After we spend months–even years–looking at colleges, stressing out about applying to them, and then freaking out when we actually start hearing back and have to make a decision, we hope that all of that labor has landed us the “right” school. Picking a college is no easy moment in a person’s life, so once you do, you want to think that it’s where you are going to spend the next four years, and probably wish the same of the friends you have made at your college.
Unfortunately, that is not the case for everyone. Sometimes after actually starting school, people realize that the school wasn’t what they thought it would be, their financial situation prevents them from returning, or a myriad of other reasons lead to them not coming back to school. Whether they are transferring, taking a break from school, or dropping out completely, friends not coming back to school is incredibly difficult to deal with, especially if you don’t have the same feelings. But, nonetheless, it is a very real possibility that you will have to deal with it at some point throughout your college years, so here are some ways to help you comes to terms with and deal with it.
Do not make it about you
Your friend isn’t leaving the school because of you. It’s not your fault nor are they ditching you. Transferring or dropping out is a difficult decision to make, and it isn’t something people do on the drop of a dime. There is a lot of thought that goes into such a decision, and if the final decision is to leave, don’t attack your friend for not thinking about your friendship in the decision. They most likely did. Unfortunately, other factors against your college were stronger, and chances are they are just as upset that they have to leave you, so saying things like, “How do you think this makes me feel?” or “What about me?” is not helpful for anyone.
Try to understand why they are leaving
Maybe college just wasn’t right for them, maybe they can’t afford tuition anymore, maybe they want to pursue a major that isn’t offered at your school, maybe they just haven’t had a good experience. There are a number of reasons someone might decide to leave, but you won’t know a specific person’s reason if you don’t talk to them about it. If you can find out why they are leaving, you can find some closer, which will ultimately go a long way in making the separation easier to deal with. And if you can accept their reason, it is a lot easier to understand that ultimately the decision is what is right for them.
Spend some quality time with them
Once you know that your friend isn’t coming back (or it looks like they are probably going to be leaving as sometimes transfer decisions don’t come out until later), spend some time with your friend. While you can definitely still be friends when you are no longer going to the same school, actually spending time together will be much more difficult, so make the most out of the time you have left together. For example, you could do some of the things you put off by saying, “We have four years, we’ll do it eventually,” or revisit some favorite places that won’t be only minutes away from them next year. However, don’t treat it as though you’ll never see them again–being in different places doesn’t have to be a death sentence for friendships.
Keep in touch
Just like your friends from home, you now will have a long distance friend. However, unlike your home friends, you won’t both end up in the same place on breaks. Instead, you have to put in the extra effort in order to maintain the friendship, which means keep up to date on what’s going on in your lives and putting in an effort to possibly meet up at some point. It is certainly difficult, but being able to stay friends even after they have left makes the whole leaving thing a lot more bearable.