Feeling lonely at college as a junior?

So I really thought I’d never share my experience and it’s kind of long but here I am. And I know due to the virus a lot of people are going through rough patches but I just wanted to share my story. So freshman year I became pretty good friends with about five other guys and I basically hung out with them every day. We got dinner, walked to class, joined clubs, etc. And most of us really only hung out with each other, and I was one of them. We basically did everything together and stuck to ourselves because we weren’t huge into parties and things like that. I only made one other true friend freshman year, and I’ll come back to him in a moment. By the end of the year, I started to dislike one of the people in my group but the rest of the guys liked him. So, as you can imply, I started to become less close to the group. I still hung out with them a lot but it started to become awkward.

So sophomore year comes around. I’m living in a dorm again and I’m rooming with the one guy I actually stayed in touch with from the group which I was happy about, and the rest of the group is in an apartment together. And as I expected, the guys in the apartment wanted nothing of me. So now I’m down to two good friends at college (my roommate and the other one I mentioned earlier) and a handful of acquaintances. First semester sophomore year, it really didn’t bother me that much. My roommate and I became friends with a few other guys and we did a lot of stuff together. And whenever I wasn’t with those guys I was busy (I took a lot of credits and I was involved in a lot of other stuff). But then second semester sophomore year it really hit me. My roommate got a girlfriend so he was always busy, and the other guys we became friends with were engineering majors so they always had to study. So basically, I was by myself a lot. I really didn’t know who to go to besides my one other friend, but he lived in an apartment and he was doing stuff a lot. Instead of doing fun things on the weekends, I was sitting in my room watching a movie or something.

Then the coronavirus hit. And I’ve never really admitted this to anyone, but I honestly wasn’t that upset when I heard I wasn’t returning to school after spring break. I didn’t really have too many friends that would miss me or anything. And honestly, I was also kind of hoping that the fall semester would be fully online. But it isn’t for now and I’m back at school. I’m in an apartment with my one friend that I mentioned earlier and two other guys who are super chill, and so far my friend and one of my roommates have been around a lot, so I have people to talk to. But besides that, I just feel very lost right now. I don’t have too many other people here to go to, and I can’t just join clubs and physically get out there like I could do during a normal semester. Everyone else seems to have their friends that they’re still hanging out with (responsibly, I hope, social distancing and what not) and I’m just here, sitting in my apartment and doing work and other things. I’m thinking a lot of things over in my head right now. I’m a pretty good student and I think I’ve prepared myself quite well enough to get a job once I graduate, but I also feel like I should’ve transferred after my freshman year or something once I realized that I didn’t have too many friends here (and it’s probably too late for me to transfer now). I know being lonely as a freshman is quite common and I feel really bad for those who feel that way, but I just feel like not too many upper classmen are lonely. And especially right now, I feel like there’s not too much I can do about it.

Am I overreacting the whole situation? Do any other upper classmen out there have a similar experience as I do? I’m sorry for the long and detailed rant. I’ve just been holding this in for a while and I just need to get it out now. Thank you.

You’re not overreacting.
I hope you’re feeling better and realize you’re not alone in your loneliness. Upperclassmen face struggles as friends get busy even in the best of times.
Freshmen and transfers can be lonely.
It’s hard but there is hope.
The pandemic poses a special challenge for social distance. Could you brainstorm with others in student government or other groups for new activities, intramural sports? some gaming night, trivia night, scavenger hunt, or a paint night or open mic comedy? Meet faculty coffee or dessert, or just on zoom?
Is there campus ministry or clergy to talk to or do volunteer service?
Is there mental health services to check in with? Some offer small group activities like yoga or trail hikes.
Others are lonely and are waiting to meet you. Your friendship and acts of kindness count.

My D had a rough junior year too, you are not alone! Plus, covid really makes it hard to build social connections. That said, I do think there are things you can do. My kids schools (one online, one not) are still having all of their clubs, virtually and social distanced. The beginning of the year is a great time to check out clubs, and they aren’t just for freshmen! You also have a chance to meet people in your classes. It’s true that there are many people out there like you, who would welcome a social invitation. Keep your eye out in your classes, while it’s nice out, you could study outside or just offer to share notes or something. You CAN get out a little…with your mask, outside and with social distancing. Or find a group that is volunteering somehow, that would be a way to meet people too, without having to do the social reach-out yourself.

You are not alone. My son is a sophomore who didn’t connect with his roommate much last year and the main people he hung out with transferred after Covid when the spring semester ended abruptly. He was looking forward to fall to have a fresh start but now so much is cancelled that it makes it tough. Many people already have friend groups so it’s hard to join in when you’re not invited. But he is getting more into his major and joined a study group of guys who all take the same classes so that is helping. Hang in there!

I’m not sure what you expect a big group of friends to do for you this year. You can’t party in a big group or go to sporting events. What did you do with the group of 6 your freshman year? You have a small group of roommates now, so couldn’t you do those same activities with this new group? Play games, cook, listen to music?

You’ve learned you can’t depend on a group to hang together (girlfriends, studying, personality differences). Decide what YOU want to do and then gather a few friends to do it. It may be a neighbor who is also interested in playing Scrabble or your roommate who knows another person who wants to join you to watch sports on TV. Every friend doesn’t have to do every activity with you.

I just wanted to reiterate, things like this happen based on changing situations w friends, and I hope that helps you not to worry. You will find new groups. Agree fully with the suggestions to join clubs etc. You’ll get back to a better social place. And I’ll bet there are many upperclassmen struggling w the pandemic situation—this is such a hard year!