How do you make friends in grad school? I feel like I missed a crucial seminar where everyone else got paired up. I hear about things that happened on the weekend in passing and the middle schooler in me that followed me all the way up to graduate education is so hurt. Part of what I’m worried about is that I’m pretty outspoken, and I look pretty different from a lot of my classmates. I feel like I’m missing out on the camaraderie and networking connections that are half the point of grad school. What should I do? Arrive to class early and try and chat people up?
Thanks for reaching out. I’m sorry that you’re struggling to make friends, but please know you’re not alone. About a year ago we fielded a similar question about struggling with isolation, and studies have shown graduate students are more likely than the general population to experience depression – in part due to a lack of social support.
The fact that you’ve committed yourself to making connections in grad school is a great first step. While chatting with fellow students in class (maybe even forming a study group) can be a great way to make friends, there are on-campus resources that might help you branch out and meet new people:
- Find a club that celebrates diversity: GSEE supports grad students of color, the Q Center brings together students with diverse sexual and gender identities, and the D Center connects students with disabilities.
- The HUB has more than 800 registered student organizations. Connect with others over a common interest – whether it be a shared faith or a love of sailing.
- Attend a meeting of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate.
- Attend a concert or art show, cheer at a sports game or play a game of your own at the HUB.
- If you’re feeling isolated or need additional support, reach out to the UW’s Counseling Center.
Best of luck!
Ask Your Grad School Guide is an advice column for all y’all graduate and professional students. Real questions from real students, answered by real people. If your Guide doesn’t know the answer, the guru will seek out experts all across campus to address the issue. (Please note: Your Guide is not a medical doctor, therapist, lawyer or academic advisor, and all advice offered here is for informational purposes only.) Submit a question for the column →
Published: March 2017 // Updated: February 2019