Come Thanksgiving, most students will return home for the break with the chance to take their minds off their schoolwork and focus on spending time with families and friends that they haven’t seen since summer’s end. For many freshmen during the transition to college life, high school friendships changed, if only because integrating into college life and becoming functioning quasi-adults takes time. But, that was probably expected. Less anticipated, however, are the differences between the nature of high school friendships and those made in college. Though they are different, it is vital to cherish what both have to offer.
It’s strange because in college you seemingly get to spend more time with your friends--but in reality, you may not. In high school, you had the convenience of seeing your friends every day. You walked to gym together, ate lunch together and spent a good amount of time in class together. “Catching up” took all of five minutes before class began to talk about the shock of an episode of a TV show you both watched or your amazement that the plant you were supposed to grow for biology that you left in your locker is somehow still alive.
In college, you don’t have that same comfort; spontaneous meet-ups are more likely to occur. For the most part, despite living in such close proximity to friends, you’ll go to the Plex on your own. You’ll learn to eat lunch by yourself because your schedules don't always line up. You don’t always have your friends in your classes, so you have to make more of an effort to see them on your own time.
In fact, you might go days without seeing some people just because there’s so much to do in college, by obligation and by choice. Outside of more rigorous classes, we’re cramming for our exams, being active in campus organizations, and doing laundry, hopefully, which takes up enough time that it may constitute weekend plans. The decision to put aside some time to spend with someone becomes more meaningful because we have far less of it.
In high school, people are far more reliant on their friends' opinions. There’s more pressure to fit in, even among your friends. In college, people generally feel more secure in their identities and interests, and the sheer number of well-established clubs and organizations gives us the freedom to seek out whatever it is we’d like to do.
The ways our friends are interconnected are different, too. While you may be used to having just one solid group of friends, or you may have had friends that knew each other fairly well, in college, your friends are drawn from diverse places. Because they vary, from people in your residence hall to people in the same extracurriculars, you’ll probably be spending more time with different groups of people who may not know anything about each other. This can contribute to more individual growth as you interact with and learn from different crowds.
The greatest thing about the friends made in high school is that you grew up together. The trials and tribulations of four formative years were faced with them by your side. However, college friends will help you realize that you haven't stopped growing yet, and they will be with you as pursue your goals and figure out who you want to be.