“Change is hard, but don’t be afraid of it”: Alumni’s Tips and Tricks for Keeping Up with Friends in College


Being away from your friends can be hard (Credit: Olivia Palmbos)

As the reality of graduation sets in for seniors, many students may begin to wonder: how will I keep up with friends from high school after splitting up for college? 

“It’s really hard to maintain a good consistent relationship with someone especially when you can’t see them face to face,” comments Varsha Reddy (’23). “We’re going to be gone for an entire school year from seeing each other, so I obviously expect not to be AS close, but I do want to keep in touch with them. I’m pretty sure that’s the anxiety everyone has.” 

Is it possible to maintain relationships, even with distance impeding communication? 

From using technology to becoming pen pals, from keeping up with BeReals to being with one another in real life, there are plenty of strategies that graduating seniors and soon-to-be freshmen can use to keep up with friends from high school – even if they’re going to different colleges. Keeping up can seem like a daunting task, but through a multitude of strategies and dedication and loyalty, it’s more than possible. 

For some alumni, keeping up with friends during college relies on the strength of the relationship pre-graduation. “It depends on how the friendship was before, or how the relationship was before,” says Sarah Wajdi (’22), current freshman on central campus of University of Michigan . “If it wasn’t that close, if we were friends but didn’t talk every day, then [the relationship] definitely slowly became more distant. But, if we were inseparable, then I don’t think it was very affected.” Building up connections before college is critical to establishing firm foundations for a long distance friendship or relationship in the future. 

In a digital age, it is no surprise that technology provides a useful platform for connection for young generations headed off to college. “[Keeping up] is mostly definitely online, because I think with everyone’s busy schedules – especially with admissions to college and post-grad opportunities becoming more competitive – people are really busy,” comments Wadji. “I don’t see a lot of people in person very often if it’s not through an extracurricular. So I think technology, text, and social media has been my main method of seeing and keeping in touch with people.” 

Eilie Weatherbee (’22), current freshman at DePaul University in Chicago, also values technology when it comes to keeping up with the daily lives of old friends. “It’s nice to see what people are up to on social media, even if you aren’t really talking to them,” Weatherbee states. Social media allows a glimpse into the lives of close friends without being overbearing. “It’s great for checking in, too. BeReal is also great, because you get to see what someone is up to every day without feeling like you’re intruding.” 

Other alumni have chosen more creative methods of communication. Sally Eggleston (’22) and current freshman at Kalamazoo College, says that she and her best friend took on a more old-fashioned approach to keeping in touch: becoming pen pals. “We’ve started sending physical letters to each other, which is a really cool idea because we don’t have that much going on in our lives, so we can put it all down on a letter and mail it back and forth from each other. One day I received a letter in my mailbox and it said she thought it would be a good idea, and I loved it. And so I obviously responded and sent one back.” 

From breaching the distance to making plans in order to see friends in person, initiating contact between old friends opens up doors for new activities. “Planning time together when we’re both available is also great and gives us something to look forward to,” Weatherbee comments. “We keep a list of things we want to do together at some point and it’s great to have that.”

Alumni have also noticed the unexpected perks of distance in their personal relationships. “…For the people I’ve actually kept up with, I think somehow not talking to them everyday has actually made us closer,” Weatherbee notes. “We want to be around each other when we can, and it’s not like when we’re in school together where we’re just like, ‘Oh, here’s a person I’m friends with because I see them everyday in class’, but more so, ‘This is my friend who I choose to be friends with and stay close to even though we don’t see each other that often.'”  

Overall, alumni express an understanding of the fear and worries many seniors feel as they anticipate moving on to a new chapter of their lives. “I think that kind of change is hard,” says Wajdi. “But don’t be afraid of it.” 

Moving on to a new school, far from friends and family, is a normal thing to be apprehensive of. However, it’s also a reason for excitement and hope. “It is also a great time to find new people.” Weatherbee assures the class of ’23. “It can definitely be scary and you might feel very lonely at times, but you’ll find your place.”