OPINION: Tips for first year college students on establishing new connections, keeping old ones

Two friends strum out some tunes on the guitar and hang out at the quad. During freshman year on campus, some students make new friends, but find themselves drifting away from others. (Archive Photo by Jed Barker | Collegian Media Group)

The start of a new fall semester means many freshmen are leaving home for the first time. Some of you may be thanking your lucky stars that this fresh start means time away from high school friends that you never really clicked with, and a chance to make new ones. Others may be intimidated by the idea of making new friends, and sad at the thought of leaving old ones.

Both, of course, are normal. College is a place to establish yourself as an individual and make friends accordingly.

My advice for those in search of entirely new friends? Always be yourself, it will automatically draw in people like you. Be patient, especially at the beginning. Have an open mind, you never know who might be an amazing friend to you. And lastly, make your social life a priority. Finding friends can be a commitment, but one that definitely pays off. Go to new things, get involved with groups that match your interests and put yourself out there.

If you’re someone who loves your hometown friends, here are some tips for keeping those long-distance friendship bonds strong.

1. Out of sight, not out of mind.

While it’s important to prioritize school and creating a social circle at your new home, remember to pick up the phone when your friends call. If you don’t, the relationship will likely fade.

Regardless, freshman year can be a difficult one. You never know when your friends may need a shoulder to cry on. It may be helpful to schedule times for a regular FaceTime call. Another way of making time for conversation with old friends is to take a long walk to class as an opportunity to give a friend a quick call.

2. Always spill the tea.

I’ve managed to hold onto a strong bond with friends I made in my teenage years. I credit this mostly to small, seemingly meaningless messages that I sent them overtime to fill them in on the minutiae of my life. And of course, to the similar messages that they sent me. Something hilarious, traumatizing, disappointing or shocking happened? I fill my friends in with dramatic texts and we share a laugh over the craziness of each other’s various adventures. This helps me feel looped in on where my friends are at in their lives in small ways.

3. Visit when you can.

While visiting isn’t always feasible with crazy schedules, travel costs and complicated sleeping situations, trying to take at least one weekend a semester to see an old friend is a nice distraction from the responsibilities of your regular college schedule. It also shows your friends that you prioritize them and want to see the new lives they’ve created for themselves.

4. Set them free.

The old saying, “If you love someone, set them free” may be true in more situations than just a romantic breakup. While holding onto my high school friendships has been an amazing decision for me, I also continue to realize that I have an entire life ahead of me. I’ll likely live or work in different cities. Making friends in college and later in work environments surely will expand my worldview and add more love and light to my life. The same is true for all of my old friends so encourage your friends to meet new people and establish connections beyond you. If you get jealous, try to remind yourself that new friends are in their best interest.

Anna Schmidt is the Collegian opinion editor and a junior in mass communications. She is also a student senator for the College of Arts and Sciences in the Student Governing Association. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.