How To Be a Good Friend in College

Posted: January 25, 2022 | Author: Abbie Cochrane | Read Time: 6 minutes

being a good friendCollege is a time when you find your people and you learn how to support them. If one of your friends is openly or internally struggling, don’t hesitate to be there for them. And if you are unsure how to be a good friend and support them through a challenge, try one or more of the techniques below.

8 Ways to Support Your Friends

Work, school, other relationships, missing home, personal difficulties, and mental health struggles are among some of the things that your friends may be going through right now. It may be easy for them to put on a happy face and silently deal with it, however, learning how to be a good friend is important and college is a great time to learn how to be a supportive friend in stressful environments.

Pay Attention

People often keep their difficulties to themselves out of fear that they are a burden or that no one wants to hear about them. If you start to notice your friend’s behavior change, ask them if everything is okay. Their natural answer will be, “Sure, everything is fine.” Don’t nag, but let them know that you are there for them if they want to talk. Be sure to check up on them often. When you ask someone how they are doing, really pay attention to their answer. This shows that you have a genuine interest in their life and you want to know what they’ve been up to.

Support Them

If something good happens in their life, be genuinely happy for them. When they accomplish something, be there to cheer them on and tell them how proud you are of them. Don’t compare yourself to them. Be their shoulder to cry on and a listening ear during hard times. Validate their feelings during an argument and don’t jump to conclusions. Friends stick around and make time for each other.

Don’t Make it All About You

Make sure you aren’t venting to your friend all the time, as that can be emotionally draining for both of you. Ask them about their day and if they need your help with anything. When they feel upset, don’t immediately relate a personal experience in an attempt to prove similarity. Instead, genuinely listen to them. A good friendship requires balance.

Take Time for Them

Keep up those traditions, go out to dinner together, get together with those elementary school friends who you only see once a year. If you make plans, don’t ditch them last minute for a seemingly “better offer” with someone else. It’s less about frequency and more emphasis on consistency. People can stay friends and not see each other every day.

Know When to Let Them Be

Sometimes a hug isn’t enough to brighten someone’s mood. So the next time your friend is upset, ask them if they want a hug. If they say no, respect their answer and tell them you’re there if they change their mind. Knowing when to leave someone alone is also important in a friendship. Remember, not everyone needs you to “fix” things. Sometimes a person needs a minute to themselves to think. The most important thing is being there for them when they are ready to open up. People aren’t going to turn to you if you’re never there for them.

Resolve Conflict in a Healthy Way

Friends fight, that’s just how it goes sometimes. As you work through conflict with a friend, do so in a constructive way. The key to a healthy argument is the beginning. If you don’t have a strong start, the conversation can spiral out of control very quickly.

Identify the complaint, not the criticism. Instead of saying “You never hang out with me and you’re never there when I need you,” try expressing your feelings by asking yourself what brought you to this point? Was it when they had to cancel movie night because they were busy? Let them know. “I was sad that we couldn’t hang out the other night because I was excited to spend time with you.” If the roles are reversed, apologize sincerely and ask them what you can do to be better.

When resolving conflict, don’t use phrases that start with “you.” These tend to lead to an accusation based on blame or criticism.

Be aware of your physical reaction; meaning, don’t give off any unintentional vibes with an eye roll or folding your arms. Open body language promotes an honest conversation.

Try to deescalate the situation. If you both start spewing insults at each other, it’s less likely that the argument will be resolved. Validate their feelings. Tell them that their concerns matter to you and you want to make up. Try starters like “I hear what you’re saying…,” “What if we tried…,” and “How can we move past this?”


The first thing you learn as a little kid in grade school is how to say sorry when you hurt someone’s feelings. If you do something that makes your friend upset, don’t get defensive or justify your actions. Apologize, explain why what you did was wrong, and ask for forgiveness. However, if they are expecting you to apologize for something that isn’t worth asking forgiveness, don’t over apologize. If you value your friendship more than being in the right, then you can apologize, even if the offense was little to none.

Love Them Without Judgment

The best part of any friendship is the connection you build. As time goes on, people may change and grow. Help your friends grow and change. Expect the best out of each other and love them in those times when changing can be difficult. Understand that change is hard and that the best thing you can do is support them and be there when they need you. Let your friend know you are thinking of them, and share your thoughts with them to foster a connection like no other.


One more thing to remember is that it’s important to be a good friend to yourself. Know your limits and your boundaries, and make them known when they come into question. A friendship is a responsibility, and that responsibility must be carried equally by all parties involved. If a friendship is taking too much from you and not enough from the other person, maybe it’s time to evaluate matters. You don’t deserve to feel guilty for another person not putting in an effort. Remember, that it’s okay to say no, even to your friends.

Of course, each friendship is different and some tactics might work better than others. It’s up to you to figure out which approach to use and how to be a good friend for each individual relationship. Help support your friends in college and after, and let them know when you could use their support. Life is certainly better with friends!

Tags: Mental Health Student Life CAPS

Related Posts