Surviving College with Your High School BFF

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Ever since 9th grade you’ve signed each other’s yearbooks with “friends for life.” But now that you’re going to the same college, you’re wondering if this friendship will, or should last. You’re not sure you want your old nickname “Alfalfa” to follow you for four more years (it was just one bad hair day) but is it worth jeopardizing a friendship? We all want the best of both worlds, so trying this approach could help you pave your own college life, while maintaining the old BFF.

Call A Full Timeout

Alright coach, give yourself a breather right off the bat. Upon arriving at college, it can be easy to fall back on old norms and familiar faces. Avoid this as much as you can and you will find yourself immersed in a new, exciting population of people. Jumping the gun and clinging to the old BFF from the starting line is one way to ensure dependency and entirely overlapping social spheres.

When you start to feel frazzled, meet up with your hall mates, explore campus and find a secret study spot, or get super into that quidditch team you just joined. Getting comfortable with your own routine is key. You may even want to talk with the old bestie before you get to school and explain that you want to start the year independently. If they’re really the best then they’ll absolutely understand (and maybe even feel the same way).

Honeymoon Phase: Take II

Once you’re settled in, treat your old friend like a shiny new toy. Invite them to meet you at your now-established lunch spot, tailgate the football game together, or meet up for those new blackberry rum drinks at the bar. Go with them to their favorite places on campus too. Integrating each other into your new lives makes the friendship feel brand spanking new! Enjoy that honeymoon phase all over again (it just happens to be with the same friend). You might find that their gum smacking habit and habit of overusing the word “literally” don’t bother you as much as they did in high school. Plus, this ensures that you don’t compromise what you want out of college for anyone.

There’s No Need for a Tug-of-War

If you find that your new friends and old BFF get along about as well as the cast of The Real World, don’t try and force it. They don’t have to be friends. Crazy, I know. In high school you live in such a small bubble and it feels like you have to find a way to ensure that everyone gets along. In college, this is absolutely not the case and it’s hard to get used to. Instead of trying to integrate your old friends with your new ones and creating tension, it’s perfectly okay to keep your friend groups separate. Save Tuesday nights for dinner with the BFF and Sunday afternoons for intramural frisbee with your friends from French class. It takes more effort and planning, but it also makes it easier to maintain those friendships. (If they all get along, more power to you.)

Don’t Force It

College is a time of change. You may chop off all your hair, get a piercing, revamp your wardrobe, or decide you’re now super into techno pop music. You also may find that your personality evolves, and you don’t mesh as well with old friends. At first this can feel like you’ve messed up or done something wrong. You probably didn’t. The truth is, people grow apart and it’s completely natural. Both of you know you’ll always be there for each other, but that does not mean you have to force yourselves to hang out every waking moment like you did in high school. It’s okay for the relationship to turn into the occasional coffee date or “hope you’re doing alright” text. Enjoy your freedom, your new environment, and the evolution and growth that college engenders.

If old friends are meant to be in your life, they’ll stay. They may also cycle back through. Going through ups and downs is part of every relationship and you have to put your own experience and personal growth at the top of your priority list when you get to college. Don’t fret though. In 10 years the high school BFF could still be in the wedding party!

Lauren is a third year at the University of Virginia studying English and media. She loves baseball, pretending to do school work but actually watching Netflix, and three square meals of dark chocolate each day.

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