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Where to meet fellow grad students

1) Dear Alice,

I am 24 and just started a part time Masters' program. My last relationship was two years ago and I find it pretty difficult at my age to meet respectable guys. I enjoy the bar scene with friends, but don't find that it's very easy to meet good people there.

Anyway, do you have any suggestions as to where to meet decent men at my school and in my age group?

Signed,
Cupid's Missed Target

2) Alice,

As an incoming grad student, I have a rather obvious question, which is something troubling lots of people here, I'm sure. Since we rarely have any academic contacts outside our own departments, where on campus are the best places and/or methods to meet women? It is a little too pretentious to just start talking to them out of nowhere....

Signed,
Anxious for an answer

Dear Cupid's Missed Target and Anxious for an answer,

You two are likely not alone in seeking friends, possible dates, and other meaningful connections. How and where to find a new friend or romantic partner depends a great deal on your own personal style and taste. Before you embark on this process, though, consider your answers to these questions: What activities do you enjoy? How did you meet people during your undergraduate program? Where would you feel most comfortable approaching someone new? Sometimes meeting someone, organizing an activity, inviting people to a dinner party, or asking someone to be a study partner takes courage. Other students you see may feel the same way you do, even if it seems otherwise. However, there comes a point where someone is going to have to take initiative and make the first move—so why not consider giving it a try?

Here are a few ideas for taking the initiative to meet new folks on or around your campus:

  • Is there a graduate student lounge or study area? If so, you could spend some time there studying, reading, and socializing. Chatting with your fellow students may lead to closer relationships down the line if you find that the two of you have a lot in common!
  • Your grad program or school may have a social media page or group specifically for students. If so, you might check those out for opportunities to meet new folks. Perhaps there is a student organization focused on a social issue you care about or an upcoming campus event that seems fun. You could also use social media pages to organize some happenings yourself if nothing piques your interest.
  • Try browsing local restaurants, coffee shops, gyms, and stores. Find a place where you can sit near others and strike up discussions with "strangers" of any gender. Though this approach may feel more daunting than meeting people at school, you may find that a shared interest has brought you and others to the same location!
  • Do you like a certain sports team? Love knitting? Do you spend your free time gaming? Consider joining or starting a student group on campus about something that interests you because, chances are, others are into it as well.
  • Similarly, you could check out websites designed to provide opportunities to connect people who have similar interests living in the same area and beyond campus. You might find a group about something you love and if not, consider starting your own!
  • You could also strike up a conversation with a fellow student after class or when you bump into them elsewhere. For example, you might say something like: "Hey, I really liked your comment in class today. I'm (your name)." Most likely, people will offer their name, too, and be flattered that you took the time to acknowledge their input.

While it can be nerve-wracking and exhausting to try and meet new people, consider the expression "nothing ventured, nothing gained." The more that you continue to make yourself socially available, the more likely it is that others will want to get to know you. Not every person you meet will be your next friend or romantic partner, but every interaction that you have will make you a little bit more prepared for future relationships. For more ideas about how to meet people, and what to do once you've met that special someone, check out Go Ask Alice! Relationships archive. 

Here's hoping you meet that special (romantic or platonic) someone!

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Last updated Jan 20, 2023
Originally published Feb 01, 1994