Are Your High School Friends Worth Keeping in College?

By now, you’ve probably heard all about how different college life is from high school. In many ways, it’s SO much better. Hello, autonomy over your own social calendar! However, it isn’t necessarily the party that it can be made out to be.

You may not realize it while it’s happening, but the whirlwind of college life changes you and helps you grow. Sometimes, this means growing out of past friendships and into new ones. Some friendships just aren’t meant to last after graduation! Here are six important questions to think about in figuring out which friendships you’ve graduated from and which ones are there for the long haul.

1. Are they your true friend or just an acquaintance?

Chances are, not everyone you spent time with in high school was your BFF. Whether that person was your go-to study buddy for math class or your prime source for gossip in gym, you had a relationship with that person on some level. To determine if your friendship is worth keeping, the first thing you should do is think about whether that person is someone you would trust without question, or just a casual acquaintance whose wit made that class you couldn’t stand bearable.

Understanding what category her friendships fell into is what has helped Lexi Hill, a junior at University of South Carolina, prioritize various relationships from high school. By being honest with herself and identifying whether certain friends were casual acquaintances or truly best friends, Lexi was confident that she and her high school squad would stay close when freshman year of college came around.

“I’m sure we’ll continue to be very close even as we graduate and into the future,” Lexi says. “We all became friends in grade school, some of us sooner off than others, but throughout our childhood we were always there for one another during the ups and downs.” According to Lexi, those ups and downs were the moments that truly defined who her close friends were.

While you shouldn’t diss your high school acquaintances, you also shouldn’t worry about working around time differences and a packed college schedule to keep up your relationship with them. Save the effort for the friends who have truly been there for you in the past year. Besides, you’ll have plenty of new acquaintances from your dorm, your major and your extracurricular activities. 

2. Does this friendship exist for the right reasons?

Maybe you’re a social butterfly who can strike up a conversation and make friends with anyone in earshot. Maybe you’re an introvert and enjoy having just a few close friends. Regardless of the number of friends you had in high school, the friends who you end up keeping should complement your personality in important ways like communication frequency and mutual respect.

This quality-over-quantity approach is what has helped Jazmyne Jackson, a sophomore at Boston University, keep up each of her friendships from high school as well as those from her freshman year of college, too. “College is the next step before the rest of our lives!” Jazmyne says. “I don’t need superficial, frivolous people around me.” Honestly, we have to agree.

If you’ve realized that you’re ‘off’ more with an old ‘on-again-off-again’ friend, or that someone you were once close with isn’t a reflection of the kind of adult you want to become, an end to that friendship is overdue. While you don’t have to have the exact same goals and priorities, in a healthy friendship you should be able to understand and respect each other.

Related: 19 Signs Your Friend Group is Actually More Like a Family

3. Would you prioritize time with this person?

College is, without a doubt, one of the busiest times in your life. At 19 years old, you can end up working 12-hour days (between classes and assignments, internships, part-time jobs, and maybe Greek life, sports or clubs). It’s exhausting to say the least, but you can probably compare it to an amped-up version of high school if you were on a sports team or a time-consuming student organization like theater or newspaper.

While putting in countless hours on and around your high school campus may have been the bane of your existence, one benefit is not having to go out of your way to hang out with your friends in those activities. Unfortunately, sometimes all of those effortless hangouts disappear abruptly once you graduate high school. According to Alaina Leary, a recent graduate from Westfield State University, sometimes the effort that those friends put in to see you can disappear too.

“Some people are only your friend out of convenience, but once it becomes difficult they no longer care to try,” Alaina says. “I still make time for my friends from high school and college and as a result, our friendships haven’t suffered.” Alaina says that it’s important to not feel trapped in a friendship because you were once close, if the other party isn’t putting forth the effort.

So, if your last few texts to an old ‘friend’ have gone unanswered or they haven’t made any attempt to hang out again before you go your separate ways for the summer, it’s probably best to accept that that they’ve gone in a different direction in their life—just like you’re about to!

4. Can you find ways to maintain communication?

If you have decided to maintain friendships from high school, you might be wondering how you’re going to manage staying in contact with everyone while you’re away at school. While it may be difficult to accommodate the schedules of everyone in your friend group, you’ll have plenty of ways to do so once you’ve worked out the details.

Technology like group chats, Skype, Snapchat, FaceTime, iMessage and a good old fashioned phone call now and then make it easier than ever to stay up to the minute on everything going on with your friends, even if they’re far away!

“It was really nice to have a friend from home to talk about stuff at school with,” says Sophia Walker, a junior at Bowdoin College, who stayed close with her best friend from high school even though they now go to different colleges. “She was unbiased, so I could tell her everything without worrying about anyone judging me, and talking about it all helped me process my first year”

While she and her bestie from home were initially texting constantly through her freshman year, Sophia says that they started talking more sporadically during her sophomore year but stayed close regardless.

You don’t have to always be texting back and forth to assure your long-distance friends that you’re thinking of them. Sometimes a #tbt post on Instagram or a cheeky Snapchat can go a long way in recounting those memories that made your high school years together the best.

5. Will your friendship survive time and distance?

Sometimes, less is actually more when it comes to staying in contact! Make sure to be conscious of how much time you’re spending catching up with your squad from home, and if your constant contact means that you’re passing up opportunities to make new relationships on campus.

Kayla Düngee, a sophomore at Kennesaw State University, explained that giving each other some space was actually the best thing that she and her best friend from home did for their long distance friendship. By setting aside time once a week to FaceTime, they’ve dedicated time to just catching up with each other while also supporting each other’s growing independence while at school.

“I want her to have her own friends and meet new people—not to feel like I am holding her back.” Kayla also says that being mindful of the fact that your friends now have their own lives too is especially important. “Naturally they are going to fall into their own rhythm and routine, and you can’t make them feel bad for doing so. Don’t feel bad when they don’t text or call back in a timely manner.”

While it may seem scary to only talk once a week or so with someone you’re used to spending a few hours a day with, you can rest assured that the distance will disappear when you reunite and you’ll be able to pick up right where you left off!

6. Does your friendship with this person make you happy?

The most important question here comes down to the simplest one: does your friendship with this person make you happy? Maria Cristina, a graduate from the University of Puerto Rico, advises you to prioritize the people who bring positivity to your life and who push you to become a better version of yourself. After all, that’s what growing up is all about, right?

All friendships cycle through their ups and downs naturally. It’s totally normal to even lose contact for a couple of months at a time. The friends that are worth keeping in your life are the ones that will empower you and support you ––they’re the ones that will help you become the adult you want to be, and they’re the ones that will push you to try harder even when you don’t feel like it. By being mindful of those qualities in your friends from high school, college and beyond, you’re setting yourself for major success in friendship and in life!