college friendship

college friendship

Beyond the Books: Finding a Social Circle

By Stephanie VanderVelden

Going away to college is anxiety ridden for a plethora of reasons. Being away from home, living in a new place, with new responsibilities, stacks of books, midterms, finals, the list goes on. But for many new students, loneliness is an issue. The task of finding a new group of friends is daunting. Resources on campus provide excellent opportunities for meeting people. Here are some ideas:

Take Advantage of Student Clubs

Student organizations and clubs are in abundance at most colleges and universities. Clubs are created by, made for, and run by students. Clubs cover a wide spectrum, so whatever interests you, is probably available. Whether it be politics, community service, movies, food, or sports, chances are there are other students passionate about the same things. Check out your college’s website for registered student organizations to find an interesting club. Or, if you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can start your own!

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Avoid College Life Drama

Here’s a basic college life tip for you: avoid drama! Trust me. As someone who taught college for 14 years, I saw how miserable many of my students got about situations that just weren’t worth their energy. And looking back on my own college years, I seriously cringe when I think about the ridiculous soap operas I found myself a part of—none of which were the least bit important in the grand scheme of things.

College friendships are awesome, especially if you live on campus or are involved in campus activities. These friendships can last you a lifetime. Two of my closest friends from college were in my wedding, and I really do feel that I can tell these two people anything.

On the downside, though, college friendships can be way too intense because you spend so much time together, and often live together in a dorm or an apartment as well. There’s so much stress in the life of a typical college student, and it tends to spill out to your social life as well.

So how do you avoid college drama? Well, you can’t entirely, but here are some tips to help. First of all, keep things in perspective. Assure yourself that ten years from now, or two years from now, or even next month, the drama of the week is not going to matter. Yes, it may hurt an incredible amount that your ex is now dating a friend of yours who lives down the hall. Yes, you may be justifiably furious that a so-called friend has told everyone something you wanted to keep secret. But take a deep breath and remind yourself of all the more important things in your life—and don’t focus on these things. They’ll fade away eventually—and will fade away faster if you focus your energy on other things.

Second, avoid drama by refusing to take on anybody else’s. Yes, if a friend wants to cry on your shoulder about her conflict with someone else, listen. Offer sympathy and take her out for ice cream or a margarita. But don’t get involved with trying to “fix” things, and don’t take sides. And if you find yourself in a friendship where the drama just doesn’t seem to stop, maybe this is a friend you shouldn’t spend too much time with.

In addition, a good way to avoid drama is to refuse to gossip. Sure, a little gossip is okay, especially if it isn’t the mean kind. But spreading secrets and saying nasty things behind people’s back will come back to haunt you—especially if you’re in a close-knit friendship group or if you live in a dorm.

One of my best friends from college and I lost contact with each other because of a bunch of dramatic gibberish that I don’t even fully remember. We got back in contact last year, thank goodness. Value your college friendships, and don’t let dramatic nonsense get in the way. It’s not worth it.





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