In-depth: The importance of friendships in college

by Ryan Martin

Relationships are particularly important to college students. College is where students meet their lifelong friends, where they meet people from different places and different hobbies that can lead them to new experiences, according to anyone who’s been to college.

Glenn Sparks, a professor of communications at Purdue University, was involved in a study that followed 32 same-sex friendships over the course of 19 years. The study  measured their compatibility through games testing communication and understanding. “The long-term friendships that showed up in this study provide a sense of a shared history that can be a rarity in today’s changing environment,” said Sparks. “Friends from our youth anchor us in this age of constant mobility. When something good or bad happens, pick up the phone to share the news with a close friend. Every time you do this it reinforces the friendship, and that can add up over the years.”

Studies have shown that emotional support and communication are two of many factors that makes a healthy family. Making new friends that a student at college can rely on for emotional support, advice and intimacy are ways to make the transition from home to college smoother.

Rob Koch, the director of Outreach Education & Counseling at FPU, said relationships in college are “very important.” Koch spoke about how he has friends to this day that he may not have spoken to in 40 years but can still call to catch up with at any time. “I think it’s important to meet people that are different from you,” Koch said “It may inspire you to move to a new place, pick up a new hobby, or find your passion.”

It’s been proven in a study by US News that college students can feel too overwhelmed with work to even consider having a social life, leading to less socialization and more depression.

It’s important to make time for friendly and intimate relationships within the academic schedule. Relationships can not only act as a stress reliever, but also as academic support system. Studying in groups has been proven to help maintain retention of the information as well as boost motivation and expand access to information. “Working together, students in study groups can generally learn faster than students working alone,” SpeedyPrep, a website designed to help students grow academically, states.

Another key aspect students will benefit from is not surrounding themselves with negative influences. Studies have shown that if one friend in a group has a pessimistic outlook or is very negative, it can bring everyone one in the friend group down, which eventually leads to an unhealthy lifestyle.

However, if students surround themselves with positive influences, it leads to a much healthier lifestyle. Friends encourage each other to work on themselves and this can be done in simple or complex ways.  “My friends here at FPU have motived me to better myself because I see them doing that for themselves,” said freshman Nicholas Sansone.

Positive friends will encourage each other to eat better and go to class on time and do their assignments along with being supportive of life changes and choices.

Making friends at college has other benefits as well.

Developing friendships can lead students to discover new hobbies, interests, or career paths. If a student meets someone in a different major it may convince him or her to change majors, or career paths.

At Franklin Pierce, there are dozens of clubs, sports, and events that can open opportunities to meet new people who have common interests and hobbies. In a small campus, students can easily connect with more people and form new relationships every day. Connecting with other students and forming these relationships will lead to a budding network of new friends that can last a lifetime.

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