How to Tell Your Friend You Don't Want to Go to the Same College

on October 7, 2016

If you’re like many high schoolers, at one point you had a vision: you and your best friend, boxes in hand and your parents a few yards behind you, stepping onto your college campus for the first time. You probably sat around a camp fire one summer, or on your bed listening to your favorite song one afternoon, and talked about the wild adventures the two, or three, or four of you would have all together in an eclectic college apartment as young adults facing the world on your own.

But more often than not, when the time comes to formally enroll, things change. You may have taken a shot at a dream school across the country, and in return, was awarded a great scholarship. You might decide you want to pursue a pre-med degree, a major that isn’t offered at the arts school you had all planned to attend.

Finding yourself in this position is extremely tough for high school students. On the one hand, you don’t want to disappoint your friends, or have them mad at you, especially now that you might not see them much in the next four years. On the other hand, this is your future, and you don’t want to compromise it for the sake of making someone else happy.

Here’s a few ways you can open up a dialogue with your best friend, or group of friends, about wanting to attend a school other than the one you had initially planned.

An Emphasis on Your Future

One of the most important aspects of this conversation will be about what you want for your future. By explaining everything you will personally gain from going to your college as opposed to the one you had planned with your friends, they are more likely to see your reasons for taking this opportunity. The best of friends will want what’s best for you, no matter what.

An Emphasis on Your Friendship

The other most important aspect of this conversation will be about how you plan to handle your friendships. Obviously, your friends don’t want to lose you. They won’t be happy to discover you won’t be embarking on the same journey as them. Have a couple of ideas prepared ahead of time, so when they ask you questions such as, “When will I see you?” or when they make statements such as, “We’ll never get to talk to you,” you have a response that will make them more accepting of the situation.

When Your Reasons Are Tricky

Sometimes your reasons for wanting to attend a different school than your friends are far more difficult to explain than something like “one has my major and the other doesn’t.” You might want to go to another school because you want this chance to be on your own. Maybe this decision was made because you want to break away from your friends. When this is the case, you may be better off by explaining that this is simply something you have to do, and that you hope they respect your decision. Again, trust that your true lifelong friends will understand.

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