A Quick Guide to Making Friends in Your First Week on Campus

Some tips for stepping out of your comfort zone.

By Ben Richard August 16, 2022
A Quick Guide to Making Friends in your First Week on Campus

If you’re one of U-M’s 7,000 incoming first-years reading this, you’re probably worried about what to pack for your residence hall, what outfit you’re going to wear for your first day of class, and – most importantly – how you’re going to make friends at a new school/city. Making friends can be scary, especially since you have to take yourself out of your comfort zone. Here are some tips on how to make friends during your first week on campus:

1. Go to first-year events and talk to people

There’s a whole page on the Office of New Student Programs’ website that organizes all the welcome events during Welcome Week into a calendar. Go to any of these events and talk to people there! One of my favorite first-year events was UMix, an event at Ingalls Mall featuring a zip line, snacks, a mechanical riding football, music, glow games, and other activities. It’s a great way to start the year off and a fun way to meet other first-years on campus.

2. Sit next to people in the dining hall or in class!

This one seems the most daunting, but I made so many friends during my first year by going up to them at dinner in the dining hall or right before class, introducing myself, and asking if I could sit with them. Once they say “Yes” (which they always do!), strike up some conversation about the first week of school, then *bam* you have a new friend. At the end, you can ask for their Snapchat username or phone number. Lots of students at U-M exchange social media info after finding a friend, so don’t be afraid to ask!

3. Go to Festifall and join a club/student organization

At U-M, we offer more than 1,600+ organizations for our students to join. No matter what your interests are, you’ll definitely find at least one club to join that suits you. We have a squirrel-feeding club, an anti-squirrel-feeding club, a grilled cheese club, and even a scuba diving club! However, you’re probably wondering where to check out all these clubs. Well, that’s why we have an annual event called Festifall. Festifall is the largest organization fair at the University of Michigan. Organizations go to the Diag and bring a table, sign-up sheet, and a bunch of free items to try to get you to join their club. Overall, Festifall is a great way to find a community on campus to make friends with similar interests. Once you sign up for a club that you’re interested in and attend the introductory meetings, you will make friends in no time through social activities and more.

4. Use your residence hall to your advantage.

All of our residence halls on campus have lounges and common spaces for their residents to eat food in, study, watch movies, etc. While you might not be studying much since it’s only the first week of school, you should hang out in the common areas of your residence hall no matter what. It’s a great way to find people who live in your residence hall and an easy way to make some friends on campus. During my firstn year, a group of people would watch “The Bachelor/Bachelorette” every week in one of the student lounges of South Quad and would invite people to come watch. Events like these are easy ways to be involved within your residence hall community and make friends.

5. Invite people to go explore downtown Ann Arbor with you!

Downtown Ann Arbor is home to over 300 different restaurants, dozens of coffee and boba shops, some indie bookstores, a movie theater, Arboretum, and even a huge alley filled with colorful graffiti (rightly named “Graffiti Alley”) where you can take cute selfies. Downtown Ann Arbor deserves to be explored and is usually on students’ first-week bucket lists. Once you start talking to that guy you sat next to at dinner, invite him to go check out some of what downtown Ann Arbor has to offer. It’ll be a great way for you to experience downtown while making a friend in the process.

Ben and his friend Fatimah exploring downtown Ann Arbor's boba shops during their first year.
Ben and his friend Fatimah exploring downtown Ann Arbor's boba shops during their first year.

All-in-all, there is no right or wrong way to make friends at college. You just have to step out of your comfort zone and keep an open mind to new possibilities. While it may be easier said than done, remind yourself that everyone else is looking for friends as well. Other first-years want to know who you are, so don’t feel awkward going up to people and introducing yourself. It’s all part of the college experience!

Ben Richard

Ben Richard is a senior from Saline, MI studying bassoon performance in the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. He recently finished his degree in biomolecular sciences in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. He is the social chair for the tour guide program on campus and loves giving tours to prospective students and their families. When not on campus, he works at a nearby pediatrics office and enjoys grabbing coffee from Black Diesel Cafe and hanging out with his dog, Max, back at home.