Do Your Friends Hold You Back From That 4.0?

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Also written by Shannon Longworth.

Registering for classes: never an easy task. Do you go with the teachers rumored to toss out easy A’s? Or do you worry more about timing so that you never have a class before noon? And if your friends decide to take the same class as you, your life can change for the worse. You choose between working for that A or listening to your friend mid-lecture. Discussing his wild night out may become the breaking point between you two—and your GPAs.

You may register for a class like College Algebra with your friend. Each day when you arrive in class, you two sit together. You discuss upcoming tests and quizzes as well as your social lives. “Research indicates that we tend to have friends that are similar to ourselves, and that interacting with people from different backgrounds and people who have viewpoints/opinions different from your own are valuable to one’s learning,”said Assistant Professor of Psychology at Roanoke College Dr. Lindsey L. Osterman. Expanding your horizons and meeting other awesome people in your class originates from attending class alone…. so, there’s one plus of taking classes independently rather than with your friends.

Now, some people have no trouble taking classes with their friends. “It’s always nice to have someone to study with or answer your questions when you have a problem set or exam,” Boston College junior Courtney Gleason said. “I think their presence usually affects me in a positive way because we can share our knowledge and learn from each other.”

However, not everyone has such positive experiences taking classes with friends—at least, maybe not in the academic sense…

“First semester, I took a class with a girl who I’m now dating and it was my idea to register together,” Boston College junior Mike Flynn said. “I think friends who you become friends with in class is different than friends from outside class. I feel like it is much easier to stay focused when you take classes with friends you first met in an academic setting, however I knew my girlfriend outside of an academic setting first, so it was harder to focus on modern history.”

Love interests or anyone you feel remotely attracted to can be a major distraction in the classroom. Signing up for a course together might get you that first date and give you a great conversation starter. But I’ll bet you won’t be able to focus on what matters for getting that A in the class.

Another downfall of choosing classes with your friends lies in distractions…kind of like watching the new season of Game of Thrones. “I took English 101 with my friend, and we always tried to make each other laugh during class. One day we even got kicked out,” said Flagler College senior Justin Vitalo. If your friend distracts you just as much as you distract them, it could be a formula for disaster. No one wants to get on their professor’s bad side, so you may need to take class matters into your own hands.

You also run the risk of losing a friendship over something that should’ve never been a factor in the relationship in the first place. Let’s say your professor assigns a group project, and you immediately jump into a group together. We all know what happens with group projects… One person does too much, another does too little and before you know it, tensions are high. Light a match, and boom. Friendship explodes into a million tiny little pieces all over the floor of your sociology classroom floor.

Or, maybe you decide it’s best not to work in the same group with your friend, and he or she gets offended. She’s not bitter. She swears.

Think about it. College serves as the first time in life when you fully think for yourself. Why not separate your academic and social life a bit? If you take classes on your own that you find intriguing, you get the chance to meet people who share the same interests as you. And you can always hang with your friends after class.

You chose when you want to go to bed. You chose when you want to party instead of study. And most of all, you chose what classes you want to take. “College is as much about adjusting to autonomy as it is about academics,” said Academic Advisor at SUNY University at Binghamton Clara Barnhart. Newly formed independence sets in which can be super overwhelming in college—especially when you decide on your schedule for the upcoming semester.

Whether choosing between Russian Cinema or Marine Biology or anything in between, the most important part of choosing one lies in what you find intriguing. “Your own goals and interests should be the primary driver of which classes you take in college,” said Dr. Osterman. When it comes time that you and your friends decide on classes for the upcoming semester, make sure to pick one that suits your interests.

Registering for classes with friends pretty much comes down to what friends you think will be motivated team players.

“I suspect the more important question is not whether you should register for class with friends, but rather which friends should you register for class with,” said Professor of Psychology at Florida State University, Dr. Paul Conway. So, hanging around driven and inspiring friends, sort of like Carlton Banks in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air may be your best recipe for success.

Plus, friendships are significant, intricate parts of our lives, which is why they’re also fragile. Your friends are for relaxing and socializing with, so try to avoid graded, classroom settings when you’re together. The next time someone asks you to jump into a class with them, take a step back. Consider your goals and the possible consequences of doing so. “I would say it’s probably not a good idea, especially if they are outside class friends,” Flynn said. “It’s harder to focus and may hinder your overall learning.”

Try to not to stress when choosing classes. Talk to your advisor and even family about possible classes that suit your interests. College resides as your time to be independent. Why not display your newfound autonomy by attending class alone?

Alex is a senior at Florida State University studying History and International Affairs. When she isn’t attending music festivals, she is busy watching Saturday Night Live and keeping up with contemporary trends. Born and raised in New York, Alex has adopted writing as a way to convey her fast paced and dynamic life.

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