How to Stay in Touch with Family and Friends While Away at College

We all have roots somewhere. It’s important to remember where you come from.

If you have relationships you value when you reach the end of your high school career, it’s a good idea to make an effort to maintain at least a few of the friendships you’ve cultivated.

Of course, you don’t have to stay connected with everyone you know in high school. After all, the beauty of college is getting to start fresh, grow new friendships, and leave some relationships in the past. However, trying your best to stay close to one or two choice individuals after you graduate can really enrich your life. Your friends from high school know you and your past, and they can understand you in a way that new friends may not be able to.

It’s equally important to stay connected to your family. Your family will always be your family, and even if you’re moving clear across the country (or world), staying close with your kin is a healthy thing to practice.

So what’s the best way to go about navigating this new chapter in your relationships? Is it possible to spend too much time with your old friends and family? We’ve put together a list of things to consider as you work to stay in touch with your loved ones.

1. Carve out specific time for relationships

It’s easy to put off connecting with loved ones when you’re away at school, so it’s important to schedule out some specific time to spend with them. Just like you would plan a particular date and time to connect with a friend for coffee, it can be really helpful to put some time on your calendar to Skype with your mom or FaceTime with your friend back home. Of course, you certainly don’t have to make a 4-hour-long phone call to make it count—even scheduling 15 minutes to chat quickly can do a lot to maintain your relationship.

Sharing about the little, everyday things that happen to you (e.g. how you lost your keys that afternoon, what you ate for breakfast, a conversation you had with your professor, etc.) and hearing about those same life-affecting things from your friend or family member can help strengthen the ties between you.

It can also help to schedule time to talk when you’d normally be doing nothing or working on something that doesn’t take a lot of brainpower. Your bus ride home or your time doing the dishes are great times to chat with someone.

2. Be patient

It can be easy to assume you’re drifting away from one another if your friend is consistently rescheduling phone calls, but try and give them the benefit of the doubt. You’re both living separate, very different lives, and sometimes people go through busy seasons or need a little wiggle room to grow in their communication skills.

College is busy, and homework can be stressful. When in doubt, be patient and don’t be afraid to reach out now and then instead of waiting for your friend to get back to you.

3. Remember the little things

Remembering little things about your loved one can make them feel cared for and remembered. Celebrating your friend’s birthday by sending them a little gift through the mail or writing a snail mail letter to your sister is a good way to let them know you’re thinking about them. It can also be helpful to send a text before an important appointment or test—they’ll feel cared for knowing you took the time to connect with them, even if just through a few words.

4. Friendships shift and change

It can feel confusing when your friendships shift and change, but you can trust that you’ll find your way. While some friendships may fade, others might simply morph into a different version of that friendship. There can be some awkwardness when learning how to manage a relationship after such a major life transition, but keep trying and keep communicating, and you’ll eventually figure it out.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to new friends and acquaintances while you’re at school, but don’t forget about the people you left behind. Both types of relationships are important, and college is a really sweet space where you can cultivate community on a regular basis.