How to Make Friends at University

I think you’ll agree with us when we say it’s REALLY daunting to start a new life at university when you don’t know anyone. It’s a new environment, new tutors, potentially new accommodation and definitely a whole heap of newfound independence.

It’s perfectly normal to feel nervous. In fact, you’d probably be the odd one out if you WEREN’T nervous. But take comfort in the fact that everyone else is in the same position – and they’re keen to make friends too. To make life a bit easier, we’ve broken down three tips for making friends at university. Let’s get started.

1. Connect online before you arrive

This probably isn’t a revelation to you, but there are tons of ways to connect before you actually land at uni. What you might be lacking is a detailed plan. We’ve got you covered here. (You’re welcome.)

Join accommodation groups

Some universities set up social media groups for specific accommodation buildings, which is really handy. We certainly do this at BCU to give you a sense of place before you arrive.

Once your room is confirmed, our Accommodation team will invite you to a Facebook group for your building. If you manage to find out who your roomies are going to be, why not set up a group chat? You could use this to organise group outings to Welcome Week events, find out what essential items people are bringing (who needs two kettles?), or simply just to get to know people throughout the building.

Getting in touch with your flatmates before you move in will help calm any nerves you have about not knowing anyone.

Join the Freshers Facebook Group

Most universities offer this. It’s a group that’s not focused on your accommodation or your course – it’s a group for all new starters across the entire university!

At BCU it’s managed by BCUSU. BCUSU? That stands for Birmingham City University Students’ Union.

Aside from running loads of amazing events and societies, BCUSU manages the most populous BCU Facebook group for new starters. The membership numbers in the thousands every year. So if you want to connect with new starters across the whole of BCU, then this is the best place to be.

Tip: Watch out for fake BCUSU Freshers groups with similar names. These are often not run by students and are simply a means of building up a mailing list to market external products!

Connect with people on your course

This one is pretty important. You’ll feel much better on the first day of your course if you see some familiar faces.

Many courses set up a Facebook page/group specifically for their new starters, which is a great way to meet with students in your year group. Why not be the first to leave a comment to get the ball rolling?

At BCU, you’ll be able to find this in our Welcome Week pages, which we’ll send you a link to after you enrol.

Most courses at BCU run a course-specific Facebook group for each year group, but some might not. If you establish for sure that yours doesn’t, then why not create one?

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2. Put yourself out there and maximise opportunities to meet people

There’s no denying it, the more interactions you have, the more people you’ll meet. Even if you feel like hiding yourself away, force yourself to physically attend stuff outside of your studies (not just online). Our vloggers explain how everyone feels the same about actually speaking to real life!

Welcome Week

Welcome Week (also known at other unis as Freshers Week) is jam-packed full of events and opportunities to mix with people in ways that are designed to be non-awkward.

Apart from the standard fun stuff that you’re probably aware of, there will be icebreakers for your course so that you can get to know the teaching staff and coursemates. If by this point you will have applied the tips offered so far, you won’t be strangers anyway. So maybe the ’designed-to-avoid-awkwardness’ icebreakers will ironically be awkward because you’ll all already know each other… Anyway, you probably won’t know EVERYONE, so it’ll still be worthwhile.


Welcome Week isn’t your only opportunity to meet people. There are loads of regular opportunities to make friends during your time at uni. One of the main ways is volunteering.

At BCU, the best place to start with Student Volunteering Week is to get on board with the BCUSU events taking place across your campus. Volunteer fairs and roadshows at Margaret Street, City South, and City Centre campuses. You can speak to a range of organisations who offer volunteering opportunities and will be taking CVs on the day, so you can apply for positions to boost your employability AND make friends at the same time.

Volunteer roadshows across all campuses will showcase the volunteering opportunities available from BCUSU, so if you want to volunteer but need a starting point, don’t miss these events.

Part-time work at the university

Pretty much every university has a scheme to hire students for paid work on all kinds of things.

At BCU we have opportunities to work across a range of positions. Some are occasional such as becoming an ambassador at open days/applicant taster days. Other jobs are longer term – some of our students work 9 hours a week for most of the academic year. For example, our Marketing and Communications department sometimes hires students with relevant skills spanning from writing and journalism to event management and web development.

And guess what? You’ll meet students from outside of your course and accommodation bubble. Many of our students make friends this way. And the best part is, you actually get PAID for doing it.

Tip: Remember to take on work that you can balance with your studies. And while you’re having fun making friends, make sure to do the job to the best of your ability, as this usually opens the door to more opportunities.


Student unions put together social events, sports, and societies for a wide range of different hobbies and interests.

It goes without saying that these are great for getting to know new people. Why? Because you’re making connections based on shared hobbies and interests. Sure, your course and accommodation are things you have in common with others, and they’re a great way to connect. But connecting with people who share passion is the way you’ll make the strongest bonds.

You can check out the full list of societies currently offered by BCUSU and our students. But if you want a quick summary, then they fall into these broad categories:

  • General interest: Societies include BCU Gaming and Rock Soc.
  • Academic: Societies include Accounting Society and Nursing Society.
  • Faith and Culture: Societies include Afro-Carribean Society and Christian Society.
  • Media and Creative: Societies include Crafty Bitches and Film Society.
  • Active and Performance: Societies include Bollywood Society and Yoga Society.
  • Volunteering: Societies include Student Minds Peer Support and Students Against Poverty.
  • Campaign and Representation: Societies include Earth Society and LGBTQ+ Society.
  • Sport: Societies include Rock Climbing and Cheerleading.

And if you’re thinking: ‘I’d love to join the [insert-name] society but I’m only a noob and I wouldn’t fit in’, then don’t worry! Every society is noob-friendly and they’re seriously stoked by anyone who joins with even a keen interest.

Want to start your own society? Our SU loves supporting new student-led societies. If there's a society that you can't see on offer, you are welcome to apply to create it!

The six types of friends you’ll meet starting at uni

It goes without saying that you’ll encounter all sorts of people when you start uni. Many you’ll connect with, and some people you won’t. But that’s totally normal and nothing to worry about.

Here’s a fun guide showing a few of the types of people that you’ll meet at university:

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3. Become a pro at connecting with people you don’t know

How do you connect with people once you’re actually there?

What’ll really help is feeling comfortable with starting and holding a conversation.

Yes, you’ll have to move out of your comfort zone, but it IS possible to feel comfortable with this, even when you’re shy – IF you use our tried and tested easy-to-remember pointers.

Tip: Actually force yourself to move outside of your comfort zone. By expanding your comfort zone 1% per day, you’ll double your comfort zone every 72 days, and it’ll grow by 3678.3% in a year. If it sounds unbelievable, then go calculate it.

Start a conversation using the F.O.R.N. technique

Don’t worry, we’re not going to give you a list of 30 things you can use to start a conversation. No one can remember long lists like that.

Do you feel like you can remember four letters? Good. Then all you have to remember to be a conversation master is F.O.R.N. Here’s what it stands for…

F is for Family and Friends

Everyone has family and friends. So this is going to score highly as a conversation starter. Here are some examples of the kinds of things you can ask:

  • Do you know anyone here from before you arrived? Me too/neither.
  • Do you have any brothers or sisters? Older or younger?
  • Where did you move from?
  • Where are your friends going to uni?
  • Got any pets?

O is for Occupation

Jobs. Most people have had some kind of job and everyone is going to be looking for a career after their studies.

  • Are you planning to get a part-time job at uni?
  • Have you done any work experience related to your course before?
  • What was the first job you ever had?
  • What’s your dream job after you graduate?

R is for Recreation

Everyone has hobbies and interests, and everyone loves talking about theirs. So find out what they are. Even if your hobbies are different, it’s a great way to start a conversation and find out about people.

  • What’s your favourite thing to do in your spare time?
  • What do you like watching? Got any recommendations of movies or boxsets?
  • Do you like to play or watch sport? Which ones?
  • What kind of music are you into? Have you seen them live?
  • Where was the last place you went on holiday?
  • Have you checked out any of the societies yet?

N is for News

Not necessarily news like on TV. But anything that’s topical and is likely to be a shared experience that you can discuss. The cool thing about the N in F.O.R.N., is that it’s a fluid topic. Even if you’re talking to someone for the twentieth time, the news is always new.

  • Have you heard about [insert-event] that’s happening next week?
  • Who do you think is going to win [insert-sports-tournament]?

Starting at uni is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s a daunting but incredible growth opportunity that you’ll never forget. We really want you to enjoy your time at uni, and we hope to welcome you at BCU this September.

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