For some people, studying is a time where they socialise with a wide range of people and have many new experiences. While this can be positive, it can also feel overwhelming. This page covers:
Meeting new people
Being around so many other students creates a great opportunity to meet like-minded people. If you are finding it hard to meet new people, remember many other students will feel the same way. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:
- Volunteering can help you meet people who share an interest with you. Your institution may have students groups or a Students' Union who may be able to help you do this. Alternatively, Do-it.org has lots of helpful information, or Student Minds runs volunteering programmes you might be interested in.
- Clubs or societies can be a great way to get to know people and create a work-life balance. See what's on offer when you enrol or, check in with your student representative, committee or Students' Union at any time.
- Course forums or email groups can keep you connected if you're studying online. Getting to know people online can also make it easier if the course has events like study weekends where you will all meet.
Meeting new people can seem more of a challenge if you feel less like those around you.
- If you have experienced time in care prior to studying, you may feel like you have less in common with your classmates. In addition to the above tips, it can be useful to connect with groups outside of your place of study to help strengthen your support network. For example the Your Prospects peer network events are for care-leavers at all stages of their educational, academic and work lives.
- If you are LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trangender, queer or questioning) then take a look at these Student Minds pages for some advice on starting conversations and what to do if you experience discrimination.
Take a look here as Paul talks about managing the highs and lows of his bipolar disorder during his degree, and how this impacted his relationships with others.
Make plans to see classmates or friends during study breaks to ensure you don’t become isolated or lonely. Also make plans each day to leave the house and get outside. Going for a walk is a useful way of relaxing and clearing your head.
Living with other students
If you have moved away from home, it is likely that at some point you will have to organise your own housing. You may not always feel you have a lot of choice, especially during the first year when university halls are the main option for most students, but you could think about if you want to live:
- with people who you can talk to about your mental health
- with a smaller number of people, perhaps in a smaller house or block of halls
- closer to campus or somewhere with better transport links
- near shops and amenities to make it easier to be sociable
- somewhere quiet with more privacy.
Renting a house or flat for the first time is a big deal, but there is plenty of advice and support out there. Check with your place of study if they provide advice about accommodation, managing landlords and signing contracts. You can also contact Citizens Advice, about student housing.
Lots of students feel lonely. Social media can give the impression that all of your friends are hanging out together and having the best time, all the time. This comparison can make you feel more lonely, and loneliness can have a big impact on your mental health.
- Take social media with a pinch of salt. People usually only post photos of the positive times on social media, giving a false impression of how great things are.
- Consider how you could use social media to have a positive effect on your mental health. Joining online groups such as Elefriends, a supportive online space where you can share experiences and listen to others who have similar mental health issues, can help you feel part of a community. Take a look at the social media accounts of mental health charities such as those mentioned at the end of this guide as many have platforms to network and share experiences in a safe way.
- Try peer support. There might be groups at your institution specifically for students who are experiencing mental health problems. Student Minds run peer support programmes and mental health campaign groups at universities across the UK.
- Many students feel lonely. Even if you are shy, remember your peers are often in the same situation and appreciate you talking to them. Perhaps you could:
- talk to someone, or just say hello, before and after each lecture or class
- meet classmates in the library to plan a joint piece of work
- chat to people you are living with while making food in a shared kitchen.
See our pages on how to cope with loneliness and on social phobia (also known as social anxiety) for more tips.
To hear about how Max confronted his social anxiety whilst at university have a read of his blog. Want to add your story? Find out more about blogging or vlogging for us.
This information was published in September 2018. We will revise it in 2021.