When starting Freshman year, you picture yourself walking to class, studying late nights, going to wild parties, and grabbing lunch; but you’re not alone right? You’re living it up and having a great time with all your new friends! But how do you meet these partners in crime? Here is a guide on why college friends are so different from high school.
Get a fresh start.
Unless you’ve done some moving, you’ve probably gone to school with pretty much the same people from K-12. While it’s comforting to build bonds with people you’ve practically grown up with, it can also be kind of constricting. They’ve seen all your embarrassing moments, witnessed your awkward stage, and might know more about you than you wish. In college, very few, if any people, know anything about you, so it’s an opportunity to present yourself the way you want! Just remember to be genuine and open and not to get so caught up in trying to impress others that you lose yourself. It’s a new experience for everyone else in your class too; you already have more in common than you think!
You are more mature.
We’ve all looked back at a grade school companion, and thought, “What was I thinking?” Granted nobody that you met in high school stays the same person, and connections fade, but if you think about it, you can probably note one or two friendships from high school and realize they were pretty bogus. Maybe you put up with a mean girl for popularity or let a jerk walk all over you, because his eyes were dreamy, or maybe you just didn’t really have that much in common with the nice kid from 5th period English. The good thing is that these failed relationships teach you what you do and don’t want in a friend. You’re more likely to speak up if something rubs you the wrong way, choose better birthday gifts, and handle emotional situations with more ease. Just make sure you are honest and patient with yourself and your new pals, and your bond will be lasting.
Encounter more diversity.
No matter where your campus is, there will be people you would never run into in high school. You encounter people of different ages, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, nationalities, sexual identities, etc. The folks at your high school share the same general lifestyle, but at college, you’re often faced with totally alien habits and customs. This could cause some awkward moments, but keep an open mind. Once you get past your differences, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to gain new ideas and ways of perceiving life, and experience new and exciting friendships.
Make friends outside of class.
Up to now, chances are many of your friendships were formed in a classroom (or you met other people through your schoolhouse peers). It’s not uncommon to have limited interaction with students in other grade levels or even just those you’ve never shared a teacher with. However, college courses tend to be less interactive (you might never even speak to anyone!), so making friends takes more effort. Put yourself out there, and make friends everywhere. Many schools provide social activities for their students like parties, fairs, and talent shows. Sororities and fraternities actively seek members to join their close-knit groups, but if Greek life isn’t for you, most colleges host numerous clubs and organizations. Ask around!
Make friends for different reasons.
As you start putting the pieces of your future together, you’ll realize you need a little help from your friends. Apart from your social group, you’ll make work pals, and classroom buddies. High school kids don’t really need to network, but it’s essential for university students to make connections that will come in handy when establishing a career. It might feel intimidating or disingenuous at first, but it’s better to learn to navigate professional connections sooner than later. Making class friends in college is kind of like a safety net. When you miss class, you miss a lot, so it’s helpful to have someone to contact for notes, assignments, and study sessions.
Have more freedom.
In college you will be more independent; physically and mentally. Away at school, mom isn’t around to set a curfew or ground you on Saturday night. You can hang with your buds pretty much whenever and wherever you want. You can also pursue friendships you wouldn’t have before. Take advantage of this to do the things you always wanted to and make lasting memories! However, don’t go overboard. Your main goal is still to keep your grades up, and safety comes first.
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Kendra is an English major at St. John's University, totally embracing life as a student and finding herself along the way.