The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Ask Life: How to cope with college loneliness?

You may be lonely, but you are not alone
You will not be in college for the rest of your life.

Dear Life Section,

I am a WSU sophomore starting the year without a single friend on campus. I tried everything to meet people last year — hanging out with my roommate, talking to classmates, joining clubs — to no avail. I am dreading another lonely year. How can I cope?


Seeking a Friend


Dear Seeking a Friend,

You are not alone in your loneliness. Everyone feels lonely, especially college students who are homesick and, in many cases, hundreds of miles away from home for most of the year. Insecurity and a sense of uncertainty about our futures only exacerbate that loneliness. It is nothing to feel ashamed about.

In a survey the American College Health Association conducted after the fall 2022 semester, 54% of the participating undergraduate students reported being lonely. Despite what you might have seen in movies or heard from loved ones, college can be quite an isolating experience. Not all of us are fortunate enough to meet our people here.

Outside of clubs and classrooms, opportunities to make friends can be few and far between. Moreover, everyone is in their own world, busy with classwork, work-work and a pre-existing social life. For most, making friends is just not a priority, which can leave us friend-seekers feeling left behind.

Firstly, let yourself feel your loneliness. Accept it. Scream-cry it out if you have to. The only thing worse than feeling lonely is refusing to admit it to yourself and subsequently refusing to look for solutions.

The main thing to remember is you will not be in college for the rest of your life. Whether you are going to grad school or not, college is transitional. Your social life does not end here; you will have plenty of opportunities to try again in whichever city you move to after you graduate.

Meanwhile, change your perspective on the current state of your social life. Perhaps before college, you relied too much on others; take advantage of your isolation and rely on yourself more instead.

This can take the form of learning practical skills or even learning to enjoy yourself. Assemble furniture on your own. Take yourself on dates. When you do not have anyone in your immediate vicinity to turn to, learning how to be alone will save you from inaction. Just do not take this to an extreme and stop asking others for help completely.

When you feel particularly lonely, have contingencies. Put on your favorite movie or listen to your favorite music. Order dinner instead of forcing yourself to cook. Comforting yourself is key. My go-to strategy is ordering Domino’s, rewatching “Pride and Prejudice” (2005) for the umpteenth time and letting myself cry at the end; it’s corny, but it works.

When you have missed the optimal friend-making window that is freshman year, it can feel like you have missed out on making friends for the rest of your college career. This is wholly untrue.

Maybe your people just do not live in Pullman, Spokane, the Tri-Cities, Vancouver or Everett. Or maybe you just have yet to meet your people; remember, they are also looking for you.

Either way, make an effort to stay in touch with folks back home. Call or text an old friend and try to catch up with them. Set up a time to stream a movie or play video games together. If they were really your friend, they will be glad to hear from you too.

However, do not force friendships just because you are lonely. If you do make a friend and it does not work out for whatever reason, let it go. Some people are not meant to be close friends, and others are not meant to be friends at all.

You are allowed to mourn friendships the same way most mourn relationships. Having to start over will hurt, but process it and move on the same way you would any other relationship.

In extreme cases, like if your loneliness begins to consume your entire life, seek professional help. You may not be able to talk to a friend, but you can talk to a therapist who will try to help you with your problems just the same.

Counseling and Psychological Services at Cougar Health offers six free therapy sessions to WSU students. I cannot speak for others, but I personally felt better after my visit.

Lastly and most importantly, retain hope. Your people could suddenly and unpredictably come into your life. They could be a student you happen to bump into on campus or a co-worker you have yet to get to know. I know what I said about movies earlier, but miracles like those you see on screen do happen.

But no friendship is possible if you give up on others entirely.

Whether you loved or hated your time in high school, it can be disheartening to go to college only to realize it is not everything you thought it would be. While that may be true, you can still make the most of your college experience regardless.

In the meantime, we wish you the best of luck in your search for companionship.


The Life Section

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About the Contributors
GABRIELLE FELICIANO, Evergreen life editor
Gabrielle is a junior from Chicago majoring in multimedia journalism. She has been a part of the Daily Evergreen since spring 2022. She is passionate about the arts, entertainment and everything in between.
KYRIE ROLLINS, Evergreen illustrator
Kyrie Rollins is a graphic illustrator for the Daily Evergreen. They are in their third year at Washington State University double majoring in Digital Technology & Culture and Fine Arts. They’re born and raised in Pullman and are ready to represent this town!