As we get closer and closer to graduation, I’ve seen more and more of my classmates start isolating themselves from the rest of us. If you ask them why, they’ll say they don’t have time for friends. They say they’d rather focus on their schoolwork so they can improve their grades. If you ask me, I say this isn’t the correct way to organize your life.

Everybody, including the most introverted introverts, needs human interaction, even if it’s just for five minutes a week. After being alone for some time we start to crave it, to feel like we may go insane without it. This is one of the reasons why being in a traditional school vs an online school is a good idea. When you start to cut yourself off from your friends to focus on schoolwork, you’re simply removing a vital contribution to your mental stability.

Friends can be some of the most important people in your life. Not only are they a support system in times of need, but they also function as a great stress relief tactic. Yes, you can’t keep in contact with everyone, but the friends you make and lose during your formative years play an enormous part in shaping you into the person you’re meant to be, whether you realize it or not.

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Friends you meet in school are probably the only ones who will ever understand the kinds of issues you face that result from school. Being in the same system and taking the same classes gives them a much better understanding of your stress and anxiety and what you need to relieve them. Nobody else, even a student of your same age from a different school, may be able to understand those kinds of things.

Laughter has been scientifically proven to improve brain performance and mood stability. What’s the best way to induce laughter? Having fun with friends! At the end of a stressful week, setting aside an hour or two to spend time with a few friends can help you relieve some tension and gives you a break from the boring routine of school, homework, sleep.

We’re living in a time where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a good university and to maintain good grades. So isolating yourself from everyone else and focusing solely on your academics may not seem like such a bad idea. But when it’s graduation day and you want to celebrate with someone who understands your joy, you’ll have nobody. When it’s halfway through the semester and you feel like you might need to rip your hair out, you want to be able to vent to someone. When you’be been to your third college admissions interview and things aren’t looking to good, you’ll want to talk to someone who’s in the same boat as you, to feel like you’re it alone.

Relationships formed by choice are just as strong, if not more, than those formed by blood. You’re choosing to stick by someone through good and bad times. You’re choosing to let someone into your life, so they can keep you company and share your experiences. It’s risky, but it’s worth it. Friends are so much more important than anyone ever makes it seem. Unfortunately, very few people actually realize this before they’re alone.