Why Do College Friendships Endure?

Author: Lynn Carroll, C’93

I’ve enjoyed getting to know alumni from the classes of the 1930s all the way through to recent graduates.  Mildred CW’44 had lunch with the same group of classmates every month for more than 50 years.  Dick C’59 comes to Penn every year to get out on the ice with his hockey teammates.  The “alumni song” at the end of a Bloomers show brings on more tears than an episode of “Parenthood.”  Much has changed about college—and Penn—in the past century, but one thing is universal:  college friendships that stand the test of time.

Why are these friendships so intense and enduring?  What makes that person we sit next to in Psych 101 so important to our lives, whereas a decade later, coworkers of 5 years or more are mere acquaintances?

Some various theories – feel free to weigh in with your opinions!

–          While at college, we become who we are; those who share the journey with us earn a special place in our hearts

–          From age 18-22 we are open to new ways of looking at the world, and therefore more likely to be “imprinted” by those around us, similar to infant birds

–          As we grow older, we are more guarded and cautious in our relationships, and are unwilling to allow others to see us as vulnerable

Do you still have friends from your days at Penn, and do you expect they’ll remain your friends for your lifetime?  Give them a shout out in the comments, and then forward a link to this blog their way.  They’ll probably do the same for you in 25 years or so.penn-best-friend-button



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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Lynn Carroll

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