5 Ways to Maintain College Friendships in Post-Grad Life
Updated: Jul 14
Post-grad life comes at you FAST! WHEW. After a four-year run of having all your friends in the same city, and sometimes just one bedroom away, we are in for a rude awakening when we all cross that stage and chart new paths in different directions.
After I graduated from FAMU in 2015, I stayed in Tallahassee and began grad school at Florida State. But between 2015 and 2017, the nearest and dearest of my friendships formed in undergrad were with people who were relocating all across the country; Chicago, D.C., Atlanta, Miami, Arkansas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. I still had a few close friends who were local, but one day I looked up and realized that I could count on one hand how many of them were still just a car ride away.
To be honest, this was a very lonely season for me. I could no longer link up with my friends on a whim, pop up at their house and hang out, or have the luxury of living with my friends/line sisters. No more group birthday dinners, random sleepovers, or having a buddy to go to the nail salon or mall with on a Saturday morning. At the same time, even for me and my friends who were still local, we didn't necessarily have the flexibility of hanging out, staying up late, etc. anymore. This is because even though our geographic location didn't change, the mental space we were in did. We were now working/in grad school, had real bills, and were becoming acclimated with adulting for real for real.
In addition to relocating/the new space of being career-driven professionals, some of my friends were getting married, having babies, etc. As wonderful as these things are, they are life transitions that require a greater capacity of our friends' time and attention. So, how do you maintain friendships post-grad? When you can't hang out as much, can't talk as much, and don't have as much energy as you did when you were 19, unemployed, and had a net check to pay all of your bills.
Tip #1: Whenever They Cross Your Mind, Send a Text.
We can't always stop what we're doing to have an in-depth conversation, but what we can do is pick up our phones and send a message saying, "Hey! You just crossed my mind. Just wanted tell you that I love and miss you!" Sweet and simple. It lets your friend know they're on your mind and in your heart even though you may not have spoken in a while, and it keeps you from tabling reaching out simply because you don't have the time to catch up in the moment you think about them. Sidenote: One thing I also try to do is show love on social media. I'm always responding to my friends' stories and commenting on their pics.
Tip #2: Virtual Date Night
So you can't go out to dinner? No problem. Grab your AirPods, your iphone, and get a cheap phone stand on Amazon that you can sit your phone on at the table as you eat, drink, and catch up with your best friend(s). Set a date well in advance so you each have it on your calendars and plan to be both mentally and socially present on said date at said time! When this pandemic is over, you could even go to the same chain restaurant in your respective cities, and it'll be like you're having the same dining experience. Do you and your friend like to cook? Take a stab at making the same recipe and eating the same meal while you dine at home.
Tip #3: Go the Extra Mile for Their Birthday
I haven't been to a birthday dinner for one of my undergrad friends since like 2017, and that's because I happened to be flying out of Atlanta where my line sister and friend Melanie lived. Once I realized I'd be in town on her birthday, I was so excited about being able to celebrate with her for the first time in like 3 years. That being said, living states away from your friends comes with not being able to be there for every birthday anymore. This is why going the extra mile to make sure they feel the love means so much. Now, I have not been on top of this! Only as of recently have I given more thought to it, because of this friendship series. So to all my friends reading this blog, don't side-eye me LOL But it's definitely something I hope to be more intentional about in the future.
Here are some things you can do:
Say Happy Birthday as early as possible. If you can wake up at 12 AM, great! But if you can't, reach out first thing in the morning. Don't let 12 PM come and you still haven't told your friend Happy Birthday.
Show love on social media. It's easy and free!
Send a physical card OR virtual e-card. If it's in your budget, throw a $20 bill or e-gift card in there.
Send Flowers. Because who doesn't love flowers?
Have a birthday cake or cupcakes delivered.
Send a small cash app love offering with a thoughtful note, "Lunch for the Birthday girl!"
If you share a mutual group of friends, work together to send a group gift. Have everyone go in on the flowers, lunch meal or cake, birthday nails, birthday hair, or any gift that you know your friend would love/needs.
Tip #4: Schedule Routine FaceTimes
By adding social hours to your calendar, you don't have to find the time, because you've already made it. Depending on your schedule, you may be able to commit to this once a week, but if both you and your friend(s) have competing schedules, try committing to a FaceTime convo once every two weeks on a day and time that works for the both of you. Now, this doesn't mean you don't talk in between, but having a routine helps reinforce your commitment to being consistent.
Tip #5: Commit to Linking Up In Person at Least Once a Year
Now, running into your friends in your college town during Homecoming does not count. lol Even when I see my friends at Homecoming, we all have different itineraries. Plan one time out of the year that is exclusively devoted to spending time with your friends. This could be a
group cruise, road trip, attendance at a festival, or weekend in the city where one of you lives. You could even switch the location each year based on where each of you live, and take turns hosting. Y'all got money? Secure the flights sis and take a trip overseas! We all love a good girls trip!
Bonus: Maintain a Group Text Thread
You may not be able to catch up with everyone individually, but conversing in a group thread with mutual friends can be a one stop shop. I talk in my group text threads way more than the individual ones and I thoroughly enjoy our conversations. Several of my friends are in one place and we have a ball.