You move into your dorm at college and get into the college experience by going to Welcome Week events with your floor. Once the excitement of move-in ends and classes begin, it hits you that you are on your own and it can get lonely at times. Experiencing loneliness in college is normal. You may be tempted to go home on the weekends, but resist the urge. The feeling of being alone will subside once you meet new people and find a community of support at college. Here are some other strategies that you can use to combat feelings of loneliness.
1. Create a Home Away From Home
When you move into your dorm room, make it your own. This is your new living space, but it is important that it feels like a home away from home. Be sure to bring your favorite blanket, photos of your family and other mementos that will create a warm and comfortable environment. If you work with your roommate on personalizing your space, you will have an instant opportunity to bond and get to know one another.
2. Get Involved
Join a campus organization or three and you will have an instant group of potential friends. It may seem uncomfortable to go to a first meeting, especially if you don’t know anyone but you’ll be surprised about how happy the group will be to meet you. Getting involved on campus will help fill your time, introduce you to new people and provide a way to become a part of the campus community.
3. Find a Support Network
It may seem like a daunting task, but making new friends is a surefire way to combat loneliness. Remember, everyone else is trying to find a friend group. Start by keeping your dorm room door open when you are home. You’ll be surprised at how inviting that will be to other people looking for friends. Ask someone on your floor to get lunch with you in the dining hall. Or, if you see someone sitting alone at dinner, you can ask to join them.
4. Enjoy Campus Life
Take advantage of the wide variety of activities available on your campus. Your student fees pay for movies, concerts, dances and other fun things to do at night and on the weekends. Rather than spending time alone, get out and enjoy a fun event. If your student union has a game room, go bowling or play pool. If you love to plan and organize, get involved in the student events team that handles the behind-the-scenes logistics of student activities.
5. Find a Mentor
A mentor can help alleviate feelings of isolation and serve as a sounding board when you hit a bump in the road. Faculty and staff work in a college environment because they have a passion to help students grow and develop. Schedule meetings with your college professors to ask questions about course work and introduce yourself. You are likely to find someone that will take an interest in you.
6. Plan a Routine
When you’re lonely, it can be hard to figure out what to do with your time. Try filling out a detailed schedule for the week. Start with your classes and schedule in fun and relaxation. Commit to following the schedule. A daily routine will keep you stay focused on your role as a student and get you out of your room. If you stay engaged in your college experience, you’ll have less time to feel lonely.
7. Take Fitness Classes
Don’t underestimate the power of exercise as a way to stay energized and upbeat. Visit the gym and look for a weight-lifting partner. Ask someone from your floor to go for a walk or a run. Even if you exercise by yourself, you’ll be surprised by the natural feeling of well-being that will be infused into your daily routine.
8. Keep a Journal
Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal or notebook. Sometimes just letting out your frustrations can serve as a natural form of self-therapy. Re-read what you shared as a way to sort through what you are experiencing. You’ll be able to develop a coping strategy, if you are more in tune with what’s going on.
9. Set Personal and Academic Goals
Don’t let loneliness paralyze your productivity. Write down personal and academic goals with specific due dates and strategies for success. Work on goals to become more socially connected. You can combat loneliness simply by having something to drive you forward toward success.
10. Visit the Counseling Center
If you’ve tried everything to instill happiness and social connections into your college experience and continue to feel a sense of despair, make an appointment at the college counseling center. Sharing your feelings with a trained professional will help you put things in perspective and provide a strategy for improvement.
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.