Ask Ainsley, Student Life

Ask Ainsley: How can I make friends in my lectures?

Dear Ainsley,

I don’t have any of my friends this semester in my classes, and I am wondering how to go about making friends in class. I am a bit shy and don’t want to sit alone for the entire semester. Do you have any suggestions?


Scared of Loneliness (SL)

Dear SL,

This is a common concern among both incoming and seasoned McGill students, but there are numerous ways to make friends and connections quickly.

Making friends can be convenient when you are in need of academic support: You can study together, swap notes, and master course material together. Oftentimes, the relationships you develop within your major’s core courses will carry over to your future classes, making it easy to maintain them.

While making friends may seem daunting in big lecture halls, meeting new people doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Being active in group activities and developing a close group of studymates can make your lectures feel smaller. Further, while it might seem negligible, choosing to sit nearby other students who are sitting alone can aid your search for friends. Likely, they also will be in search of people to speak with and might be more open to engaging in small talk.

Once you find your preferred seat, don’t feel pressure to chat with your neighbours on the first day if you feel uncomfortable—many students will continue to sit in the same vicinity as the class progresses. As you become more familiar with your surroundings, feel free to reach out to the people around you with an icebreaker. An easy way to start is to ask your neighbors questions about the lecture material, or how useful they have found the textbook to be. Over time, it will be easier to engage in small talk before the class, and eventually exchange contact information to study course content together.

You can also connect with your classmates via Facebook groups. Most large lectures have pages dedicated to discussing course content and creating study groups. It’s easy and advisable to visit the class page and suggest a gathering to review, especially if you are more comfortable making the first move behind the screen than in-person. As the course continues, study groups will solidify and allow for better opportunities to get to know each other individually. Over time, study buddies can easily become close friends. Chatting about the subject outside of class gives more leeway to detour into personal interest topics and to get to know each other. Plus, you can fill awkward silences by going back to studying the course content.

Once the course ends it can be easy to lose touch with your newfound class friends. Do your best to maintain those friendships by getting together regularly. Perhaps you can try to synchronize your class schedules for the next semester, so that your study group members can stay together.

Undoubtedly, it can be hard to make friends in class, but remember that many students share your worries and are just as nervous as you. Good luck in the new semester and with your new friendships!

With love,


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