Cultivating Friendships: How to Be a Good Friend

Most people walk away from college with a well-rounded education, a diploma, a job (hopefully), perhaps a spouse and definitely a network of lifelong friends. Whether you’re a current student or a 1965 graduate approaching your 50 year reunion, you’re probably nodding and thinking, “Yep. I made some of the best friends of my life in college.”

So what exactly is it about college that makes it the perfect venue to cultivate lifelong friendships? College is a time in life when there is much shaping and molding of students’ values, interests and personalities. These changes are often tough, and the people with whom you experience them become your biggest support system.

We talked with several students and staff members about what qualities they feel build a great friendship. These tips will guide you as you make friends and will help you be a better friend.

  1. Low Maintenance – Sarah Hartsfield, junior business administration major, says that she values friends that truly care about her and her life’s demands. These are friends who wouldn’t make you feel bad if you missed a coffee date, and when you do get together it’s like you were never apart.
  2. Transparency – An honest, trustworthy friend is important to both Andrew Graham, junior art major, and Luke Pennington, senior DMS major. You always need someone to pour your frustrations out to, and not every friend is equipped to handle it. You need someone who can console you, but who can also tell you to get a grip if that’s what you really need.
  3. Support – Graham also points out that you need friends who are going through the same things that you are, because they often provide the support and advice that can help you through common struggles.
  4. Good Listener – This is a big one for a lot of people. Rachel Wukasch, senior family studies major, says friendship is a two-way street, and she values the friends she has that listen when she needs them. She in turn strives to be fully engaged when her friends need her to be the listener.
  5. Trustworthy – Wukasch also notes that a good listener is only really valuable if he or she is also trustworthy. A good confidante won’t spill the beans about your secret crush.
  6. Quality Time – This one is a little different from the others as it’s not a trait, but it is something that helps form a good friendship. Karen Taylor, associate director of student leadership and engagement, says that whether you spend quality time together once a week or once a year, that quality time helps you build memories and establishes a long-term relationship.
  7. Accountability – How many times have you tried to form a habit such as eating more vegetables or daily Bible reading, only to quit after a week? This is where your friends come in. Jared Dauenhauer, assistant director of student leadership and engagement, values the friends in his life that challenge him and keep him accountable. He admits that his wife is a master at this. She is constantly pushing him to be better. He added that understanding each other’s personality and sensibility helps because you instinctively know when to push and when to lay off.

We’ll leave you with a simple slideshow. In it you’ll see alumni and current students with their friends from college, some of whom have been friends for decades now. As Morgan Kroeger, senior accounting major, put it, “Friendship is celebrating every birthday, Christmas, or simple moments together. Friendship is made in the classroom through lab partners or on the sidelines cheering each other on.” We couldn’t agree more!

We’d love to hear from you about your college friendships. Are you still in touch with the friends you made at Union University?

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