I’m a 20-year-old student in my second year of a law degree. Getting good grades and doing well at college is very important to me, and I study all the time, but I have realised that I am lonely and use study, and work as a way of not feeling so lonely. I had friends all the way through school, but since moving to London to go to uni, I have not really made any new friends and feel quite isolated. R.D., Balham
The popular image of student life is of packed libraries and lecture halls followed by rowdy bars. However, the most common student experience is the one you describe. Over the years I have had many young students as clients who identify as lonely. Like you they found going to university a massive change and upheaval in their life and threw themselves into work as a response, which led them to neglect (or avoid) the social aspects of university life. This happens as a response to both academic anxiety and social anxiety.
So, you are not alone in feeling lonely as a student. The question, in a way, is: is this a temporary response to being at university? Or is your use of work and study as a refuge from the difficulty of making friendships a pattern that could set in for life? The fact that you have identified this pattern, and begun to suspect that you are working to avoid loneliness is very helpful. You have shown intelligence, dedication and diligence in your studies so I am sure you can apply these qualities to working out how to expand your horizons a little and find a peer group that you feel comfortable with.