The Importance of Friends in College
A word to the wise:
College is a time in which social activity is at its peak for most people. For those who never had friends in high school it’s an opportunity to finally find “their people” when they head of to college, while others may head off to college with an existing group of friends. Either way, a majority of your time will be spent around friend groups. The importance of friends in college is that they can affect your academic success or failure depending on who you surround yourself with and how you spend your time with those people.
Associate Professor Janice McCabe, author of the book Connecting in College: How Friendship Networks Matter for Academic and Social Success, writes two statements that I find to be very thought provoking.
“College Friendships are one of the most overlooked and crucial aspects influencing students’ success.”
“My research shows students create friendship networks that influence them in different ways. Friends can motivate and support students, but friends can also pull them down academically.”
I find these statements extremely important because they not only reflect on student relationships but also friendships before and after college. Friends can push you to workout, go rock climbing, start a business, study or set you up with the love of your life. Or, friends can push you towards partying on the regular, doing drugs, getting into fights or pressuring you to steal. Yes, you could say those are extreme negative examples, but the reality is that this is a very common thing.
Take a moment to think of your friends and the people you spend the most time with in school or life. Do you spend time learning and having deep conversations with them and participating in exciting activities or do you spend all your time partying, skipping class and wasting time together?
To be clear, I am not saying one friend is better than the other or that one friends cares more for you than the other does. What is important is to recognize the relationships you have. It can be a good thing to have both!
Friendships for academic success:
The prime example of a friendship that will emphasis academic success in a friendship that has a strong foundation of study time. It is important to make friendships within your program so that you can work on projects with other people in your classes. This significantly will improve your grades if done correctly. If all of your friends are in different programs, remember not to let the fear of missing out keep you from focusing on your own program.
There are 3 types of study buddies:
- The first type of is a student smarter than yourself and achieves much higher grades. This is beneficial because you can learn from them; their study habits, how they take notes, and any study techniques that work for them.
- The second type of student is one who is equally smart and achieves similar grades. This is the friendship I mostly found myself in. This is a good situation to be in because it is likely you will all work at the same speed, have similar study habits and etc. Pro-tip: Make sure to edit each other’s work to really gain the benefits of school friendships.
- The third and final type of study buddy is someone who does not get the same level of grades that you do. This student may often be struggling with assignments and tests. The benefit of this is that you can often ‘teach’ these students how to do things. By teaching, you will reinforce your own understanding of the material which is great. Just be sure not to give the answers to the other student, which can be considered cheating.
Friendships for academic failure:
Some friends, no matter how fun they are, are a total distraction from your academics. This isn’t to say they aren’t real friends, but rather that they are just likely to promote bad habits rather than good ones.
- Party friends. College is full of opportunities for partying, partying and more partying. It’s a wild and fun time which makes it easy to get caught up in that lifestyle. The FOMO is real, don’t underestimate it! With the busy nights and inevitable hangovers, your studies can easily fall to the wayside.
- The bad student friends. Some people just aren’t cut out for school. They often come to college with good intentions before quickly realizing they hate it! Knowing that they will most likely drop out next semester, they slack on going to class and never finish assignments. But since they have so much free time, they are always down to hang out! Make sure to only hang out with them when you are done with your classes and studying.
- The video gamers. Hey, I love video games. But like anyone else who plays video games, we all have that one friend who really plays videos games. They spend countless hours playing video games and are on every time you sign in. If you live with them, you can always find them on the couch! Playing video games that much can really hurt your social life and also encourage procrastination on your assignments.
Finding the friendship sweet spot!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When it comes to friendship, as long as your friendship bring you both happiness, it’s a good friendship. But remember that it’s important to find a sweet spot between the two groups.
Friendships for academic success are important to keep your grades high and school motivation high! Your other friends, who have the potential to promote academic failure, can be amazing for your social life, happiness and stress relief.If you have to many academic friends, you may find you are highly stressed with no outlet to let loose and have a good time.
On the flip side, if you have all party friends, your grades will likely reflect that. It’s easy to get caught up in social activities and skip your academic responsibilities!
The importance of friends in college is without question a difficult journey. When you are growing up in public school and high school, it’s quite easy and normal to be automatically lumped in with one crowd who you meshed with first. But when you get to college, and again after graduation, you have the opportunity to really choose your friends and cultivate personal and professional relationships. Choose wisely.
Do your friendships promote success or failure? Do you believe that friendship plays a role in your academic success? Let us know what you think below!