Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Career > Her20s

PSA: It’s Okay to Outgrow Your College Friends

For many freshmen entering college, the fear of making friends and creating lasting relationships is at the forefront of our minds. However, by the time senior year rolls around, we’ve made our mark on campus and have connected with people from classes to clubs to parties. Unfortunately, as we leave the halls of academia and head into the real world, maintaining those relationships can be hard and for many of us, we struggle with knowing if they’re worth the effort. Here are five signs that might prove it’s time to move on from your college friends. 

1. Your only form of communication is through social media

Social media is the way to connect these days, but if the only way you’re staying updated with your friend’s life is through their posts and pictures, you might want to reconsider your relationship. Maybe this is because you’re no longer invested in the relationship and it’s perfectly okay to feel this way. Not all relationships are permanent and moving on from college means moving on from certain people. While you can post a picture from your phone, you can also use it to call your friend and see how they’re doing, but if the will or want to do so is fleeting, it’s time to reevaluate. 

2. You find yourself connecting with other people on a deeper level

Making meaningful friendships in college was simple: you lived close by, decided to attend the same school and more than likely had similar interests. However, as you entered the real world, reality hit and the same people you once connected with over a cup of coffee after a final, are now changing and so are you. Katie*, a senior in college, says she’s already beginning to feel her friendships shift. She says, “It’s tough to have to continue to explain that I’m working to a group of people who are making the most of the ‘college experience.’ Of course, I still have some amazing friends who understand and are my cheerleaders; however, I’m in my fourth year—it’s hard to stay around some people who have the same habits they did in first year, and fault you for not sharing them.” Understanding that your friendships will shift and change is crucial, and when you find yourself connecting with new people, take that as a sign of growth and know you’re on the right track to a better you.

3. When you need them, they’re not there

We all have hard days, and as we enter into the adult world we begin to experience new things and learn new lessons. However, for many of us, calling on our friends becomes our lifeline and when the same friends you once called on in college are no longer around, it can be a wake-up call that your friends are no longer as invested in you as you are in them. Take this in stride and know it’s okay to move on. And above all else you can take this as an opportunity to focus on new friendships. 

4. You’re taking a different path

While age is just a number, the years immediately following college are different for so many of us. Between careers, romantic relationships and the in-betweens that life throws at us, keeping up is hard to do. Cayla Pavlovec a social media specialist and graduate of Millersville University, says, “It was really hard to stay connected with a group of people whose futures were going in a completely different path than yours. I was ready to move anywhere in the country for a job and they were already looking at houses and thinking about babies. I was never negative about their aspirations, and I always congratulated them on their next milestone and sent cards, but they were just getting harder and harder to connect with.” Having the strength to acknowledge your lives with your college friends are no longer aligned is a healthy and important step to take in your young adult life, and know you’re not alone in this.

5. You realize your friendships in college were not that strong to begin with

Leaving college allows you the opportunity to branch out and pave a new path. In doing so, you have the opportunity to look back on the friendships you cultivated in college and reflect on what they taught you. Sometimes in that reflection you may discover that some of the friendships you once had in college were merely there for convenience or ease. Teresa Smith, a psychologist based in Chicago, Illinois, notes this as the “nostalgia effect.” She says, “It’s easy to hold onto and replay positive memories, but you must make yourself aware that those memories are in the past and not every single factor in that memory is something that needs to be brought to the present.” While holding on stories of your college days and the fun times is what we all do, it’s perfectly healthy and okay to know that not everyone from those memories needs to be carried with you. The friendships you created in college were right for you during those years, and not every single friendship you still have will be right for you in the future, and that’s okay. 

Navigating young adulthood is tricky, and having to do it while the fate of your college friendships hangs in the air is hard. But as Sydnee Lyons, a recent graduate of Florida Atlantic University, offers, “I think it’s important not to guilt yourself or your friends for these natural changes, assuming nothing went terribly wrong. People change as they grow up and it’s difficult to expect everyone else in your life to change in just the same ways and at the same rate as you are.” So, fret no more post-grads, life is only getting better and saying goodbye to no longer meaningful friendships is natural, and curating new ones is only a wonderful side effect of entering the adult world. 

*We’ve changed her name to respect her privacy.

Lauryn is a 2014 graduate of Mars Hill University where she majored in Business with a concentration in marketing and finance. While in college Lauryn was the Founder and Editor of Her Campus Mars Hill. She is currently a candidate for her Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She lives for a good plot twist, a great cup of coffee and new running shoes.