How to Make New Friends at School

Five Parts:Identifying Potential FriendsFinding FriendsStriking up a FriendshipBeing FriendlyUnderstanding What’s Stopping You

Everyone wants to be appreciated and accepted. Having friends can boost your mood and self-esteem.[1] If you are new to a school or have a tendency to be shy and introverted, making new friends at school could seem like a challenge, but it can be easily overcome.

Part 1
Identifying Potential Friends

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    Explore your passions. Really dive into the things you love to do and do them publicly. See who else shows up and loves the same things you do. Seek out people with the same interests as you and you are likely to get along.[2]
    • Do you love to draw? Register for an art class. Go to art shows. Look for people who are doodling during math class.
    • Do you love books? Join a book club. Go to public readings. Look for people carrying novels around with their text books.
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    Seek out kindness. You may be interested in befriending some of the most popular people in school, but if they are disrespectful to you, this is not a true friend. Finding someone who will treat you well and support you is more important than popularity.
    • You should feel comfortable acting like yourself around them.[3]
    • Being around the other person should make you feel good.[4]
    • You should feel like the other person supports and respects you.[5]
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    Make new friends through your current friends. If you really get along with someone, set up a group event where they invite their friends. Your friend may have already done the work for you regarding finding people with similar interests and personalities.
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    Look at their feet. This totally contradicts the concept of making eye contact, but that comes later. Research shows that groups of people standing in a circle with their feet all pointing to the center are less likely to welcome a new member, but those who have their toes pointing out are more likely to welcome you to join them. It’s just wild enough to give it a try the next time you see groups of people chatting in the hall, at a party, or at a social event.[6]

Part 2
Finding Friends

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    Join a club or organization. You can find a club which matches your interests. If you really want to branch out and find new friends, consider stretching your current experience and trying something entirely new, like an intramural sport. Find out when they meet and attend the next event to inquire about joining.
    • You don’t have to be great at sports to play intramurals. These could be anything from soccer and flag football to frisbee golf and dodgeball. This is a great way to have a good time, get some exercise, and gain a whole new team of friends. Gather a group to make a team or join another team as a free agent.[7]
    • There are several clubs based on hobbies. These could encompass different electives at school, like theater or band. They can also span outside interests like knitting or gaming. Check in with your counseling office or student activities center to see what is available.
    • Academic clubs can bring together business-minded friends. These can include debate teams and different business-related organizations like public relations and entrepreneurs. Check with your instructor and ask them to point you in the right direction.[8]
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    Attend social engagements. Your school provides opportunities for you to gather and mingle with the rest of campus. Take advantage of these activities when they come up. The more often you cross paths with someone, the more likely you are to become friends with them simply due to constantly finding yourself in their company.[9]
    • Attend school dances, movie nights, and mixers.
    • Go see your school’s sports teams play and cheer them on with the group to make an instant bond.
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    Step out of your bubble. You may be completely unaware that you are creating a bubble around yourself. This can make it difficult for others to get to you. Break free from your own restrictions by making a few changes and putting yourself out there.
    • Take a different route to class. Your bubble can be blocking you in if you are always sticking to the same routine. Try taking a new hall to get to class and expose yourself to more people.
    • Sit with new people at lunch. This will give you a chance to engage with an entirely new group of people.
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    Unplug from your devices. Sometimes we are so involved with technology that we are not engaged with the people around us. Your new friends could be right in front of you.
    • Remove your headphones. If you are wearing headphones when you are walking around, no one is likely to engage you in conversation.
    • Put down your phone. While social media can seem like interaction, adding a virtual friend is not the same as a personal friendship. Get some actual face time with other people by simply putting down your phone and interacting with the world around you.[10]

Part 3
Striking up a Friendship

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    Introduce yourself. Make eye contact with the other person, smile and try to seem warm and relaxed instead of nervous or anxious.[11] Talk about whatever is going on around you.[12] Keep your comments positive!
    • If there is music playing, try saying, “I love this song, don’t you?”
    • Choose something off your lunch plate that is tasty and mention how great of a job the cafeteria did today.
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    Introduce yourself to a group of people by joining their conversation. This comes in handy in situations like sitting with a new group at lunch, or being surrounded by others at a sporting event. Interject when you hear something you can comment on, but avoid taking over the conversation. Consider asking a question of the entire group rather than just one person.[13]
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    Compliment the other person. Everyone likes to be appreciated. A great, friendly way to start a conversation is to let someone know that you like their style. Compliment them on a piece of clothing or the way they style their hair.[14]
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    Find common ground. Think of things that a lot of people like and use them as conversation starters. It is also useful to try open-ended questions to learn what interests they may have.
    • Ask about their favorite television shows. You may have one in common which will give you something to talk about.
    • Talk to the them about something that is trending on social media. If you keep seeing something pop up, they probably do too. Ask if they’ve seen it and what they think.
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    Personalize the conversation. Start moving from small talk to really getting to know them on a more personal level. Use open-ended question as opposed to “yes/no” questions. It may help to try using the 5 w’s: who, what, when, where and why.[15]
    • Ask who they know at a party.
    • Ask what books they are reading right now.
    • Ask when they have their lunch break.
    • Ask what they like to do on the weekends.
    • Ask why they decided to take this elective.
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    Exchange contact information. While you can connect with them on social media, it is better to exchange phone numbers in order to connect in person. Offer your number before asking for theirs. Once they have your number, ask them to call or text you so that you have their number.
    • Text them when you want to invite them to do something or are checking in with them to see how they did on their test or if they won a game. Avoid texting too often, especially at the beginning of the friendship.
    • Call them sometimes. Making phone calls is becoming more rare now with texting, which makes a phone call that much more special.[16] Texting is more casual, but a phone call is nice for a special occasion like a birthday, or checking in with them if they have missed several days of school.
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    Extend an invitation. Once you have found some common interests, ask them if they would like to hang out after school sometime. Choose an activity you think you both would enjoy.
    • Ask for a recommendation of a restaurant in the area and see if they want to go for lunch or dinner with you.
    • If you are both into the arts, maybe there is a gallery, museum, play or band you could go see.
    • Invite them to a movie. If there is something you really want to see, ask if they would like to go with you. Plan to spend time together after the movie so you have a chance to talk about it. Coffee shops are a great place to sit and chat about the movie and anything else it made you think of.

Part 4
Being Friendly

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    Smile. Smiling is an open invitation to other people. Respond to eye contact with a smile. We want to be around people who are happy. Simply smiling at someone can draw them to interact with you.[17]
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    Look approachable. Consider the way that you present yourself and whether it may be keeping some people at bay. Your clothing style and your posture can say a lot about whether you are open to meeting people.[18]
    • Pay attention to your body language. Looking down or away, or even crossing your arms and legs can make you appear closed off and deter people from talking to you.
    • Dress friendlier. If you wear a lot of dark clothes or dress particularly goth, you may be able to attract other goth friends. Others may see your dark clothing and make the assumption that you prefer to be left alone. Consider wearing brighter colored clothing. Not only will it make you seem more approachable, but it could actually effect your mood and make you happier.[19]
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    Be the friend that you want to have. Friends should make us feel good. In order to really make a friend, you should be giving the same things that you would like to get. Practicing the golden rule is key to cultivating a compassionate, long-lasting friendship.[20]
    • Be available to them when they need you. Friendship should never be one-sided. Both people should be reaping the benefits. Make sure that you are giving as much to the other person as you are getting from them.[21]
    • Encourage the other person. Let them know that you believe in them and support their achievements in their school work and their life goals.[22]
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    Give them space. Don’t be too clingy or expect too much of their time and attention. Be there for them when they need you and continue to extend invitations, but don’t be offended if they turn you down because they are busy or need some alone time.
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    Take the lead. Other people likely have the same fears about approaching others and making friends. If someone else is new or seems shy, be the one to approach them and start a conversation or show them around.

Part 5
Understanding What’s Stopping You

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    Find time for friends. Some people are too busy to spend quality time with others. Schedule time with other people just like you schedule all of the other things on your to do list. Don’t rely on a last minute invitation. Make plans with in advance and stick to it.[23] This will ensure that you are prioritizing friendship.
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    Overcome your fear of rejection. One of the biggest obstacles to reaching out and making new friends is the fear that we will not be accepted. Try not to take it personally if someone does not accept your invitation. You will not want to be friends with everyone you meet either. Risk stepping out and being social and you will eventually find someone who is the right friend for you.[24]
    • Consider that the other person may be having a hard time right now and is not open to being friendly at the moment.[25]
    • Understand that the rejection may have more to do with who the other person is than it has to do with you.[26]
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    Build up low self-esteem. Low self-esteem often manifests as seeming withdrawn, anti-social and a poor communicator.[27] If you believe that people don’t like you or you are awkward and weird, social situations may seem really scary. Challenge the negative voice inside your head and acknowledge that you may be being too hard on yourself.
    • Other people are just as concerned about themselves as you are. They probably aren’t thinking about you and judging you as much as you think, because they are preoccupied with themselves.[28]
    • Don’t focus on perfection. You don’t have to be perfect, you can just be good enough.[29]
    • Focus on your personal achievements instead of comparing yourself to others.[30]


  • Believe in yourself, smile, have a few laughs together, be a good friend to them. If it doesn't work out, shake it off and keep trying.
  • Realize that you can't make friends with everyone. If the friendship doesn't seem like it's sailing, don't push it. Just let things go naturally. If it doesn't work out, there will be other friends.
  • They are friends if you'll feel safe with them. Also you'll be confident around them. If they're friends, you can trust them and they can trust you. Be sure to create mutual trust, keep their secrets and rely on them to keep your secrets.
  • Be kind and positive and never ever lie to them; it will destroy your friendship.
  • Take it slow because it takes time to strengthen a good friendship.
  • Follow the golden rule "what you do that shouldn't happen to you, you shouldn't do to others.


  • Do not ignore them if you are talking to someone else that you want to become friends with. You can say "one second" and get back to them.
  • Do not spread gossip about them behind their back.
  • Do not give up your old friends if they are nice. Try to keep both. If your old friends have a problem with your new friends, try to work it out to the best of your ability.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Making Friends