Many teenagers entering college are beyond excited for the new life they are about to start, and I’m sure you are too. There will be multiple changes that you will have to experiment with such as: living away from home with no parents, a new roommate, and, let’s not forget, your new diet. However, the one thing you need to realize is that the biggest adaptation you will make is learning to live with and around new people. High school is largely composed of clique friend groups. You very well know that you fell into one of these categories in high school yourself such as the preps, jocks, or nerds. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you this completely disappears in college, but you soon will learn that the social stigmas in college are completely different than those in high school.  This video also describes the similarities and differences between college and high school.

As you can see college gives everyone the opportunity to fall where they wish; therefore, not allowing others to strategically place them into one specific category. If you want to party and be a part of Greek life, that’s your choice, but you can also choose to not party and join other organizations. Either way, it’s your choice and you will find others who have the same interest as you! These interests will be what leads you to your new friends and potentially even your future spouse; however, you may also have close friends following you here to college too. You will quickly learn that your past relationships will change, as both of your lifestyles are changing at the same time. I hope that this article will give you advice on forming new friendships and maintaining those from the past to where your college experience and memories here at James Madison University will be some of the best in your life.

To start off I would like to describe to you some very important skills needed in any relationship you may form in college.  All great relationships begin and grow over time with communication. Everyone knows that when you first meet someone the polite thing to do is introduce yourself and have a nice casual conversation; however, is this where the open communication ends? As your friendships and relationships grow in a college setting, you will quickly learn that communication can and will be your best tool in having meaningful and enjoyable friendships. The first step, however awkward it may seem, is to get to know each other’s expectations in the relationship. You don’t want to get caught up in having different goals and anticipations. For example, maybe your new friendship was made so that you can have someone to each lunch with and talk to about each other’s day; however, your new friend can only stay to eat lunch because he or she usually sets that time aside to do school work. This is where conflict can arise. You not knowing your friend has a specific time to do school work can make you feel as if he or she is leaving you to avoid your conversation. This is why upfront and open communication of expectations can help prevent and resolve potential conflict. By sharing with each other your concerns and interests, you learn how to build a stronger friendship. For a more  descriptive explanation of the communication process visit: http://www.geneseo.edu/health/relationships.

Now the previous paragraph may have seemed like common sense to you, but you’ll be surprised at how truly important communication is as I now describe friendships on a college campus. The biggest and probably most difficult task in college is balancing your social life with your school work. In a recent interview with one of my peers Rob Graham, a current honors freshman here at JMU studying international affairs and religion, I was able to get another opinion on time management. Graham stated that “[you] should use orientation as a week to meet as many people as possible” since you don’t have school work to focus on yet, then “go to dinner and lunch with friends instead of eating alone to be able to spend time with them and make plans”. You should also consider becoming friends with people who are presented with the same struggles as you, like other people within your major. Graham also advised “join at least one group on campus that way you can meet many people who care deeply for what you care about, which can lead to long lasting friendships”. However, meeting these people is not enough. You must also learn their way and style of communicating and expressing their feelings and beliefs. For example, your greatest challenge will be learning your roommate’s ways of communicating. You both are now living together and must learn to share your ideas with each other so that you don’t end up pulling the relationship apart. It is difficult because people change once they come to college and you cannot believe everything they told you over the phone or on Facebook prior to coming to college. Who knows they may begin to drink when they said they never would, but your responsibility is to communicate to them your concerns for your relationship before it’s far too late. Finally, you must understand that you will be constantly meeting new people on campus, but it’s ultimately up to you which people stay acquaintances and which ones become lifelong friends. Remember we will all continue to make friends until we die, but the friends you make here at JMU will be your first adulthood friends in the real world you are beginning to discover!

My last bit of advice goes out to everyone coming to college looking and hoping to find that one special person. Dating in college can be a whole other monster than what comes to your mind when you think of dating in high school. Of course many people like the idea of going out to parties dancing and having a onetime thing with different people every weekend; however, I’m more concerned with those who want to find a special person because we are all adults now and hoping to eventually meet “the one”. I decided to interview Jarrod McAninch, a current honors freshman majoring in Sport and Recreation Management, because he is currently my boyfriend of four years. We meet in high school and now attend JMU together. He is also a creditable source because he has also had many friends “pair up” and even break up over his first year of college. McAninch gives very similar advice that I gave at the beginning of this article. He emphasizes how “communication is key, because it’s a lot different beginning on the same campus [and in some cases] the same dorm”. He explains that “you’re going to be in contact with each other a lot more” than you would think or are used to. Finally, McAninch wished to leave you with the idea that it is “important to give each other personal time and space. You’re both going to want to have time with both your own friends and your significant other, but you must find a healthy balance” so no one feels neglected. I strongly agree with all of McAninch’s advice to you. He and I made it through all four years of high school without fighting once, but college has dealt us our fair share of disagreements. Remember all of this dating advice is not just for “experienced daters” but for those of you who wish to begin dating or continue dating in college as well.

There will be many things for you to learn while attending James Madison, which gives you a great reason to be extremely excited to come here! I can only hope for you to find long lasting friendships that will help you through these crazy four years (the best four years of your life to date)! I would like to leave you with a quote from Bethelle Smith, a current freshman majoring in Nursing: “Just be yourself, get involved in everything that matters to you, and be open to new and wonderful experiences!”

  For extra fun tips on making friends visit: http://veemoze.wordpress.com/2010/08/18/the-freshman-15-meeting-new-peopl/

Works Cited:

“Are College Relationships the Same as High School? (Reddit Response).” YouTube. YouTube, 08 May 2013. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

“The Freshman 15: Tips for Meeting New People.” So It Must Be True. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

“Hot Topics! College Students & Relationships | SUNY Geneseo.” Hot Topics! College Students & Relationships | SUNY Geneseo. N.p., 2013. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

 

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