Loneliness in College and What to Do About It

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Heading to college as a freshman is exciting and new. It can be scary, fun, and inspiring. However, a lot of college students find that they become lonely when they first move into a dorm. This is much more common than you may think.

The loneliness does not have to last forever and there are things you can do to start building new relationships and find things to do and people to do them with. If you are struggling with loneliness, you may also find it helpful to look at the advice offered by therapists at BetterHelp. This can be a great way to get an expert opinion and guidance that may help you see the situation from a new perspective.

You can then combine that advice with some practical strategies, and you may find that you are building new relationships and feeling less lonely before too long. Before looking at some strategies that may be helpful to reduce loneliness in college, it is a good idea to know more about the issue and what can cause it.

Loneliness in College Students

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Students often experience loneliness as well as anxiety and other mental health concerns. Leaving home for the first semester of college is one of the biggest changes in a young person’s life. Up until college, they had lived with parents or guardians their entire life and they were finally on their own.

In fact, studies show that well over 50 percent of all college students and more than two-thirds of female college students have felt lonely recently. Furthermore, there are also very high rates of anxiety and depression.

So why are there such high levels of loneliness, anxiety, and depression in college students?

Causes of Loneliness in College Students

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There are a lot of factors that likely play a role in high rates of loneliness among the college student population. Sure, a college campus typically has plenty of people. From a outside perspective, it may seem that this should be enough to ease the loneliness, but it isn’t as simple as that.

Many people build friendships starting in elementary school that last through high school. Suddenly, as graduation passes and everyone starts beginning the rest of their lives in other locations, a new student may find that they are without any solid friendships at the start of their college experience.

Even when friendships begin at college, they may not be as deep and offer the beneficial interactions that longer-lasting friendships offered during high-school. Friendships take time to grow and most of them are just starting during the first year at college.

Social media can also play a role in the loneliness present among college students. It can make it harder to adjust and, according to some research, may increase the feeling of social isolation. When we look through social media, we also see only the things other people want to portray, which is largely positive. This can make our own life seem inadequate in comparison.

Another factor that can play a part in high levels of loneliness is the reality versus the expectation of what college is. When someone first goes to college, they probably picture it as being a certain way, at least to some extent. The actual experience may be underwhelming in comparison and may not match the feelings that someone had before.

So, there are a lot of factors that can contribute to loneliness in college. Identifying these causes can help someone find strategies that may help to reduce the lonely feelings. What types of things could work to fight the loneliness in college?

You Aren’t Alone

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Knowing that you are not alone in feeling lonely at college can help a lot. When you understand that other students around the country and on your campus are also feeling lonely, it can help you see that not everyone else is having the perfect freshman experience.

This can also help with social anxiety. When you realize that other people want to build new relationships as well, it can make it easier to break free from your shell. Even if it is just to play a game of ping-pong in the lobby of your dorm or go to lunch after class, it is a start.

Make New Friends

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Yes, this sounds obvious, but sometimes college students will be stuck in their old friendships and not strive to start new relationships. Plus, sometimes it can be difficult to make new friends, but it is important to do so to help your loneliness.

It is important to understand that the first friends you make may not be the best friends that you make. Keep meeting new people and you may find a friendship that will last the rest of your life.

A great way to meet friends is to get involved. You can join a club that is based on your interests. Then, you will meet other people who have similar interests and have a conversation starter to build on.

Stay Connected

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So, it is important to meet new friends because your high school friends will not always be around. However, that does not mean you have to completely leave them behind. Staying connected and sharing new experiences can also help with your feelings of loneliness.

You do not want to use your hometown friends as an excuse not to meet new people, but you can still keep them as friends. New friends do not have to replace the relationships that you spent years building.

This also means staying connected with yourself. There is a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. Connecting with yourself can help you gain new perspectives and learn to be comfortable on your own. It can also allow you to see the reasons you need to make new friends and what you seek from these new relationships.

Mindfulness is a great way to reconnect with yourself. You may also want to try feeling okay being on your own without looking at your phone. Take in the surroundings and emotions. Live the experience and be aware of the other people in the room or area.

Seek Help

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Loneliness can correspond with feelings of anxiety and depression. A therapist can help you change your thought processes and learn why you feel the way you do. Most college campuses also have tons of resources to help student’s mental health.

However, you can’t get the help you need unless you reach out. Whether that is through therapy or some other avenue, it may be helpful to improve your wellbeing and help you get free from the loneliness that has been bothering you.


College can be lonely, but it can also be exciting and adventurous. It is important to make some effort to seek out new friends and new experiences. You may have a hard time at first but given time you will find that your new relationships grow stronger. In fact, you may find that they are stronger than the friendships you had before college.