Friendships in and Beyond College

One of the best things about going to college is meeting new people. In fact, scholars who study college students have found that you’ll learn as much—or more—from other students you meet as you’ll learn from instructors. Although not everyone you hang out with will become a close friend, you will likely find a few relationships that are really special and might even last a lifetime.

Roommates

Adjusting to a roommate is a significant transition experience. You might make a lifetime friend or end up with an exasperating acquaintance you wish you’d never known. A roommate doesn’t have to be a best friend, just someone with whom you can share your living space comfortably. Furthermore, your best friend might not make the best roommate. In fact, many students have lost friends by rooming together.

With any roommate, it’s important to establish your mutual rights and responsibilities in writing. Many colleges provide contract forms that you and your roommate might find useful if things go wrong later.

If you have problems with your roommate, talk them out promptly. Talk directly—politely, but plainly. If problems persist or if you don’t know how to talk them out, ask your residence hall adviser for help; he or she is trained to help resolve roommate conflicts.

Usually, you can tolerate (and learn from) a less than ideal situation; but if things get really bad and do not improve, insist on a change. If you are on campus, talk to your residence hall adviser or to a professional counselor in your campus’s counseling center.

Social Media

Social networking Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter are very popular with college students. Although both positives and negatives are associated with using these sites, one thing is certain: Entering college students rarely examine what they post online, the effects their online statements have on others, and the benefits and pitfalls of using social networking sites.

Social networking Web sites are wonderful tools to help you keep connected to your family and friends. Facebook, which originally was only available to those at certain universities, now has more than one billion active users each month. As the demographics of Facebook users has changed and its significance in our daily lives has become clear, many schools now use Facebook to connect with their students. In addition to the college’s official page, libraries, academic departments, sports teams, student clubs, and even special events will have their own Facebook pages. It is a useful way to keep up with events on campus. Also, Facebook isn’t only for fun and games. Many professors use Facebook in their classes as well. Some hold formal discussion groups or post assignments online, while others just encourage class members to connect with each other to discuss assignments, due dates, and so forth.

ONLINE PRIVACY

1. The Problem

You’re open and honest with just about everyone online.

2. The Fix

Carefully manage your online persona to ensure that it sends the appropriate message to the world.

3. How to Do It

1. Honesty is the best policy. But oversharing is not, especially in the digital age. This rule goes double for students. Graduate school admissions directors are apt to look you up online. Likewise, companies are constantly rummaging the Web for information on potential employees. Don’t be like that one “evil” character on reality shows who claims that they are a really nice person and were just misrepresented when the footage landed in the hands of the editors.

2. The best way to manage your image online is to be proactive and aware. Make sure that your privacy settings on Facebook are up to par. For instance, if you list your birthday, don’t put the year. Don’t express any controversial opinions that could work against you. Restrict your photos to friends only. If you find yourself tagged in a compromising picture that makes you look like an idiot or a drunkard, address it right away. You want to show the world that you’re a responsible, go-getting genius. Party animal is not the moniker you’re seeking.

It’s not that you cannot be yourself, but you want to be a version of yourself that you will be proud to have associated with you for the rest of your life. Remember that once you put something online, it is public forever, regardless of your privacy settings or if you take it down. You have very little control of what happens to material after you make it public.

3. Delete old accounts: If you have MySpace, LiveJournal, Blogger, or any other account that is still open to the public but not being updated, delete it. Not only do these accounts include out-of-date information and possibly tales of your middle-school crushes, but because you rarely if ever check those sites, you may not notice if your account has been hacked. The last thing you want is an employer to find a site full of spam and questionable promotional links.

4. Stay one step ahead: Google yourself regularly, especially when applying for jobs or graduate schools. Make sure that you know what potential employers can see. Look into free services like kgbPeople that can dig up every mention of you online, drawing from regular search engines, social networks, and other video and photo sites. For more information on protecting your virtual reputation, visit http://blog.kgbpeople.com/.