Image from flickr.

Image from flickr.

After my first year of college, many people asked me what my favorite part was. Like thousands of other students, I had a tough time choosing just one aspect, but I ultimately decided that it was the people I met and befriended in the last nine months. Overwhelming and exciting, your freshman year is only 1/4 of your college experience, which seems to work somehow like dog years: because college years can be the fastest and slowest years of your life, at the same time. Looking back, my first year absolutely flew by in what seemed like three months. But when I reflect, my life opened and changed much more than I would have expected in one year, making the year seem like a marathon. As summer is ending, I’m excited to go back and see everyone, and all the different types of friends I made first year.

Yes, the different types of friends.

The people you meet first year aren’t necessarily going to be the only people in your life the rest of your time on campus. As you grow, you also develop different traits and interests that can be shared with a diverse group of students, just as you can learn from others, as well. You have four years to meet new people, and I encourage you to take advantage of this – because it’s likely you never again will be somewhere where you are surrounded by hundreds of other students with similar values, goals, and personalities. Just because you don’t expect someone to be your closest friend doesn’t mean they aren’t worth your time and you can’t learn something from them.

Some different types of friends may be

1. The person you always say hi to in the dining hall but never formally met each other

Get his or her story. Sit by them and get to know them. If you see them in the dining hall a lot anyway, you’re likely on the same schedule. What’s there to lose?

2. The friend for diversion

You don’t hang out on a weekly basis and don’t really have the same core personality traits, but they’re always good to go to when you need something new in your life. If you’ve been in the same routines and habits for a while, open your horizons. Talking to them every day might get a bit much for you, but once in a while, they’re nice to get caught up with and share a few laughs together.

3. The person you always go to for advice

This person isn’t necessarily the same person as your best friend. They know you well enough (because they’re easy to talk to and you like talking to them), but not too well to predict your actions. They always give you unbiased suggestions and genuinely want what’s best for you. There also can be friends who don’t necessarily wants what is best for you and rather just offer what they would do in your position – so be aware of that find line.

4. The person you want to be

This friend is someone great to learn from. They can be older, the same age, or even younger, but there’s something about them that you admire. This friend is always great to be around but you also have to make sure you don’t try to change to become them. You can, however, learn from them.

5. The friend out of convenience

Whether you have a lot of classes together or a lot of mutual friends, you find yourself not necessarily inclined to hang out with this person, but you still do just because it’s part of your weekly routine. This is the type of friend who will likely change the most each semester. Enjoy them, but know you aren’t obligated to them!

6. The loyal, best friend

There are hundreds of different ways you can meet your best friend in college and not all of the friendships start off clear either. You may meet them through class, another friend, randomly sitting down with in the dining hall, or a extracurricular activity, but after a couple of weeks it is clear that they understand you and care for you as much as they do themselves. They see you at your worst and your best and love you the same throughout. When a bond is this deep, regardless of how much time passes in between seeing each other – with summers and studying abroad – when you reunite after a while, it feels like no time has passed. Thank this person for helping you grow into the person you are today.

In summary, there are different types of people and relationships a college student will form, and it’s important to understand how friend groups may change as one forms deeper relationships and grows as a person. Students can learn something from everyone they meet, and freshman year is important to find out what qualities and values in friends matter most.

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