Some people go away to college for the express reason of a fresh start.

Others specifically plan to go to universities with their best friends and stay close to home. Deliberate or not, you may find yourself running into high school classmates once you get to campus. Balancing old and new friends can be tricky, but it’s doable. Here, students who attended college with friends from high school share tips for how to maintain old relationships while you meet new friends.

Expand Your Social Circle Right Away

Going to college with people you know from high school can be a nice safety blanket socially, but George Washington University alum Jason Patel advises breaking out of your comfort zone as soon as possible. “Definitely spend time away from your high school friends, especially in the beginning of college,” he says. “Go to extracurriculars, protests, sporting events, and other events to meet people.”

Matthew Slobodow went to Rutgers University with a lot of his high school classmates. As a result, he didn’t immediately feel the need to socialize with anyone who wasn’t already in his inner circle. That all changed when there was a breakup in his friend circle, which impacted the clique’s dynamic. “I felt very lonely because I wasn’t seeing [my high school friends] as often,” he said. “I realized I hadn’t cultivated many friendships with people who were on campus with me.” Slobodow recommends expanding your social circle, no matter how close you are to your high school friends. Looking back, he wishes he had.

Don’t Take Anything Too Personally

Frank Vamos attended New York University with a friend from home. “I remember once asking if he wanted to hang out when we first moved to campus and he just sort of blew me off,” Vamos says. At first, Vamos wasn’t thrilled about the snub from his high school friend, but instead of getting upset about it, he went out and made new friends. He says he probably wouldn’t have met his current friends if his high school friend didn’t force him to leave his comfort zone. And Vamos is glad he didn’t take the rebuff from his high school friend too personally. “It turned out he was just sorting out his own issues and adjusting too. We’re still friends,” he reports.

Introduce Old and New Friends

When it comes to balancing old and new friends, a big issue is time. It’s not an infinite resource and you’ll have a lot on your plate at college, like schoolwork, extracurriculars, and keeping in touch with family. Patel suggests saving yourself the time of having two completely separate social lives by getting your friends—old and new—together, “to study or throw a viewing party for an event.” Having a common goal, whether it’s acing your chem final or rooting for a sports team, is a great way for your old and new friends to bond.

Don’t Build Your College Life Around Old Friends

When Jennifer Lynn started college at William Paterson University, close to her New Jersey hometown, her best friend and her older sister were in a lot of classes together because they were education majors. Not wanting to feel left out, she enrolled in the same courses, only to realize she had no interest in teaching. She’s changed her major and now she may not graduate on time.

“I wanted friends to study with, but I ended up studying things that were a waste of my time. I could have just made friends with people in the courses I actually wanted to take,” she says.

Meeting new people is a big part of what makes college such a great experience, and there’s a lot of comfort in old friends. Finding the right balance of forging new relationships while maintaining your roots will make your college life richer and more dynamic.

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