This is a guest post by Eliza Medley, a blogger and educator from Orlando.
There is this idea in society that you either get to enjoy yourself or you get to be successful. The idea that you can enjoy your way to success, or have friendships that make a big difference to being successful isn’t one that most people entertain.
And yet they’re dead wrong.
Friendships are vitally important to getting the most out of college and out of life. There are as many reasons as there are kinds of friendships.
Here we’re going to explore a few of them – some obvious college friendships, and some less so.
1. The Stress Relief Friendship.
College can be an incredibly stressful time. For that reason, you need to get somebody in your life who can make sure that this becomes unmanageable.
Even better, it’s been shown that people in better moods actually do better at work as well as school.
In his book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Actor talks about his time at Harvard.
He says there are two types of students, those who push people away when they get stressed and those that embrace other people. The results, he said, couldn’t be more obvious. Those that push people away are far more likely to drown than those who embrace other people.
The reason, he says, is that for the longest time we’ve been putting the cart in front of the horse. In order to be successful, we should strive to be happy, not the other way around.
And one of the most important ways that we can be happy is by having friends that we can talk to and whom we can share with. These are great for managing stress, for realizing that the problems we’re facing aren’t insurmountable and for pointing out the humor in life.
Then, with a smile on your face, you can go back to your studies and often find that what you thought was impossible before is a great deal easier if you just look at them differently.
2. The study buddy.
This is an obvious one.
For many people, studying is hard. When the research paper writing is killing you… When you can do it together with another person, it can be a lot easier.
You don’t even really need to communicate for this to be successful, as just having people in your environment who are studying can already do wonders for your concentrations.
Take it a step further, however, and it can make a world of difference. For example, you can use a study buddy to teach to, while they teach parts of what you’re learning back to you.
The advantages of such college friendships are many:
- You can get through material much quicker, as often having somebody explain something to you is faster than having to work through it yourself.
- Teaching something is the perfect way to make sure you really understand something, as the questions that you get asked need to be answered.
- By changing up how you take in information (from reading to listening) you’re able to keep going for longer without getting bored.
- If you’ve got a deadline that you’ve got to teach something by, then you’ve got an extra bit of motivation to get what you’re trying to do done on time.
For this reason, a study buddy can make a huge difference.
In fact, why stop at one study buddy? Why not have a study group?
They can be incredibly useful for bouncing ideas off of and to get the academic help you need. What’s more, these types of friendships can be meaningful for decades after college.
3. The Connectors.
In life it isn’t just what you know, it’s also who you know. And it doesn’t matter how smart you are if you don’t know anybody it’s going to be damned hard to get very far.
For that reason, you need to make sure that you’ve got people in your life who are good at meeting people.
In his book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell calls these people Connectors and he says they make a huge difference.
Often they’re very good at spotting new trends and new ideas. That makes sense, after all, they see a much bigger sample of the population than most of us do. For that reason, they get a far more representative sample of what is going on.
The great thing about knowing a connector (if you aren’t one yourself) is that they can introduce you to exactly the right people.
That can mean that you get the internship that you need, that you find the study buddy that you’re looking for or that you get to go to a star professor’s personal little surrey and from there perhaps a position in their lab.
Even better, after you’re done with school knowing these people can become even more useful. They’ll know where you can apply for jobs, who you can talk to about getting loans.
What’s more, they just happened to have met somebody who might be a perfect partner for your new startup. In such cases, college friendships can lead directly to business opportunities.
4. The idealists.
There are two ways to go about getting the grades you need to pass (with honors or otherwise). The strategic way and the deep learning way.
The strategic way is where you learn the information in order to get the grades and get the piece of paper. The deep learning way is where you’re learning the information because you’re actually interested in what you’re learning and the grades are secondary.
Interestingly enough, you’d think that the first way would be more effective, but it’s the second way that turns out to be more so.
This is because the information sticks around longer and gets incorporated into your knowledge base more effectively.
Enter the idealist. These are the types of friends that care deeply about the world and making a difference.
They study things not because they want to race courses, but because they want to learn what they need to in order to make a difference. Everything they learn is placed in relation to themselves and this makes it far more meaningful.
Even better, when you have these types of people in your life, then they’ll start changing how you look at information as well. They give you new insights and passion for learning. That, in turn, allows you to move from strategic learning to deep learning and thereby ultimately do better in school.
5. The shared interest friend.
Another great college friend to have is one who has a shared interest. It doesn’t matter what this interest is. It can be botany, jazz music or abseil. As long as you have something that you’re both interested in and both care deeply about, these friendships can be incredibly motivating.
Maybe both of you want to be lifestyle designers after college. That will help with the action part if you’ll be supporting and motivating each other all the time.
In many ways, these are a lot like stress relief friends, except that in this case, the friendship turns around something that is important to you.
So why do these types of college friendships matter? It’s quite straightforward, really.
Interest has been shown to be incredibly good for recharging the batteries, but we quite often let it slide nonetheless because our workload gets too big. The thing is, though that might occasionally be okay to do, you can’t do it too often.
But when you have a friend who shares your passion, that’s far less likely to happen.
That means you’re going to make time to do the things that you love. Which in turn will remind you why you do the things that you do.
In this way, when you come back to your studies, you’ll be recharged, reenergized and rearing to go. That will make it far more likely that you’ll actually be able to survive the years that you’re in college and get the grades without sacrificing your sanity.
Friendship is one of the most important things we get in life. Many people think they’re even more important than relationships.
What’s more, the people that you meet in college can last you a lifetime. So don’t sacrifice them at the altar of success. Particularly, since doing so will almost inevitably lead to failure.
Of course, it’s important that you have the right friends.
There are plenty of friends who can actually make your time at university less productive. These are the people that constantly talk you away from your work and from missing your deadlines. These are the stoners, the skippers, and the losers.
Now, I’m not saying these are always bad to have. Sometimes it’s okay to embrace life and momentarily forget about academia. What you’ve got to make sure of, though, are that these friends aren’t the only ones you’ve got.
For who you primarily associate with is who you become and the last thing in life that you want to do is become a failure. After all, life is far too short for regret so make sure you have enough friends that help you boost your life.
What college friendships have you formed, and which one do you think is most important?
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