How to Maintain High School Friendships in College

Going to college can leave you feeling uncertain about your friendships back home. Whether you’re on the other side of the country, or just a short drive from your hometown, chances are you’re separated from many of the friends that you had in high school. When I went to college, I wasn’t really sure how it would affect my friendships. Would we stay in touch? Would we visit each other? Would it feel weird when I saw them again after months apart? So far, though, it hasn’t been as weird as I thought it might. Here are a few things that have helped me adjust to having long-distance friendships:

Keep in touch

This one might sound obvious, but it can be easy to forget to stay in touch with friends who you don’t see all of the time. You don’t need to call all your friends every night or anything like that, but even just texting them a few times a week will help you both stay up-to-date with each other’s lives. I also like to call or FaceTime my friends sometimes just to be able to actually talk to them. Communicating with your long-distance friends is really important, because it will help make the transition easier when you see them after months apart .

Make plans to visit

Plan visits to your friends at their colleges or have them visit you! I know this might not be possible depending on the distance, but if you can, try to see your close friends from high school in person. I have friends at colleges all across the country, but I still try to see them whenever I can. I make time to see my friend at community college when I go home, and I’ve also spent a weekend with my friends from another college in Iowa. My friend, who goes to school in Chicago, has come to visit me, and I plan on visiting her next semester. I even found a cheap plane ticket to visit my friend in California next week. Even if you don’t have a car, you might be able to catch a ride from someone who does or find a bus.

Have realistic expectations for your friends

As great as your friends probably are, they are not perfect. They make mistakes, just like you, so it’s important to not expect too much from them. Misunderstandings become that much easier when your communication happens mostly over text and Snapchat, which can lead to fighting over things that don’t really matter. You can’t expect your friends at other colleges or back home to understand everything that’s happening in your life, since they aren’t there with you. This can be frustrating at times, but getting mad at your friends for not being as empathetic as you might want them to be won’t help. Another thing to remember is that just because your friends can’t always make time for you, doesn’t mean they don’t care about you. You both have your own busy lives, and just like you can’t drop everything to call or visit them, you shouldn’t expect them to put their life on hold for you.

Know when to let go of friendships

Keep in mind that even though your friends aren’t perfect, they should still be good, supportive friends to you. College is a time when you can really decide which friendships are important to you. There’s nothing wrong with naturally drifting apart from a former friend who isn’t a positive part of your life anymore after going to college. You don’t have to see your high school friends every day at school anymore, so if you don’t think a friendship is worth being in anymore, don’t feel like you have to continue that relationship.

Being separated from your best friends from high school sucks, and while trying to maintain long-distance friendships can feel a little challenging, it is definitely possible. Make sure to stay in touch with your friends, whether that’s a phone call or actually visiting them in person. Don’t expect your friends to be perfect, but also don’t be afraid to let go of old friendships if you need to. If you and your friend both truly care about your friendship, you’ll both put in the effort to stay friends despite the distance.

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