When I was growing up, I was told that there would come a time when I would go off to college and leave behind my friends at the time.

In fact, when I reached high school, I even heard from my parents that I wouldn’t even keep in touch with said friends. That was just an unbelievable thought to me. I couldn’t fathom how I could possibly leave my friends that I grew up with, much less not even keep in touch with them.

It all came true, but it worked out for the best, because my friends in my senior year of high school were replaced with a family that I now have in my senior year of college. I don’t think there is even another way to describe the people I have come to know and love over these last three and a half years.

**Rough Nights**

Let’s face it, we have all had nights where we have too many drinks and made poor choices. Friends take you home and give you a bottle of water, but family takes you to Waffle House and gives you Advil. See the difference?

**Partners in Crime**

A huge part of college is taking risks, and finding the right person to take it all on with is just as much fun as the adventures. Sure, you could go out for the night in high school, but the freedom and spontaneousness of a night out in college with your best friend is something special. Whether it’s hiding in a storm shelter during bad weather or hiding from police after a party, it’s always better with your closest friend.

**Study Buddies**

All-nighters are all right with the right people by your side. A night spent pouring over books with coffee breaks and unhealthy snacks is worthwhile. Besides, calling out notecards for three straight hours isn’t so bad… right?

**Maturity**

People change, and in four or more years, we all grow up a great deal. As you become more independent, your friends become friends of choice, and they are with you through some of the biggest changes of your life. They appreciate your successes, and walk with you through your sadness.

College tests the best of friendships, but cultivates them into some of the greatest fellowships that life can have. As you encounter struggles, overcome difficulties, and enjoy victories, never forget the people who were by your side through all of it.

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