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The Hard Truth About Making Friends in College

When writing this article, I initially wanted to share a seemingly easy list of how to make friends on campus; I wanted to say that you should “reach out to others!” or “join clubs!” and while those are ways one can make friends on campus, I realized that not everyone can benefit from that. Even if I did say that, it is still so hard to make quality friendships during the time we have at college. 

I wanted to recognize the true fact that a lot of college students struggle when it comes to finding and making friends on campus. Social anxiety, worries, introverted tendencies and so much more consume our minds and make it harder and harder to reach out. I also wanted to recognize the fact that some people are not receptive to the kindness and friendliness we give to them. When we encounter a person who isn’t receptive to a possible friendship, it diminishes our self-confidence in making friends. With this, I want to reassure you that you are not alone if you are going through something like this. It is so hard to find your niche and your people in college.

Sometimes I feel hopeless in the sense that I don’t have the magical answer to easily making friends— trust me, I wish I did. But, what I can do is share how I made my friends here at Northeastern, how I am currently trying to create more friendships in my life, and the trials and tribulations I have endured with that. 

Most of my friends that I have now were all made through the NU.in Program here at Northeastern. In my first semester of my freshman year I traveled abroad to Greece knowing approximately no one. When I got to Greece I instantly resorted to latching onto the people in the program. I realized that we all had things in common which were being in a foreign country, not knowing anything, and starting our first semester. If you think about it this way, we were all we had and we all became friends over the shared experience of being abroad.

Back on campus, it was a whole other story. Coming back from Greece to the Boston campus was another culture shock. Getting adjusted back into the “real world” was hard and limited me from making friends because I was so focused on getting acclimated to school and this new way of life. I found myself becoming closed off to my peers around me. I had trouble getting involved and joining campus organizations and truthfully, I was just trying to stay afloat. 

After my first semester back I realized I wanted to make changes. I wanted to do more to make the most of my time here at Northeastern. What I also realized was that no one was going to do it for me. I was the one who needed to advocate for myself in order to find new friends. I won’t lie, it’s exhausting. It was exhausting going to the many club events to attend in order to join. It was exhausting putting myself out there for a club sport tryout— which I didn’t even end up making (which defeats the whole purpose of a club sport) but that’s a story for another time. I guess what I am trying to say is that I understand the struggle of wanting to fit in somewhere and be a part of something new. Most of all, I understand the struggle of trying to make friends and it not particularly working out.

I will say though, joining the clubs on campus (the ones I got in) has been a great leeway to making friends. If you choose to join something you’re passionate about you will be surrounded by people that are just as passionate. With that can come a future friendship. Furthermore, reaching out to the people around me helped as well. Don’t be afraid to speak to the person next to you or knock on a neighbor’s door and introduce yourself. At the end of the day, this is not me telling you to go abroad to go find your friends. This is me saying to take that leap of faith, join the thing you want to join, invite that person to hang out and just do it all! 

Isabella Heilbronn

Northeastern '25

Hi! I’m Isabella! I am a second year student majoring in Communications with a minor in Marketing! I love travel, fashion, lifestyle, music, sports and culture.
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