Making New Friends In College Vs. Making New Friends After College


Friendship makes the world go ’round. The world keeps turning once you reach adulthood, but the friendship carousel has a bit of a different spin to it:

A. Hunting Grounds 

College: This really varies based on class year, so consult the literature below:

  • Freshman Year: Making friends as freshman is a lot like those emergency blue light things–no matter where you are on campus, you’ll be able to locate at least one potential friend. It’s always hunting season.
  • Sophomore Year: Via those clubs, frats and srats, and reputation distinguishing organizations you, a flourishing college student, are becoming more involved in.
  • Junior Year: The best move here is to make friends while abroad. This lets your school friends know you’re socially capable of existing without them.
  • Senior Year: Unless they can get you a job, nah

Post-College: Desperately trying to make new  friends post-college is a lot like desperately trying to lock down a significant other–the harder you try, the more frustratedly hopeless you’ll end up.

You’ll likely forge some sort of friendship with similarly-aged co-workers, but there’s always some sort of tricky dance involved here that will prevent you from fully committing yourself. Another solid option is the mutual-friend networking game, but this can oftentimes turn into a dirty, incestuous pre-screened filter pool. I.e., people knowing you through other people generally leads to a certain established “tone” of the friendship, and its often tough to evolve past that predetermined space.

Probably the best way to make new adult friends is through an extracurricular activity–volunteering, sports leagues, etc. You’re already narrowcasting by doing something you’re hopefully interested in, meaning that you’re surrounding yourself with people that have something in common with you. And as we all know, friendship = the ability to have a five-minute conversation with someone else, without either one of you wanting to shoot yourselves.

B. Conversational Fodder

College: Probably something about the notes for that class, done innocently enough to disguise the fact that you/them are really just hoping to piggyback off some sweet notes. Better grades than you deserve = I must hang around with this person = friendship.

Post-College: “Hey, so how about that government shutdown? Oh, you don’t really know much about it either? Good, let’s both pretend like we’re a lot more morally outraged than we really are.”

C. Continued Correspondence

College: You’ll probably cultivate your budding association via “look, were friends”-type social media activities–such as commenting on photos, tweeting at each other, or instagram shout-outs. This is very much a “be seen by the collegiate social circle” tactic, especially pervasive in schools where people care about their social status. So basically, every school.

Post-College: While proving yourself via association with other, cooler people lasts throughout all of life, adult friendship growth doesn’t maintain that same publicity factor college is sometimes predicated on. Because unless the new friend in question has accrued relative societal notoriety (they are the drummer in a band your friends like, they are Floyd Mayweather), nobody really gives a shit that you’ve had a few extended conversations with another human who resides 15-20 minutes away from you.

Since your adult friend has a job, there’s a good chance he or she will take much needed breaks from pervasive twitter and mindless GIF scrolling in order to send you a link to that art exhibit you guys were talking about. It’s in town in 2 weeks. Are you both ready to make that plunge?

D. Friendship-Affirming Activity

College: Getting drunk.

Post-College: A dinner-date of some kind, in which the plan is to only consume 1-3 drinks. If the dinner date goes well, this mandate will be enthusiastically violated. For reference, see Paul Rudd and Fish Tacos.

E. Beef

College: Some dumb, possiblly substance-fueled mistake, that will hopefully ultimately be forgivable–i.e., a silly argument that got real because of an accidental insult, hooking up with someone the other person liked but didn’t necessarily make clear, taking sides in an inter-organizational power struggle.

Post-College: Dropping the oh-so fragile money-lending bomb.

F. Long Term Solidification

College: Opting to make the “roommate plunge,” inviting him or her to visit your hometown, or, of course, engaging in the sort of “friendship bonding” that leads to never again discussed “experimentation.”

Post-College: Nabbing that hallowed wedding party invite. Spending $1000 more dollars than necessary on a bachelor/bachelorette party three time zones away. Something that’s probably not entirely worth it, but also not not worth it. Which at the end of the day, is what friendship is all about.

Well that, and being supportive when they get divorced 7-12 years later. Pessimistic perhaps, but stats show it’s either you or them. And obviously it’s not gonna be you.