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How to Make Friends in College That Will Last a Lifetime

A group of guys who learned how to make friends in college laughing and taking a selfie together.

As much as I loved learning in college and taking a variety of fascinating courses, I think the best part of my collegiate experience was meeting new people and connecting with friends, many of whom I’m still close to today.

Not too long ago I reunited with a college roommate at our alma mater. It might have been 14 years after we donned our caps and gowns together for our graduation ceremony but, once we were together, hanging out, eating, and laughing, it felt like yesterday.

How is it possible to make friends in college that will last a lifetime? Here are some valuable tips that have worked for me.

Make sure your friendship is build on something substantial.
It’s easy to fall into fast friendships in college especially when everything and everyone is new. A simple smile can go a long way. But it’s important to remember that long-lasting friendships are built on similar values⁠—and not just how many tequila shots you can take before you puke. Do you have things in common, like interests and activities? Are the things you value in life—for example, honesty and reliability—aligned with theirs? Look past the superficial and seek the substantial.

Seek out people who make you feel good. 
As you get to know your friends in college, take notice of their qualities. Are they trustworthy? Do they communicate openly and honestly? Are they encouraging and supportive? Do you feel good when you’re around them? Friendships are a wonderful ingredient to our lives when they provide a fun and safe haven for us. If our friends uplift us and remind us of our worth, while also allowing us to let our hair down, then those are amazing qualities that have the right stuff to make it for the long-term.

Be the friend you want to have.
What kind of friendship do you most crave? What kind of friend do you want in your life? Maybe the qualities you desire include compassion, kindness, support, and encouragement. If so, then in order to attract that type of friendship into your life, you must be able to embody them yourself.

Like attracts like. If you’re someone who complains about having shallow and fast friendships, then you might be giving off those qualities yourself. Do you follow through with plans or do you bail? Are you true to your word or you do make a lot of excuses? Do you offer your shoulder to a friend in need despite being in the middle of a Netflix binge? Be the friend you want, and you’ll end up meeting the same.

Prioritize connection.
College life, and life after college, can get pretty busy. Factor in work, internships, and romantic relationships, and sometimes our friendships take the back burner into our lives. Like any relationship in our lives, friendships require nurturing in order to grow. Take the time to organize an afternoon or a night when you and your friend(s) can hang out and reconnect.

If you can’t get together, then make sure to check in with your friend and get some intel into what’s going on with their lives. If your friend is being a little distant or busy, let them know that you’re thinking about them and want to connect. Sometimes we get so wrapped up with our own lives we just don’t realize that we’re being MIA. When we don’t make the time for connection, then it’s easy for friendships to slip away. Sending a daily text, even if that means a goofy GIF, helps keep the connection alive.

Have realistic expectations and respect your differences.
People have different needs, and different languages of love—including our friends. How you communicate your appreciation and devotion to a friendship might very well be different than your friends. Maybe you like talking on FaceTime a few times a week while your friend would prefer meeting you for a coffee on the weekend to catch up. When we fail to realize that we have unique needs and expressions of love, then it’s easy to get frustrated and disappointed with each other.

Also, be prepared for change: people change, and as a result, so do our relationships. Allow your friendship to evolve and grow, and commit yourself to the transitions no matter how difficult they can be (unless it becomes toxic, then you can bid adieu). When in doubt, communicate how you feel with your friend so you can find a common ground.

After college, life gets even more complicated and crazy and amazing—which is why you want a group, or a handful, of solid friendships to join you on the incredible ride. By taking heed of these tips, you might very well friends in college that will last a lifetime, and take it from me—there’s nothing better than an old friend who remembers you back then.

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