I am in the unique position of having attended to two colleges. I decided that if six figures were going to be spent on an education, the program I was attending should not make me cry every Sunday night. Transferring was difficult, but in the end I wound up with two groups of friends that I am still in touch with to this day. (#Brag.) I am here to say that I highly recommend staying in touch with college friends after graduation. (Well, that is, if you like said friends!)
College friendships are unlike other friendships. It's probably one of the first times you really get to find your "people." College is often the first time you make friends on your own accord, rather than because you "grew up next to each other," or "played youth soccer together." Yes, you spend plenty of time playing beer pong with your freshman year hall-mates through November, but you probably never see them again. (Unless you happen to be lucky enough to have been assigned to a room with your forever BFFs.) For the most part, you're going to end up making friends out of mutual connection and common interests, not just convenience.
College relationships are also distinct in that they are hot-and-heavy. Yes, I just said "hot-and-heavy" — stay with me. Like jumping into a lusty relationship, college friendships happen over a short span of time, and involve spending a borderline gross amount of time together. You eat meals together. You study together. You probably throw up after a frat party together. You're probably even living together. You LOVE each other!
How could you not be eternally bonded after spending your senior year sleeping next to each other in twin beds because the most in-demand senior housing were these weird, beer-soaked townhouses called The Mods?! (Shout out to Boston College!)
That said, I am not friends with all of my college pals to this day, nor am I friends with all of my high school or childhood friends. Some friendships just don't pan out. Sh*t happens. People grow apart. People move. People get involved with work friends. People get lazy. And sometimes, people just ditch you for their new boyfriends or girlfriends. (I won't shout this college friend out, but that hurt big time.)
While I don't think you need to force a friendship from college to last forever, I do think staying friends with your college friends is incredibly important... and special. The friends from college that I love and who love me too are still in my life regularly, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Your college friends know you during a particularly large transition in your life — the jump from childhood to adulthood. In my case, my college friends also knew me during an incredibly strange transition — the jump from one college to another. It was tough to make friend halfway through sophomore year, and also maintain friendships from my first school. In the end, my post-transfer friends opened their friend circles, dorm rooms, and hearts to me, and that meant a lot to me during such a weird time.
I'm also grateful for my college friends from both NYU and Boston College because they've seen me through so many stages of my life, and can provide incredibly insight and support when I wonder, "why haven't I been more successful in my career?!" or "why am I so stressed?"
My mom was diagnosed with cancer my freshman year of college and beat it once during the year I transferred, before being re-diagnosed two years after I graduated school. Having friends from all stages of my life who understood the journey, knew my mom, and could support me was the only way I could keep my head above water most days. When my mom passed last year, having the support of these close friendships helped keep me from completely drowning.
And even if nothing traumatic happens during your post-grad years (which I sincerely hope is the case), it's still nice to have people who understand what your college experience was like. Not to mention, people who are more than happy to vouch for you, show up to that fundraiser you're hosting, or arrange an introduction to the hiring manager for that job you covet.
Of course, if you grow up and find that your college friends were not meant to be your forever friends, you can certainly move on. But I would encourage you to look back on your college friendships the way you might look at a childhood friendship, or even a sibling – yes, as you grow up, you may have your differences, but you're also going to understand certain things about each others' lives and experiences that no new work or adult dodgeball league friends are going to get.
Maintaining your college friendships are like maintaining a succulent — the longer you can keep them around, the more beautiful they'll get. I rarely get that cheesy and metaphorical, but I really love my college friends. Even when we have busy lives and forget to catch up. Every time we do, it's pretty amazing. Make being friends forever great again!