One of the biggest adjustments that incoming college freshmen face is not being able to see their hometown friends on a daily basis like in high school. A “long-distance” friendship might seem difficult or scary at first but practicing simple, thoughtful strategies will help you and your friends better survive the time apart.
Talk to each other as often as you can.
Smartphones make long-distance friendships much easier than they were in the past. Between texting, video-chatting, and conversing over various social media platforms, it is easy to keep in touch with friends who no longer go to the same school as you. In fact, if you communicate often enough, the distance between you and your friends may not seem as great as you originally thought.
Be mindful of each other’s schedules.
While keeping in contact is pertinent to maintaining friendships, constant communication between you are your friends is not required. As you become more immersed in your college community and your studies, you will find that free time is harder to come by. Being understanding of hectic schedules is an underrated yet crucial component to maintaining healthy friendships. Sending someone a “thinking of you” text message during periods where you may not be speaking as often will go a long way!
Send each other birthday and/or holiday gifts.
Social media is a quick way to stay in touch with friends, but sending a gift through the mail is usually a more memorable gesture. Be sure to swap on-campus addresses at the beginning of the school year so that you can buy something thoughtful to mail them when a special day comes up. It could take a week or longer for your present to ship to and be sorted by your friend’s school, so give yourself ample time to mail the gift out so it arrives on time. Receiving a present or even a greeting card is a great way to let your friends know that you have been thinking about them.
Plan to meet up on breaks.
Smartphones provide a simple way to consistently keep in touch with friends, but nothing beats being together. Usually, colleges have similar or overlapping break periods, whether it be for holidays or a mid-semester break. This is the perfect time for you to catch up in person! Grabbing a meal, roaming the mall, or even hanging out at home are all easy, low-cost ways to meet with your friends and talk about everything that’s happened since you last saw each other. Going to separate colleges and having different schedules is hard, but finally see each other in person makes the wait worth it.
Starting college is an exciting new chapter in one’s life, but it comes with knowing that you will not be able to see hometown friends as frequently as you did in high school. Although it may not seem like it, having a “long-distance” friendship may actually strengthen the bonds you have with friends who go to different colleges. College helps to show you how much your hometown friends mean to you, even as you pursue different paths at different schools.
WRITTEN BY Kelly Vena The College of New Jersey
Kelly Vena is a senior at The College of New Jersey, where she is finishing up her English major and Communication Studies and French minors. She has worked as a marketing intern at Bedford, Freeman & Worth Publishers, the high school textbook branch of Macmillan Learning, since the start of the 2018-2019 school year. Kelly has been a writer since her senior year of high school, and her poetry has appeared in two publications as well as multiple editions of TCNJ's literary magazine.