interested in. Think of things you are passionate about and use that as a cool way to connect with other people, knowing that you won't be the only person with that interest. Additionally, if you want to meet new people, getting involved and going out to campus events is a good bet. Whether it's a club, party, or networking event, you can put yourself out there to find people with similar interests. Show people the real you and you're bound to make a friend soon enough. Don't wait until conditions are perfect, or you might miss a good opportunity. 

Once you’ve joined a club or organization, look around the room and pick a person to introduce yourself to. Volunteer to be a leader or contribute your time by helping run events and attend planned activities. This will help get you out and interacting with students who have similar interests. When you attend events, make time to meet and speak with as many people as you can. Post event, you can invite someone to walk home with you or grab a snack. Take a chance on building friendships, and you may even make a friend for life.

Keep In Touch With Friends And Family From Home

Transitioning from high school to college is tough, so it's important to have a support system in place when you start to get lonely, and your hometown is a great place to start. Maintaining friendships can be beneficial, and sometimes necessary for your mental health. Make established relationships a priority by scheduling regular phone or Skype time with your parents and old best friends. This way, you can keep socializing while you work on making friends in your new area.

Plan Visits In Advance

Another way to make it through the school year when you are feeling lonely is by planning visits and holidays in advance. This way, you know exactly when you will see the people you love, which will give you something to look forward to. You can also plan for friends and family to visit you at school. If you moved away for college, showing your family and old friends around your new neighborhood could be a lot of fun.

Work On Your Social Skills

If you get nervous or shy when talking to new people, that’s something to work on so you can improve your ability to socialize. Maybe you aren't making friends in college because you're misinterpreting people's behavior or sending the wrong signals. Working on your social skills involves pinpointing problem areas—like speaking too quickly when you get nervous, having poor posture, or feeling self-conscious when meeting people—and working to improve them. 

How To Cope With Being Alone (Or Feeling Lonely)

The tips above will help you meet new people, but you still may need help dealing with that lonely feeling while you are adjusting to your new life. Here are some ways you can cope with being alone and feeling isolated.

  1. Learn How To Be Alone

There are some people who are more scared than others of being alone, as we often view being alone as a negative. However, having alone time is something that is vital to our health and well-being. We all need time with ourselves, and we don't need to be with people every hour of every day. Learning how to be alone is a valuable skill that will carry you through this initial rough patch.

  1. Use Your Loneliness As An Opportunity

Rather than letting your loneliness control you, try turning it into an opportunity to get out there and connect with others. After all, the feeling of loneliness is likely telling you that you need interaction. Framing it as a need like hunger or tiredness can change the way you look at and react to it.

  1. Be Out Around People

You may not make friends everywhere, but you don't necessarily need to. Sometimes, simply being around people can make you feel less lonely. If you don't already, try getting out more in public and doing things on your own, even if it's just eating lunch in the cafeteria. This can mean going to a coffee shop, a public park, or even a sporting event on your own. You might be surprised when you pick up a friend or two along the way! Being around people and offering thoughtful conversation can be a great way to make a friend. Try pointing out something cool you see around you or offering someone a compliment. There's no wrong way to try to make friends with a person.

  1. Make Meaningful Connections

At first, you may be tempted to go out and meet as many people as possible to avoid feelings of loneliness. It can help, however, to try to develop more significant relationships with just one friend or a small group of peers, as opposed to more superficial relationships with a large number of people. (This is not to say that you should try to limit your network of friends—simply that meaningful relationships can often feel more nourishing). Again, when you are doing things you’re passionate about, you’re bound to meet like-minded people with whom you can form a connection.

  1. Getting The Support You Need

Being lonely for a long time can have negative effects on your mental health. If you are feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed in any sense, it is perfectly okay to reach out to a counselor for help. Students are under a lot of pressure, and having someone to talk to who can help put things into perspective can be a big help. 

Are You Lonely At College?

BetterHelp Can Help

Research shows that online therapy is a valuable resource for people dealing with difficult emotions, such as those related to loneliness or isolation. In a study published in Behavior Therapy—a peer-reviewed academic journal—researchers examined the effectiveness of online therapy in reducing feelings of loneliness. The study begins by pointing out the issues that can be associated with loneliness, including mental and physical health conditions. Participants took part in a cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) program, which is a widely accepted method of treatment that works by helping individuals understand and replace intrusive thoughts that can cause unwanted emotions, such as loneliness.  

If it is difficult for you to find a local counselor or you are uncomfortable doing so, with BetterHelp, you can participate in therapy from the comfort and convenience of your apartment, dorm, or wherever you can get an internet connection. You won’t have to worry about potentially running into people you know post therapy or discussing your treatment with others. And you can easily create or change your appointments by either logging on to or the BetterHelp app, so that you can attend therapy on your schedule. The mental health professionals at BetterHelp have helped thousands of students work through complicated emotions. 

Moving Forward

College is a time of self-exploration and growth as you work on building your new life. If you feel like you're alone in your experience, use the tips listed above to reach out to others and begin creating your new social circle! With the right tools, making new friends is within reach. Take the first step today.

For additional help & support with your concerns

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started