6 Tips for Choosing Friends in College

College life usually comes with a great deal of change.  It might mean moving away from family for the first time, as well as adjusting to life as an adult. You may have grown up with the same set of friends most of your life, and now you find yourself in a new environment where you don’t know anyone.  It can be intimating to start making new friends, especially if you haven’t really had to actively search for friends since kindergarten. The friends you choose in college will have a great deal of influence in shaping your college experience and helping you discover who you are away from home and family.  Choosing the wrong friends can permeate every aspect of your college life including your mental health and academic performance. Here are six tips for navigating your new social life as a college student.

Look for Friends that Share Your Interests

A common pitfall of friend searching is trying to change yourself to fit in with social groups.  If people around you are doing things you don’t enjoy or you feel might be bad for you, find new people.  This might mean doing things solo for a while, which can be enriching on its own. Spend time doing the things you truly love and let friendships occur naturally with the people who love those things as much as you do.

Don’t Rely on One Person for Everything

When you are in a new environment and feeling alone, it can be easy to attach yourself to the first person you find you get along well with.  This can lead to problems down the road when the person you have become emotionally attached to inevitably lets you down. It is better to find balance in your social life by having a few close friends that fulfill different needs.  For example, while one friend might be great as a gym buddy to keep you motivated, while another might be better as a shoulder to cry on when you are feeling low. Expecting one person to fulfill every emotional need will only set you up for failure. 

Choose Friends with Common Goals

If you are serious about your future career and creating opportunities for success, choose friends that are similarly as driven.  These friends will know when it is time to skip a night out in favor of studying, and help push you toward your goals. Making friends with people who lack ambition and foresight can drag you down, keeping you from staying on track and reaching your full potential.  Making friends with similar life goals, however, will help ensure that you remain friends after college, as you will continue to build lives with common threads.

Find Friends that Share Your Values

While you shouldn’t look exclusively for friends that are just like you, it is a good idea to choose friends that carry the same core values through life.  By college, you have most likely developed your own moral compass, and now is not the time to allow others to cause you to betray your own beliefs. Friends with shared values will hold you accountable for your choices in a positive way, and inevitably help you become the best version of yourself. 

Look for Friends that Have Strengths You Lack

A great benefit of friendship is being able to call on a someone close to you to help you out with something you struggle with.  While you might not want to befriend someone specifically because you need help with math, it can be beneficial to enlist the help of people you feel like you already click well with.  Of course, friendship is a two-way street. If you expect help and support from someone, it is important to consider how you can repay the favor. Sharing your strengths and talents with a friend who could benefit from your help is a great way to develop a healthy reciprocal relationship.

Avoid Friends that Encourage Destructive Behaviors

College life is stressful, and many students find themselves turning to drugs or alcohol to cope.   This is especially true when drinking and drugs are a large part of the campus culture, and the pressure to fit in leads to substance abuse.  Drug and alcohol use can lead to various mental and physical health problems, as well as addiction. Substance abuse can also lead to poor academic performance and even failing or dropping out of school, which will ultimately affect the trajectory of your life.  If you do choose friends who use drugs or drink, be sure that they will support you if you choose not to do so. If you believe you have already developed an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it is important to reach out for help. Additionally, you may want to consider eliminating certain people from your life that are less than entirely supportive of your recovery.  

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, now is the time to ask for help.  At Burning Tree West, you will find a team of compassionate, knowledgeable professionals who specialize in helping young adults struggling with addiction, and their families.  Here, our clients tackle their addictions head-on and harness the power to restructure their lives in a way that fosters lasting sobriety. We believe that practicing recovery doesn’t have to mean an end to educational or career goals, but instead can become a fundamental part of a successful and fulfilling life.  For more information on how we can help, call us now at 972-962-7374