4 Ways Friendships Change from High School to College

Though only a few months into the semester, you’re probably starting to stress over the fact that you and your high school besties have had to part ways. Though you may feel certain that the bond between the two of you is unbreakable, beware that the college years are notorious for testing the muscles of even the strongest of friendships. That said, when it comes to those friendships that, well, are just kind of meh, there’s some good news: you don’t have to keep them! College is your chance to start anew.

When it comes to relationships of any kind, whether you plan to hold onto friendships past or decide to wipe the slate clean entirely, remember that the next years are your time for self-discovery (which might just mean finding yourself without your favorite gal pal by your side). Read on for must-know tidbits on why your college friendships won’t look like your high school ones and for a couple tips on how you can still stay in touch with your person 1,000 miles away.

1. Long-distance bites

We all know the narrative of the two star-crossed SOs going their separate ways after high school, while still trying to keep that flame alive in college. Let’s just say that we can’t all be Romeo and Juliet, and oftentimes keeping things going long-distance doesn’t work out too well. The same goes for friendships. Going off to college, you can’t just expect you and your friends’ bond to stay intact, simply because it always has been. Physical distance is a very real obstacle and one that you’ve never had to face if your closest pal lived next door to you for the past 18 years.

If the friendship is one that you want to keep strong, you’ll have to work at it! Schedule regular Facetime calls, text each other with updates about your day and maybe even plan a road-trip to visit each other in person.

Mary Hilliard, a freshman at University of Notre Dame, notes that staying in touch is still possible, but you probably won’t be spilling every detail of your day with one another like back in high school: “Simple texts like, '­hope you’re having a good day' or 'hope things are going well’ can go a long way in keeping the friendship strong,” she says. “These little shout-outs don’t even have to be to your immediate circle of friends.” It truly is all about small gestures. Without seeing each other on the daily, you may find that you there is more small-talk than usual in your conversations, but that’s totally OK!

2. You may not have a solid “squad” anymore

In high school, you had your core group made up of all your favorite ladies. You all carpooled to school together, ate in the lunchroom in a big posse and had the same classes. There is no way to sugarcoat the fact that your college friendships probably won’t look like this. Especially if you are headed to a larger university, there will without a doubt be times where you don’t have a class with a close friend or someone to sit next to at every meal.

 Though these changes sound daunting, not to fear! These inevitable moments where you don’t have your people right by your side are the ones that will help you grow that much more as an individual, which is what college is all about. Take advantage of being out of your comfort zone by taking some time for yourself or branching out to meet new people. Interact with other students in your classes or introduce yourself to the cutie sitting beside you in the dining hall. Before you know it, you’ll have friends in all different places around campus and hopefully you’ll be more confident in your ability to stand on your own and embrace your newfound independence.  

3. You may have to rely more on technology to keep old friendships alive

You used to see each other pretty much every waking minute, but now with hectic schedules and less free time than ever, it feels impossible to find a time to talk. Though most of us Gen Z ladies are already pretty reliant on technology, prepare to immerse yourself even further into the worlds of Snapchat, Facetime and texting. You probably already have a 300+ day Snap-streak with your closest friends and stay up-to-date on each other’s Instagram accounts, so this whole technology dependence thing should be no sweat, right?

Not necessarily. Whether you are always communicating through your phones or not, college will likely be your first time experiencing having technology as the only option for spilling the details of your latest SO troubles. Face-to-face communication is simply not something that can be completely replicated over a screen, so don’t be surprised when you still feel a nagging sense of disconnect even after an hour-long Facetime chat in your dorm room with your bestie across the country. Disheartening as this is, try to keep your spirits up by creating a countdown for your reunion over the holidays and a bucket-list for all the fun stuff you’ll do when you see each other in person over Thanksgiving break.

4. You’ll let go of unfulfilling relationships

Let’s just establish this point-blank: You don’t have to hold onto all of your relationships from high school. Perhaps you had a friendship that was, admittedly, more for the sake of convenience than actual connection. You ate mystery meat together in the cafeteria and gossiped about the hot dude with the locker next to you, but when it came down to it, you never really had a true bond. Here’s the good news about college: You no longer have to hold onto these friendships because you are starting completely fresh!

Marissa Sanborn, a sophomore at the University of Michigan explains why there is no time for anything but healthy and genuine friendships in college: “There is a greater diversity of people, especially at a larger university,” she says. “In high school, you are just trying to get along with whoever is there, but in college you only have to be friends with the people that you genuinely like. You don’t need to feel pressure to be friends with every person that you meet!”

Related: 5 Ways Your Friendships Might Be Unhealthy

Transitioning from high school to college friendships won’t be a walk in the park, but it is important part of self-discovery. College is, in every way, your time to better get to know yourself and learn what sorts of people you want to hang around. As a general rule of thumb, always seek out the individuals who respect your vibe and build you up, not tear your down. Chances are you’ll face more than a few bumps along the way while trying to hold together old bonds and construct new ones, but keep the bigger picture in mind: With entering the real world looming in the not-so-distant future, the people you choose to have by your side now are the people that will (hopefully) be by your side for life. So choose wisely.