Community building Tips & how-tos

Back to School: College tips from Nextdoor

Written by Team Nextdoor

Whether you’re a freshman or a senior college student on campus, there’s one thing that’s always true about college—there’s constantly more to learn! And some of the best lessons we learn in college happen outside of the classroom.  

If you’re heading to school this fall, establishing a sense of community will be top of mind as you build a home away from home. Make the most out of your experience with Nextdoor’s five favorite college tips.

1. Save money and shop locally

Risers and binders and posters—oh my! When moving into your college housing and prepping for new classes, there’s always a lengthy shopping list to check off. Luckily, many of these items are sold at a discount (or even given away for free) by your own peers so you don’t have to break the bank.

Start by checking out online marketplaces like Nextdoor For Sale & Free, where you can find: 

  • Mini fridges
  • School supplies (pencils, binders, laptop cases, etc.)
  • Desks
  • Bicycles
  • Rugs
  • Fans
  • Bed risers
  • Posters
  • Backpacks

2. Hit up local hot-spots to make memories

Any local will tell you that the best way to get to know a place is by exploring the nearby businesses. 

Local restaurants, bars, and coffee shops are some of the best places to interact with the community. In fact, college town hot spots usually hold events and specials just for students. Find recommendations for nearby restaurants and bars on Nextdoor and stay up-to-date on deals and event calendars.

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3. Join (or even create) a club

College is the best time to do what you love (or dabble in something new). Whether it’s a school-based a cappella group or a volunteer litter cleaning crew, clubs are an amazing way to explore your hobbies or discover new ones. 

Consider joining a local interest group for fun extracurricular activities such as:

  • Choral or music groups
  • Campus newspapers or media publishments
  • College radio
  • Social justice advocacy
  • Study group
  • Recreational sports (soccer, frisbee, hockey, etc.)
  • Running club
  • Student government
  • Religious or spiritual organizations
  • Board games

Don’t see anything you like? You can always start your own club! On Nextdoor, Esmerelda reached out to other women in her Bronx neighborhood to start a local hiking group. Soon enough, she and multiple women started weekly outings to nearby hills and trails. Form your own club by creating a local interest group on Nextdoor (pro tip: plan to meet in a public area like a park or the campus quad). 

4. Start a side hustle or part-time job

Between late night ice cream runs and new semester textbooks, college can definitely put some pressure on your budget. A part-time or freelance job in college can help pad your funds and open the door to people and opportunities you would’ve never met otherwise. 

Be sure to find a job that works around your class schedule. Many students opt for flexible jobs such as:

  • On-campus work (dining hall assistance, front desk receptionists, etc.)
  • Dog walking
  • Tutoring
  • Babysitting or nannying
  • Cleaning services
  • Reselling textbooks
  • Mowing lawns
  • Waitering
  • Coaching or teaching children a skill (guitar, tennis, etc.)

If meeting more people is your goal, choose a job with a built-in team. Local restaurants and college campus institutions (like a gym or resource center) often hire multiple workers, which makes it easy to form new connections.

Lauren, a 20-year-old student in Elk Grove, CA, is an avid animal lover who wanted to start saving up for a service dog to help with her autoimmune disease. Lauren began raising money by reaching out to her community on Nextdoor and offering to pet sit and dog walk around the neighborhood. In a matter of 2 weeks, she connected with many neighbors and made over $500. 

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5. Meet your neighbors

“Hey, is your power out, too? We have extra flashlights if you need them.”

“Yeah, I also tanked my Stat quiz. My roommate’s a Math major, want to come over and pick her brain with me?”

“Knock knock! We baked too many cookies in the dorm kitchen, want to help us eat them?

Without a doubt, knowing your neighbors can come in handy, especially in college. Getting to know who lives on your floor or in your building can open doors for help, friendship, and of course, for those amazing spontaneous moments that only happen in college.

Walking right up to a new neighbor can be a little intimidating. That’s where welcome gifts, common interests, and online connections can bridge the gap. 

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Nora, an incoming freshman at the University of Dallas, posted on Nextdoor for advice on her first year of college. Almost 200 comments later, neighbors provided a shortlist of college freshman tips, from scheduling classes to how to get around campus. One neighbor even offered to be her mentor to smooth out the transition from home to college.

Say hello to a new school year with Nextdoor

Ready to build a community this semester? It’s as easy as a post on Nextdoor. From local business pages to interest groups, Nextdoor connects students with each other and everything nearby. Ace your college experience by joining your Nextdoor neighborhood today. 

To connect with your local neighborhood, download the app or login at

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