How can someone manage building college relationships that are meaningful?

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Answered by: Mikaela, An Expert in the College Life - General Category
College is an absolutely amazing experience that almost everyone I have asked has indicated as the "greatest years" of their lives. These same people who reminisce on the greatness of their college years also advise me to "live it up" because this is an opportunity that does not reemerge in one's life.

But college can be overwhelming, between balancing academic and social life, managing finances, eating right and involving oneself on campus. It can be very difficult to understand building college relationships meaningful enough to withstand academic, social and/or economic pressures. Sometimes, we bond with the first people we see, often our roommates, and then explore new social circles within the college population. However, our initial relationships may not be the strongest or best options for us.

How can you tell if your current friend is a solid person? How can you tell if the person you are dating is right for the time being? One important fact of college is the inevitability of mistakes: initial friends can be disappointing or even hurtful; boyfriends and girlfriends may turn out to fall short of expectations. This is natural and while it seems off-putting, even sad at first, these are the building blocks of life. The mistakes made are not necessarily your mistakes but rather just the lessons all college students must learn.

I know that the friends from freshman year do not always turn out to be the friends taking pictures with you at graduation. However, there are many cases where those friendships proved strong enough to last the whole four (or more) years. It is extremely hard to decipher the "good" friends from the "bad" ones, but that should not be discouraging. Instead of viewing the inevitability of shifting relationships and personal change, it is best to focus on learning from every experience. Extract values from that disappointing friend and look for those values in a new friend.

It never hurts to continually make friends and expand one's social circle. Though this sort of experimentation with friendships and relationships is an integral part of the college experience, it is extraordinarily important to note that truly ill-behaved or unruly friends are not a good idea in any situation. If a friend proves to let you down, that is okay. But a friend who is a truly negative influence, who affects your behavior, could place you in serious danger in almost every aspect of your college life: academically, socially, economically, etc.

Hold fast to your morals, values, and instincts. A person's instincts can serve as a magnificent compass through the murky issues college presents us with. My best insights on building college relationships and friendships in college is to be continually open to new people and ideas. But many many friendships and relationships are worthwhile, so it is important to maintain these. The relationships meant to last will come with ease: as the tensions and stress of academics or social pressures or finances arise, one's true friends will not vanish but rather support you through the hardest moments.

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