Keeping in Touch: Maintaining High School Friendships at College (page 2)
As the strains of "Pomp and Circumstance" fade away, you realize that nothing will ever be the same. You're excited about graduating from high school and starting college, but you'll sure miss your high school friends as all of you begin the next phase of your lives.
The good news is that today's college students are finding it easier than ever to keep in touch with their high school friends. Even as they make new friends at college, students are using email, instant messenger services, social networking Web sites, and good old-fashioned visits, phone calls, and letters to stay close to their high school friends.
21st Century Friendships
"For students worried about falling out of touch with their high-school friends, my advice is simple: email," says Bernadette Henderson-Horner, admission counselor at New Mexico State University and a recent college graduate.
Even if you didn't have easy Internet access or email in high school, colleges now have all you need for email correspondence. It is a rare college indeed that does not provide computer centers, Internet access, and email addresses free to students. At more and more colleges, students who bring their own computers can get free Internet access in their dorm rooms.
"Email was the best thing to happen to me because I could talk to my friends on a daily basis without paying for a stamp or running up the phone bill," adds Henderson-Horner.
Instant Messenger and similar services are also popular with college students. "It's cheap and a great way to keep in touch," says Anna Stroud, a student at Albion College (MI).
Technology can even help friends connect from across the world. Mickey Chang, who attended high school in Michigan and is now a student at Meikai University, Japan, uses email capabilities on his cell phone to send messages to his best friend's pager in Michigan.
Tried and True
Of course, you don't need a computer or a cell phone to maintain a long-distance friendship. Many students go beyond email to let their high school friends know they're not forgotten.
"I still send birthday presents, and a note once in a while to everyone," says Stroud. "Mail is good—everyone in college loves to get mail!"
Nothing substitutes for hanging out with your friends in person, though. Many colleges have overlapping breaks, so make sure to let your high school friends know when you'll be home. If you and several friends attend colleges fairly close to one another or to home, try to schedule a weekend visit or two.
No matter how faithfully you and your high school friends keep in touch during college, your friendships will change. Each of you is meeting new people and having new experiences.
"When students return home after a semester away, it's not unusual for them to discover that they don't have as much in common with their high school friends as they once did," says Jill Emerson, freshman class dean and freshman area coordinator at Dickinson College (PA). "While this may seem awkward, students should remember that changing and growing as a person and developing new friendships are key components of the college experience."
Lauren Fardig, a student at Eugene Lang College (NY), notes that it's great to talk about old times with your high school friends, but the past shouldn't be the only focus of your conversations. "The most important friendships I've held over time have allowed me the space to grow and change, learn from mistakes, and form new ideas," says Fardig. "Without my friends' understanding and support of mutual change, I think I would have felt trapped in our past and unable to keep moving."
Another common change is the number of high school friends you keep in touch with. When you see people every day, it's easy to have many friendships. But when you don't see your former classmates more than a few times a year, you may find yourself maintaining relationships with only your closest high school friends.
"It was difficult for me at first to uphold friendships with high school friends because I was not used to having to make an effort to keep in touch—I was used to friendships coming easily and always being accessible on a local level," says Fardig. "Making that transition was often frustrating, because it tests the level of friendship."
With the ease of email and other communication, it can be tempting to spend too much time corresponding with old friends, especially for homesick college freshmen. Make sure that you leave time in your schedule to nurture new friendships with your college classmates.
"Students should be careful not to miss out on the opportunities in their new environment by focusing too much on their old environment," says Emerson.
Most college students find that they can "make new friends but keep the old," and that the effort of maintaining long-distance friendships is worth it.
"I feel that my high school friends understand me the most, and I can talk to them about troubles I am having at school and everywhere," says Stroud. "I love them, and I know I'll always be friends with them."
Reprinted with the permission of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. © 2008 National Association for College Admission Counseling.
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