Navigating College Friendships

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I’m going to be real for a second: college definitely is the craziest time of your life. To be fair, college is fantastic. You get to find the major that leads you to your top-choice career. You get to engage in college sports culture and the party scene. You finally get to make your own class schedule and ensure you can sleep in most mornings. College is full of great opportunities and experiences. At the same time, college is also really stressful. By the time you reach junior year, you’ll no doubt be enrolled in challenging courses and feel the pressure to apply for internships and start to narrow down post-graduation jobs. I forgot to mention that you’ll probably have to balance at least one job and some kind of social life with your classes. Often times, the key to success in college is leaning into your social life.


It’s so common for people to constantly talk about how crucial solid friendships are to any college student. At a place like MSU, you are regularly reminded to get to know people in your major and to join one or more clubs. While making friends seems like a joyful and easy solution to the stress of college life, you have to consider that college friendships take work. You’ll naturally meet people in your classes and get to know them and their aspirations over the course of the semester. Maybe you’ll luck out and have the same handful of people in all of your classes (liberal arts students know what this is like). On the other hand, you might find that a coworker and you are practically the same person. Either way, once you make a friend through class or a club, you have to navigate that friendship and commit to making it last. Nothing is worse than forming that best friendship with someone and then never seeing them next semester/school year.


The best way to make a college friendship last for years is to form a bond with your friend outside of the time you normally see them. You can’t expect to get to know someone well in the few minutes you get to class early. Sure, you might see that friend two to three times a week depending on how often the class meets, but genuine friendships are formed over trips to Blaze Pizza, late night discussions at Starbucks and crazy shenanigans at tailgates. The point of the matter is that you need to set time out of your schedule to meet with your friend and catch up with them. This rule holds true if the two of you have different majors and lives. If you’re a journalism student and your best friend is in the College of Business, you’ll soon feel the strain of hardly seeing each other during the week. Sure, maybe you’ve been friends for a few years and you both are in the same club, but I highly recommend being proactive about making the friendship a priority. Once you get to the busy period during midterm and finals, you’ll likely start to miss your friend a lot. However, hanging out, getting food and trading jokes and gossip are the best cure to the anxiety of being a college student.


One other thing I’d advise is to let the friendship flow and happen naturally. Don’t feel too stressed about finding friends in all of your classes and activities. It’s fun to chat with the people you sit by, but not every person you meet needs to be your best friend. Build up friendships with people you feel drawn to and the people who let you be you. There’s no better feeling than that of finding a friend you can be real with all the time. In addition, a genuine friendship can be the best cure for the anxiety of college life. The best part is that true friends love to support each other and spend time together. Once you find people you truly connect with, you’ll find that you will want to put in the effort to navigate the friendship.


Mark Ostermeyer is a junior studying professional writing and English with a concentration in creative writing. When he isn’t in class, you can find him copy editing articles for The State News and making burgers at Five Guys. Some of his favorite authors include Tom Clancy, David Baldacci, and Barbara Kingsolver. In addition, he loves watching and nerding out about shows like Blindspot, The Blacklist, Survivor, and Game of Thrones