feeling lonely at university
feeling lonely at university

How To Cope With Feeling Lonely At University

91% of the students we asked said that they had felt lonely at university at some point.

While university is a super exciting time, for many people such a big life change can also be very isolating and lonely if things don’t go exactly how you planned in your head. If you don’t automatically click with your flatmates, don’t have friends to sit with in lectures, or are struggling to find a place you fit in, you’re definitely not alone.

We asked our followers on Instagram if they’ve ever felt lonely while at uni and 91% (311 out of 342 students) agreed that they had experienced loneliness at some point.

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Why do so many students feel lonely at university?

With so many people saying that they’d experienced loneliness during their time at university, the biggest question would be why do so many students feel lonely and what times are the hardest for them.

Some of our Instagram followers shared their experiences with us of when they felt the most lonely at uni:

“When first moving in”

“During deadlines and exam season”

“When I tried to repeat a year but didn’t know anyone”

“The first few months of the first year”

“At lectures, I have no one to sit with or talk to”

“All of first year was online, didn’t get on with my flat and spent every day in my room by myself”

“At Christmas”

“During days I wasn’t in uni and didn’t live with my friends in halls”

“Summer holidays while doing my postgrad”

“Living in halls”

“All the time, I feel too far away from home and now I want to quit”

“When I realised I don’t actually have many friends, not a core group that I can go out with”

Our most common response was “all of the time” and lots of students referenced the impact of COVID and online learning on their studies at the start of university.

From the overwhelming amount of responses we received, it’s clear that if you’re feeling lonely while in uni you’re definitely not the only one. After all, you are moving to a new place, away from home and your family and you probably won’t know anyone, you can’t be expected to feel excited and happy all the time!

lonely at university - girl sat on chair staring outside of window

How do students combat their loneliness?

We then went on to ask our followers what they did to help them feel less lonely or to get them out of their rooms on their bad days.

If you’re struggling with loneliness right now, here are some of the things our followers did when they were feeling especially lonely to help them feel a bit better:

“Went and sat in the communal areas”

“Got to know my coursemates”

“Frequently spoke to my personal tutor, joined a running group and went home on weekends”

“Contacted the uni wellbeing team”

“Concentrated on my studies, my goals and what I wanted to achieve”

“Went out of my comfort zone and started to talk to people at events”

“Started conversations with people before and after lectures”

“I played a lot of Sims 4”

“I went to a bunch of societies and got more involved in socials and events to make friends”

“Organised my deadlines so I’m not doing it all at once”

“Went to the gym and drowned out my feelings with loud music”

Feeling lonely can often lead to isolating yourself in your room, which although might not seem like it at the time, isn’t the best idea. Most of the responses followed the same advice, if you’re feeling lonely it’s best to surround yourself with other people, even if you’re not actually talking to them. Getting up and studying in the library rather than at home, going to the gym, or talking to a personal tutor or counsellor can all help to improve your mood and make you feel a bit less alone.

Remember, keeping yourself to yourself during your lonely days probably won’t help and if you’re struggling it’s best to talk to someone else, whether you’re talking about your feelings or just having a general chat.

students in room on computers - feeling lonely at university

What advice do students have for other students?

Finally, we asked our followers if they had any advice for other students who were in the same boat. So, if you’re struggling right now here’s the advice you might need from people who have been through the same thing:

“Go home if you need to, uni is important but so is your mental health”

“Go to as many events and say yes to as many things as you can”

“Call someone from home or make yourself busy with something”

“Make the effort to go into uni and leave your room, even if you’re writing essays, go to a public area like the library”

“You aren’t alone! Uni isn’t all it’s hyped up to be”

“Join a society and speak to people as this is the best way to put yourself out there”

“Talk to people about how you feel, you’re probably not the only one and you can help each other”

“One day you will be surrounded by lots of friends, until then achieve your dreams”

“Befriend loneliness, be your own best friend”

“Go outside, go for a walk or run, study or chill in a cafe just don’t sit in your room all day”

“Send funny memes to friends at home”

“Don’t hide away but know your boundaries, be yourself and reach out to other people you know and join clubs and societies”

“Although daunting don’t be afraid to be the first person to say hi”

“Try and enjoy the little things you’ve always enjoyed”

“Keep active if you can, just don’t give up”

While our followers shared some great advice on things that have worked for them, the reality is that everyone copes with their feelings differently and it’s not always that easy. While some people might feel inspired to put themselves out there to join societies and make new friends, others who are less outgoing may feel naturally more inclined to shy away and isolate themselves.

If you are experiencing loneliness at uni, you’re not alone and there are people you can speak to to share your feelings with. Whether this is regularly meeting with or speaking to family and friends at home or a professional.

If you are struggling, check your university wellness team and see what resources are available to you or contact your GP to see what mental health services are available in your area.

Mental health websites and helplines

  • Student Space from Student Minds – phone, text messaging and email support for students suffering from mental health problems or concerns about uni
  • Samaritans – call 116 123 for free 24/7
  • Nightline – most unis will run a confidential Nightline service
  • Mind – call 0300 123 3393 for support
  • HOPELINE UK — call 0800 068 41 41
  • Shout – text shout to 85258 to talk to someone via text message 24/7
  • CALM — call 0800 58 58 58

Hopefully, the advice in this article will give you some great advice from other students as well as resources if you’re struggling at uni right now. With so many people telling us they’ve experienced loneliness at uni, remember that the pressure to have fun and live “the best years of your life” isn’t always the reality and that all you can do is take each day as it comes and prioritise your mental health and wellbeing always.