9 Ways to Make Friends in Grad School

Making friends as an adult can be hard.  Especially when you are in grad school and everyone in your cohort is in a different stage of life.  It’s so easy to isolate yourself or think that you can be independent in grad school.

I actually believe that becoming friends and bonding with your grad school cohort is essential if you want your grad school experience to actually be enjoyable and not soul sucking.

That brings me back to the issue of making friends in grad school.  I’ve talked with a lot of people who are in grad school including the grad students in my Facebook group, The Academic Society for Grad Students, about making friends in grad school.  Many of them tell me that they haven’t been able to bond with their fellow grad students or that the rest of their program doesn’t like them or excludes them from study groups and social events.

If you’ve ever felt isolated or excluded in grad school, this post is for you.  I’m sharing my 9 tips for making friends in grad school.

How to Make Friends in Grad School

Having friends in grad school can be so beneficial and can help you have a better experience in grad school.  If you had friends in grad school, you could study together, ask for advice, and have an understanding shoulder to cry on.

My suggestion is to not try to start or jump in a study group right away.  Try bonding with your fellow grad students socially first. Then it will be much easier to work together.  But how do you do that?

I’m glad you asked! Here are my suggestions and actual things I did to make friends in grad school.

9 ways to make friends in grad school, grad school tips, grad school advice, the academic society

Invite a classmate to a workout class.  

If you enjoy exercise, this could be a great way to make a friend.  When I was in grad school, my (now) friend, Veny, invited me and our other friend Kaitlyn to go to a Zumba class.  We had never hung out with Veny before. But we said yes. And that eventually led to us going to other exercise classes and becoming best friends!  We were inseparable in grad school and the chair of our department started calling us the Three Amigos.

Host a potluck.  

Potlucks are the way grad students party.  Gone are the days of clubbing and house parties.  As a grad student, all you want is free food and to go to bed at a reasonable hour.  So a potluck is the perfect social event to do that! Plus this can be a great way to learn about your classmates’ diverse cultures. Below is a picture of my potluck crew.

how to make friends in grad school

Host a game night.  

In my last couple years in grad school, my department would always have game nights every Friday.  We would mostly play this werewolf game and it was a lot of fun. Game nights are a fun way to get to know people very quickly.

Go to a concert.  

If you live in a town where there are concerts, you should invite some of your fellow grad students to listen to some music with you.  When I was in grad school, the Backstreet Boys came to Tuscaloosa. Me and my two besties all grew up listening to Backstreet Boys so we were sooooo excited to be able to see them in concert.  It was such a great night and a great way to bond! We still talk about that concert 5 years later!

how to make friends in grad school

Try a new restaurant.  

Something I really miss about living in Tuscaloosa, AL is the food!  Me and my friends would always try new restaurants together. You can invite a classmate or two to lunch with you to try out the cuisine in your new town.

Celebrate birthdays.  

The first outing I went on with my cohort was to celebrate Kaitlyn’s birthday.  Her birthday is in September. We had started school about a month before and I hadn’t spent any time outside of class with anyone in my program.  So when I was invited to Kaitlyn’s birthday lunch, I quickly accepted and got to know some of the other people in the department. We even took a picture commemorate the day (you can see how fresh faced and young we were below).  My suggestion is to find out when someone’s birthday is and have a lunch in their honor. Or, invite people to celebrate your birthday!

how to make friends in grad school

Movie night.  

I love a good movie night.  You can invite a few people over for a girl’s night and watch a rom-com, superhero movie, or whatever you’re into.  I actually invited a few of the girls from my department over for a movie night in our first semester. We made cookies and mozzarella sticks and just talked the whole night.  We never even picked out a movie to watch!

Go to football games.  

If you are in grad school, you are probably at a big state school where football is a big deal.  I went to the University of Alabama...so yeah, it was a BFD. Me and my cohort would go to the games together, suffer in the heat, and laugh at the ridiculous, over-passionate undergrads.  It was a great bonding experience for us all! Roll Tide!

how to make friends in grad school

Join an online community.  

As I mentioned before, I host a Facebook group for grad students.  In that group, I help with accountability, time management, and productivity.  So if you are interested in being a part of that group, click here to request to join and I’ll accept you!

Those are my suggestions for making friends and bonding with your grad school cohort.  I suggest to start socially. Once you get to know each other socially and become friends, you’ll be someone your classmates think of when they want to study with a group or work together on assignments.  You can have fun together and kick butt together in grad school together!