Whether you’re getting ready to head back for your senior year or gearing up for freshman orientation, maintaining meaningful relationships with your parents, siblings and friends while away at school may seem like a tall order. With classes and new relationships with college friends to focus on, it’s easy to neglect the very people we’ve known the longest.
If the thought of juggling two worlds and struggling to maintain important relationships from a distance seems overwhelming to you, fear not! Some simple techniques can help you make time for those you care about and sustain fruitful relationships that will survive the transition to college.
Time is limited – especially in college, where you may already be sacrificing sleep just to fit in all of the studying, extracurricular activities, classes and parties that you have on your plate. It may be hard to accept at first as you transition to college, but you are only human, and you can only realistically do so much. That includes keeping in touch with people back home.
You can’t expect to have time to call your parents and chat with all of your friends every day. That being said, use the time that you do have wisely. Get your priorities straight and use your free time to talk with family and your closest friends.
One idea, is to set aside a designated amount of time one day each week to call home or catch up with friends. For instance, maybe every Sunday at 4 PM is when you call your folks to update them on your weekly doings.
Don’t waste precious minutes (or hours) Facebook-stalking everyone from high school. If you do happen to be a popular Peter or social Sally though, and have a lot of people you would like to keep in touch with, this next tip is for you.
2. Send group emails.
Think of it as your own personal newsletter. Rather than taking the time to send individual emails to each of your family members and friends about what is going on in your life at college, keep everyone up-to-date on the latest happenings with a group email. You would likely be repeating the same information if you were to write a separate email to each person anyway, so why waste your time?
3. Video chat.
If you’re someone who prefers talking to people face-to-face rather than on the telephone or by email, this is a great alternative. Video chat can go a long way in maintaining an important long-distance relationship, whether with your parents or a significant other. It’s more personal than emails and Facebook messages and can make you feel like you’re actually in the same room as the other person.
It’s also often quicker than taking the time to write out an email, and you can usually invite multiple people to chat at once. For instance, if you’re bummed out about your closest group of friends heading to different corners of the country as you make the transition to college, you can all agree on a set time each week to take a break from your studying and chat.
4. Coordinate your breaks.
Breaks are a great time to play catch-up and attend to your relationships with the people you do not get to see while away at college. As you decide on what to do for your winter, spring or summer break, talk to your friends and family and try to coordinate your plans. While it may be fun to head to Cancun with your new college buddies, it may actually be more enjoyable and more fruitful in the long run to head home and spend some quality time with your parents and childhood friends – and it will also likely save you a lot of money!
Another idea, if your school breaks don’t line up with those of your friends, is to go visit them at their colleges. Not only is this a great opportunity to catch up and hang out, but it will also allow you to feel part of each other’s new lives, as you finally see first-hand everything you’ve been describing to each other over email or chat.
5. Invite people to visit.
In addition to visiting your friends at their colleges, consider inviting people to come visit you. Friends will likely be more than glad to take a break from their routines to come experience life on your campus for a long weekend or holiday. Parents and other family members also appreciate the occasional invitation to visit and take part in your new life at college. If you have a big game, a concert or a play coming up, this is the perfect opportunity to invite your loved ones!
6. Don’t stress!
Staying in touch with those you love should never become a burden or source of constant stress and anxiety. Relationships, while they certainly take some work to maintain, should ultimately be enjoyable – not solely about obligations.
While you definitely want to keep your parents and friends in the loop, your life shouldn’t revolve around them. College is all about discovery and growth – getting out there, learning new things, meeting new people and getting to know the real you. This is your time, and if your friends and family really care about you, they will understand if you occasionally go a week or two without calling.
As you prepare to head off to college and make the transition from adolescence to adulthood, keep these tips in mind to maintain strong and meaningful relationships with the people you care about, whether it be your parents, friends or a significant other. While the transition to college is definitely an opportunity to spread your wings and expand your horizons, it does not mean you have to give up on the relationships you have been developing throughout your life.