College friendships should be treasured

Mark Hammontree

We are now less than a month away from the end of the spring semester – just four weeks away from the end of exams, and for seniors, graduation. Thankfully, I’m just a junior, still holding on to another year of college, staving off the incessant invasion of “real life.” Still, I’ve been forced to become more conscious of just how quickly my time here at the University is passing by. When May rolls into Tuscaloosa, another group of close friends and classmates will be packing their belongings and leaving for new cities and higher pursuits.

This was of course the case last year and the year before. We all have friends who we’ve had to say goodbye to just as we were really getting to know them. Even from kindergarten, we’ve all had people come into our lives, only to move away or graduate or even just of all of a sudden get busy. That’s the nature of friendships; some last while some naturally fade. Too often though, we lose out on fostering relationships with others because of all the distractions and responsibilities that accompany college life. As we get closer and closer to graduation, our time to spend with friends disappears.

Sure, GPAs, extracurriculars and internships are important and worthwhile just as papers, projects and tests shouldn’t be ignored. College students have a lot going on, and when there’s not enough time to go around for reading 100 pages in a night, studying for a midterm and planning a student organization forum, something has to get cut.

Of course, it’s still possible to grow friendships while taking care of all our responsibilities, and it’s through our involvements that we meet new people. Still, it’s already April and I find myself wishing I had more time, not only with friends graduating this May, but also with the ones who will graduate with me next year and those who will still be here when I leave.

So, my advice to freshmen as you finish your first year is this: waste not. Things are only going to get busier from here on out. Time is only going to go by more quickly. Classes are going to get harder, commitments more demanding.

You’re going to meet many more people, and just as quickly, new friends will graduate and move on.

Spend the rest of your time here pouring everything you can into the friendships you make. Take spontaneous trips for ice cream. Go bowling. Play board games. Play drinking games. Talk about serious things, and talk about nothing.

A good friend can have a greater effect on your life than any grade you make or any plaque you get with your name on it.

And when friends do graduate and move away, do everything you can to keep in touch. Go visit on a weekend or over spring break, and pester them to come back to Tuscaloosa.

Good friends can be hard to come by, and college is the best time to cultivate these friendships. But the hourglass has already been tipped and the sand is running out.

Mark Hammontree is a junior majoring in secondary education – language arts. His column runs weekly.