Finding True Friends in College

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Can the true, Anne of Green Gables “kindred spirit” kind of friendships be formed in college? How can you tell which of your college friends are actually genuine? These questions have crossed every college freshman’s mind in that awful moment of panic when you realize: “I don’t really know anyone.”

Think back to when you were in kindergarten and grade school when making friends was a piece of cake. One minute you were perusing the playground together and the next you were high school seniors, graduating as best friends. Fast forward to your college years, and chances are you’ve noticed a huge difference in how you form friendships. While some people seem to make friends effortlessly, others may find themselves longing for the comfort of their high school friend group. If you are the latter, fear not. Making life-long college friends isn’t impossible and shouldn’t be something to shy away from; just like anything else, it’s all in how you approach it. If you’re feeling uncertain about your new friends, ask yourself these questions:

1) Do your new friends have ulterior motives?

The all-knowing Oprah Winfrey once said, “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” This is a saying that I took to heart once I started my freshman year. Oprah’s advice allowed me to realize that many people have hidden agendas. Whether a student hopes to be popular and make a lot of friends, join a certain fraternity or sorority or lead a campus organization, it’s in your best interest to understand where an individual’s priorities lie before you commit to being his or her college bestie. Are they just being nice to you as a means to get ahead? I don’t want to scare you out of socializing; it’s possible that the people you’ve befriended are genuinely good people who want to know you for the right reasons. My advice is simply to be smart and think seriously about the motives of others.

2) How dependable are your friends?

It’s important to be honest with yourself about your college friends. Not to say your wild, party friends aren’t worth hanging out with; they may be a ton o’ fun. But take a moment to contemplate if you can really depend on them. For example, if you were to call one of these “friends” in the middle of the week and vent about whatever is going wrong in your life, would they listen and offer advice? Could you ask them for help should you get into a bind? If so, your friend count probably just went up.

3) Are you making time for your friends?

Finally, it’s time for some self-evaluation. Are you making yourself available or is your college agenda getting in the way socially? For those “workaholic” students – myself included – it’s easy to make a habit of passing on social occasions in order to work a few more hours at your part-time job or to squeeze in another homework assignment. But, if making friends in college is of concern, it’s time to toss aside the books for an evening and focus on your social life. Capiche?


In the end, there is so much truth to Bette Midler’s 1970s lyric, “But you got to have friends…” Feel free to hum this tune in your head — preferably in Donkey’s voice from Shrek — every time you lose sight of those people in life who mean the most, because it’s absolutely true. Who are you going to call when things in your life get downright crazy? Who will order thai food and watch cat videos with you for hours? So, even if your high school friends were great, move forward from the past. Live in the present and embrace the great friends waiting for you in college



Sophomore > News-Editorial Journalism > University of Illinois

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