The transition from secondary school to college can be a challenging rite of passage for anyone.
For starters, shortlisting your college options is already a daunting task, especially when your friends and family are giving you their two cents about where you should enrol.
To top it off, the painful thought of being separated from your besties who have been with you through thick and thin can seem like too much to bear. At which point, you might think, “Why go to different colleges when you can enrol in the same one?”
But hold that thought! Here’s why you should never follow your friends to college.
#1. Everyone has different needs
There are many considerations when choosing where to study, such as cost, location and the courses offered by the institution.
Is your chosen college and its courses within your parents’ budget? How far are you willing to travel to college every day for the next year or two? If you’re not taking public transport, how will you commute?
Besides these practical considerations, you should also ask yourself if the course is in line with your interests and passions, and if having a degree in that particular field will lead you to your chosen career path.
Are you willing to gamble on your future just because you’ll be more comfortable having a close friend in the same college as you?
#2. It’s a chance to broaden your horizons
Your friends might have played an integral role in shaping you into the person you are today. Despite that, college is the time for you to broaden your horizons — this means enjoying new experiences and making friends with those outside your social circle.
Picking a college means finding one that suits your needs and interests. It also gives you the freedom to pick the classes you want and to join clubs or societies you’re interested in without worrying what your friends think.
After all, college is a time for growth. It’s important to step out from your shell, make new friends, try new experiences and exercise your right to make an independent decision towards your tertiary education. You can’t grow if you confine yourself within the limits of your secondary school social circle.
College and uni is a time for you to grow as a person — you’re free to experiment and find yourself. I wouldn’t be who I am today if I had followed my friends to college! — Melissa M., 25
#3. Reinvent yourself and upgrade your life
College is the time to break free of your secondary school identity. For example, if you were a shy and introverted kid, you can take the opportunity to be the complete opposite in college!
However, a downside to having an old friend (or friends) tagging along with you to college is that it can put a damper on your plans to reinvent yourself. After all, you wouldn’t want your friends to question your new choice of clothes or appearance (e.g. wearing makeup when you never did before) or for attending parties when you were a homebody in the past.
Similar to a caterpillar that morphs into a butterfly, you want to be free from your old skin to be comfortable in your new one.
Having always kept to myself in secondary school, I decided to change that in university by joining my batchmates to parties. Through this, I found that I could thrive in a social setting. — Aaron F., 25
#4. Avoid jealousy among old friends
Moving into a new environment can bring many positive and negative changes into your life.
Similarly, while you may feel on top of the world to have your best friend by your side to take on college, what if, over time, your friendship begins to drift apart? You may find yourself spending more time with your new coursemates, or worse — what if your best friend despises your new company or resents the fact that you have suddenly become Mr or Miss Popular?
Jealousy can poison a friendship. Sometimes, we become possessive of our friends when we fear others may “take them away” from us. Going to different colleges can benefit your relationship as it gives both parties a chance to blossom and develop new friendships outside your old ones.
#5. Absence makes the heart grow fonder
This saying doesn’t only apply to romantic relationships.
Being apart from your friends for a length of time puts your friendship to the test — how far will you go to preserve a good friendship that stemmed from the good ol’ days of secondary (or, heck, primary) school?
In this day and age, there are many ways to keep in touch with old friends, so much so that it will feel like you never parted ways. With social messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook Messenger, you can always stay connected at any time of the day, even if you’re both in different states or countries.
Not only that, you’ll have so much to share and catch up on when you meet up with old friends and rehash old memories!
I make it a point to meet up with my school friends whenever they are in town. Every time we meet, we pick up where we left off as if we were back in our Form 5 classroom again.” — Alex K., 25
When discussing the future of your tertiary education, consider your own needs and wants first. Remember, you’ll be spending the next few years of your life at college, so be as thorough as you can before making a firm decision. After all, losing and making new friends is part of the college experience. Whatever that happens, have faith in yourself that you can rise above the challenges that lay ahead.