College Friendships vs. High School Friendships
How They Differ and Why It Matters
I recently found myself in a discussion with my roommate about how our college friends are different from our high school friends, and I got to thinking: why is it that those relationships are so different? In the time from when I walked across the stage at my high school graduation to the last day of my freshman year at college, I didn't think that much had changed in my taste in friends. I would like to believe that my friends from high school would get along with my college friends—if I were to introduce them—because I figured that I had developed all of these relationships based off of certain aspects or qualities I saw within each person that drew me to them as a friend. So I figured that they would generally be a similar crowd.
What I soon realized was that high school friends will forever have that perception of high school you. Think about it; you spend the four years of high school cultivating a reputation for yourself and once you graduate, that is the image that everyone leaves with. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but the reality is that once you graduate, everyone goes their separate ways. And unless you go to college with your high school crew, it becomes hard to stay in the loop. It happens. My best friend—of 8 years and counting—and I found it difficult to talk every single day all of the time so instead we would just update each other on what had happened in our lives when we were both home. It is hard trying to tell each other EVERYTHING without forgetting the little details. Relaying it after weeks of an event happening is a lot different than telling your college friends about it in real time. The party that your friend at Penn State went to won't be as fun to talk about in comparison to talking about it and reliving it with their Penn State friends.
And as much as you'd like to grow with your high school friends, they have growing of their own to do at their own colleges with their own new friends. So we hold onto the image of our friends, as we try to update each other on what's going on in our lives and we don't let distance deter us from keeping our friendships from high school. True friends stick around, no matter how long ago you've talked or hung out. It's this notion that any amount of time can pass and you'll still pick up where you left off.
The thing with college is that you can create whatever image you want for yourself in high school, but the second you step onto campus you're given a completely blank slate all over again. You're gifted a restart button. This new start, though, is the foundation for figuring out who you truly are. You're surrounded by people from different backgrounds, disciplines and mindsets. This is what really shapes you for your lifetime or at least begins to shape you. As my roommate said it, "I feel like the bond of the collegiate struggle is stronger than the high school bond." And she has a point. College challenges you to become more independent and responsible. Your classes are mentally stimulating, you're meeting new people, learning new things and you meet "your people." They are going through the same thing you are and so you talk about these things and friendships are formed that aren't the same as your high school relationships. Your high school friends know high school you inside-out, but college forces you to not be that same high school you. At least, it's supposed to.
Your college friends live with you, eat with you, study with you, party with you, they become your new crew. And none of you are exactly the same as you were in high school. You all learn from each other and you talk about your classes or why you're there and those conversations are stimulating and they introduce you to new ideas.
The important thing to remember is that your high school friends remained your friends for a reason. You can always depend on them to have your back. And your college friends are your segue into adulthood. You're all new to it and it becomes a lot less scary going through it with other people than alone.