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One of the hardest things about graduating from college is leaving your friends.
Now that you’re out in the world, you’re less likely to be surrounded by people your own age who share your interests. It’s going to take some new approaches to find some great new friends.
So in this article, we’ll talk about 7 specific ways you can make friends after you leave college.
Why Make Friends after College?
College friendships are wonderful, but few of those friendships will last a lifetime. People move, get different jobs and start families. Priorities change. One by one those college friends begin to drift away.
If you want great friends for the years to come, you have to seek out new ones.
Fortunately, you don’t have to sit around and just hope to meet people that you click with.
There are ways to put yourself in places where friendships blossom, even if you’ve moved and you find yourself in a new city. So let’s dive in and talk about the specific strategies you can use to meet new people and (hopefully) make lifelong friends.
1. Pursue a Hobby
You’re most likely to make friends with people who share your interests. If you already have an activity you love, from sports to reading to art, join a group or club that pursues your passions. Alternatively, take up a totally new pastime, something you’ve never tried before.
There are groups that meet for sports like softball, basketball and tennis. They’re excellent hobbies. Science suggests that vigorous activity make you happier.
There’s not only the joy of competition and shared activity. The key friendship moments come when you take a break, and your shared interest in the game gives you a ready-made topic to break the ice.
There are walking clubs and reading clubs. Cycling clubs and dining clubs. Folks who get together to play board games. I’ve even heard of a floating clubs, where people show up with innertubes and rafts and enjoy the water together.
Some people get together in groups to do arts and crafts. Artists and crafters are always enthusiastic to meet a person who already enjoys the avocation or a newcomer who’s willing to learn.
Even hobbies that seem solitary can provide opportunities for networking. For example, you may think of gardening as something you do by your lonesome, but there clubs, garden tours and online forums where you’ll have a chance to form friendships around this hobby.
It'’s one of the top ways how to make friends after college: pick an activity, either familiar or unfamiliar. Here are a few hundred to choose from. Do a little online research and show up where they go.
You’ll have the first step in friendship covered: you’ll have something in common to talk about.
If you’re wondering how to make friends after college and you want to meet good people who are worth getting to know, you can hardly do better than to volunteer.
Organizations such as zoos, museums and historical society need docents. Not only will you have the volunteer staff as potential friends, but every day people will come walking in with an interest in what you have to tell them.
Animal shelters and thrift shops are always looking for help. You can strike up a conversation with the person who’s next to you as you’re stocking shelves or working a cash register.
Libraries need volunteers to lead discussion groups, work with families and organize materials.
Many localities have park clean-up events where you and others spear trash and share your vision on what this park might be.
Don’t forget about community involvement. It’s common for towns and cities to form citizen advisory groups to help them set the direction for things like parks and community planning. Community youth and adult sports leagues need organizers and coaches.
If politics is your passion, there are few places you’ll find more people who share your outlook on life than in your preferred political party.
Don’t know where to start? There are volunteer matching organizations that will suggest ways to plug in wherever you happen to live.
3. Take Some Classes
Sure, you just got out of college, and you may be in no hurry to sit at a desk any time soon, but there are plenty of ways to join other people in learning, and not all of them involve an academic environment.
There are health and fitness classes in everything from yoga to cycle spinning to martial arts. Some of them are held in a gym, but there a plenty of opportunities to pursue pastimes such a yoga in the great outdoors.
Arts and crafts is another great area. Have you ever wanted to learn to sketch, to stain glass or to train bonsai? If you take some interest and show some enthusiasm, people will be eager to impart what they know, learn about you and tell you about themselves.
Conversational foreign languages. Cooking classes. Photography. That computer software you’ve been meaning to master. Woodworking. Candle making. Beekeeping. Windsurfing.
For just about anything you want to learn, there’s someone, somewhere who teaches it. And there are people like you looking to not only learn the same skills but also meet potential friends.
And don’t rule out academic classes. It’s a lot different when you don’t have to sweat a grade but are sitting with people who are there because they’re interested in the topic. Maybe it’s time to cycle back to that subject that was just too far from your major for you to have time for.
Finally, do you have a skill you could share with others? Maybe you can be a teacher! Your local community education may be able to get you started. Plug in not only with your students but also with other instructors and the folks who run the programs.
4. Join a Spiritual Organization
Why didn’t I just say, “Join a church or synagogue?” Well, not everyone practices a religion, but most people have an underlying curiosity about the meaning of life.
In addition to traditional religious organizations, there are philosophy clubs, meditation centers and even atheists’ clubs. These places are set up for people to engage with one another on more than a superficial level.
If you are a person of faith, or if you’re interested in who they are and what they think, you’ll find that some of the most satisfying and longest lasting friendships arise in churches.
There’s nothing like the social support offered by religious organizations. They provide one of the best ways how to make friends after college when you no longer have the framework of campus life.
If you’re intimidated by churches, or you don’t want to hear their religious talk, you might consider aligning with their volunteer efforts. Many of these organizations sponsor groups that feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and advocate for the poor, and you don’t have to buy in to their beliefs to participate.
I’d throw in just one word of caution here: don’t attempt to fake it. Be up front about who you are. If you’re a believer, great, but if you’re not, be open minded but don’t pretend. It’s too much work being someone other than yourself.
5. Use an App
This is the 21st century. So much of what we do emanates from our phones. People use them to meet to love of their life, or at least the love of their next few weeks, and there’s no reason not to use them to find potential friends. Here are some lists with a few apps you might check out.
If you’re new to a neighborhood, Nextdoor is a great way to plug into your community and get to know people who might be your future great friends. There’ll be posts about who lost a dog and why there were two police cars outside the convenience store last night, but it doesn’t stop there.
I’ve seen Nextdoor posts from folks who want to start serious discussions about community issues or trends in larger society. Also posts recruiting for clubs and hobbies. Because it’s local and people can be identified, there’s more courtesy and less flaming than you’ll find on Facebook and Twitter.
If you’re a dog owner, you might try BarkHappy, which helps you arrange doggie dates with nearby canines and their best friends.
There’s Friender, a non-romantic swiping app where you choose from 130 activities and get a list of nearby people who share interests with you.
There’s Facebook Groups, where you can join discussions or choose to actually meet.
And of course there's Meetup, where groups are required to get together in person to pursue a hobby, interest or goal. With millions of Meetup users and hundreds of thousands of groups, there’s an excellent chance that some of your great new friends are waiting there. And you don’t have to call around and organize it; all you need ot do is show up!
6. Meet Your Friends’ Friends
If you’re friends with Pat, and Pat is friends with Terry, then there’s a good chance you and Terry are going to hit it off as well. After all, you’ve both been approved by Pat.
It’s a variation on your grandmother’s saying that the best way to reliably meet people is to be properly introduced.
You can wait until you and Terry happen to cross each other’s paths, or you can ask Pat to bring you together. You’ve probably heard Pat mention some things that Terry’s interested in.
The next time you and Pat plan to do something along these lines, pipe up and say, “Hey, Terry might like this too. Should we invite them?”
Or you can take the more direct approach and say to Pat, “Terry seems like someone I might have a lot in common with. Maybe the three of us should get together some time.”
It may not always hold that the friend of your friend is also your own friend, but it’s true often enough to be worth pursuing.
7. Be Active in Your Alumni Club
If you live in a big city, or in a town close to your old school, there’s probably a local chapter you can plug into. Alumni clubs participate in all sorts of activities, such a promoting the college, meeting with high school seniors who are heading there as freshmen, and just getting together at a bar to watch their favorite football team.
They’re always looking for people to make phone calls, organize events and do the things that bring potential friends into contact.
Even if there isn’t a local chapter, there are still ways to stay involved. For example, there’s online work in running alumni fund drives or organizing reunions.
You may have graduated from college, but you don’t have to move on from the spirit and camaraderie. The old school ties form a great basis for how to make friends after college.
Final Thoughts on Making New Friends after College
It’s really fairly straightforward. If you want to know how to make friends after college, get out there and meet a lot of people. Seek out clubs, activities and organizations where other people share your interests.
You don’t have to be an extroverted dynamo or the person who always takes charge. Just be yourself, take an interest in people and follow a few basic practices on being a good friend. Your future best friends are out there, just waiting to get to know you. Try a few of these ideas and take that first step to meeting new people.
And if you're looking for additional ways to make friends, here is a list of 47 places to meet new people.