Group of college graduates looking for ideas on making friends after college
By 8 min readCategories: Relationships

Life as a new college graduate is exciting. You have a degree under your belt(finally!), the world at your fingertips, and have embarked on a new adventure. Whether you’ve started a new career, moved cities, or something else entirely, the world is your oyster.

But this exciting chapter in your life can come with the new difficulties of making friends outside of school. That’s why we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of tips to help you navigate friendship after college and ideas to help you make new connections.

Why It Can Be Difficult to Make Friends Post-Graduation

To understand why it can be difficult to make friends once you graduate, it’s important to discuss how college is designed to foster friendships. From the moment you set foot in your first dorm room or your first class, you’re surrounded by people with the same goal — to earn a degree.

There’s an endless supply of potential friends with a wide variety of interests, many of which you’ll share. Because you’re all focused on similar goals, there isn’t much to distract you from forming close-knit friendships.

In contrast, life after college pulls you and your friends in different directions. Even if you still live near one another, you’re each dealing with the demands of a new career and a life without the shared goals that previously brought you together. While staying in touch with your college friends is common, it’s normal to see one another less often making it necessary to form frienships beyond that circle.

The struggle to make friends beyond your college group is impacted by your new and differing schedules, goals, and priorities. You and your colleagues are dealing with career demands, the responsibilities of daily living, and your own families without the happenstance run-ins on campus or in class. After college, making – and keeping- friends takes even more intentional effort. So, let’s talk about how to go about finding new friends.

“What is clear is the absolute necessity of friendships for emotional support.”
– Bumble, commenting on their Censuswide survey

8 Ideas for Making Friends as an Adult

Making new friends after college requires intentionally exposing yourself multiple times to situations where people are likely to share your interests. It takes more than a single interaction to nurture a new friendship. Developing ideas for exactly what these situations look like can require some creativity. So, we’ve put this list together for you.

1. Get to know co-workers

One of the easiest places to start making new friends is your workplace. You already have something in common with everyone at your company – you work at the same place. And an additional advantage of work friends is that they make the day-to-day of your job more enjoyable.

Consider asking a colleague out for lunch or drinks after work. If you’re uncomfortable taking a step like that yet, ask about their weekend or offer to buy them a coffee. A few small gestures can go a long way toward planting the seeds for a future friendship.

If you work remotely, consider joining a coworking space and using these same tips.

2. Join an interest-based group

One of the keys to making new friends, as a child or an adult, is having shared interests. Interest-based organizations, such as adult recreational sporting leagues or language meetups, are great places to look for new friends.

You can find a lot of potential friends when you join book clubs, running clubs, advocacy groups, churches or any other interest-based group. Not unlike college, it’s easy to find clubs and organizations for your particular interests. You may need to look a little harder, but they’re there – and so are some new friends.

3. Be a good neighbor

Another key factor to making sustained friendships? Proximity. In grade school, you may have lived near friends’ houses. You could probably walk to your friends’ dorm or apartment in college.

You have a good chance of staying friends with any neighbors you hit it off with, and a little effort will go a long way. Make it a point to introduce yourself to your neighbors, invite them over for a cup of tea or coffee, or exchange favors like getting one another’s mail or watering plants when one of you goes out of town.

If new people move into your building or neighborhood, you can offer to cook them a meal, invite a small group for game night, or suggest a block party or yard sale for everyone who lives in the area.

Remember, not every friend you make has to be your next best friend. A few friendly faces go a long way toward sustained happiness and a sense of belonging to your community.

4. Volunteer

Volunteering can be a one-time or ongoing commitment, but it has one key ingredient to forming new friendships: it gets you out of your comfort zone. One of the reasons it’s so hard to make friends after college is because you’re no longer in new environments with new people, learning how to do new things. Work opportunities are about as new as it gets after college.

So, push yourself out of your comfort zone for a cause you’re passionate about. You may end up making new friends, especially if this becomes routine for you, and you’ll definitely enjoy feeling a sense of belonging in your new community.

“The world is likely more open than you think it is, and there’s a chance more people out there want to be your friend.”
Marisa G. Franco

5. Take a class

Taking a class puts you in an environment with people who share your interests. Taking a class also fosters some other conditions for friendship, like challenging yourself and meeting others who you otherwise wouldn’t have.

Additionally, it’s a great chance to explore new interests you may not have fostered in your college years. So find a class that interests you —whether it’s yoga, gardening, cooking, or something else entirely—and see who you end up meeting.

6. Capitalize on social networks

One of the best ways to meet new people is to make friends with your friends’ friends. If a friend invites you out with some of their social group, say yes! It might seem awkward at first, especially with a larger group dynamic, however, it could pay off.

There’s already a high probability you have a decent amount in common with them, so enjoy the opportunity to get to know these new people. If you wish your friend would invite you to hang out with their friends, consider asking. The worst that can happen is being told “no”.

7. Use technology to find friends

You may have used Bumble or Tinder to date in college, but have you considered using apps to find friends? Struggling to make friends can feel like a unique problem, but the data tells a different story. 66% of young people surveyed reported meeting friends online through services like Bumble BFF, Bumble’s friend-finding service.

If you’ve used online dating services, the concepts remain the same. Like online dating, you only get out what you put in, so be intentional with your time and efforts when using apps to find friends.

8. Keep in touch with friends from the past

While this isn’t an idea about making new friends, we think it’s important to keep in touch with people from your past. Staying in touch with old friends while making new ones keeps your social life and support system well-rounded.

You may outgrow certain friendships over time, and that’s okay, too. Like your new friendships, old friendships will take effort to maintain, so make sure you put into your friendships what you’d like to receive.

Considerations for Making New Friends

As you put effort into meeting new people, we suggest keeping a few things in mind. First, it’s important to be patient. Making new friends takes time, particularly when working around different schedules and demands. Be consistent, follow up with people, and give it time.

Keep an open mind as you try to make new friends. Be open to trying new things, to new ways of thinking or seeing the world, and to new activities. Stay true to yourself while being willing to expand your horizons for new friends.

Remember that you aren’t meant to be everyone’s cup of tea; everyone isn’t supposed to be yours. You’ll connect with some people but not so much with others. That’s normal, try not to be self-critical.

Finally, know that transitioning from college to post-college life can be difficult, especially regarding friendships. It’s normal to need support from a mental health professional during what is arguably one of the biggest transition periods in a young person’s life.

You Will Make New Friends After College

It can be difficult to make new friends after college. Everyone may be following different paths, and the factors necessary for friendship are rarely present in your everyday interactions.

However, you can seek out situations where the conditions are right for forming new connections. While making friends as an adult is certainly more work, the reward of growing your support system and feeling more connected is worth it.

At Inspire Behavioral Health, we understand that transitioning from college to life after college is difficult for anyone. If you’re looking for support in navigating this transition, our one-on-one counseling and group therapy options are designed to empower you with the tools you need to make more friends. Contact our team today if you’re interested in learning more about what it’s like to work with one of our experienced licensed mental health professionals.

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