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Understanding Peer Pressure in College: Why Fitting in Can Sometimes Hurt

By HERWriter
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Besides academics, college is known as a place to find tons of friends.

What people sometimes forget to mention is that it’s also a place to find yourself, and sometimes this means losing friends who don’t share the same values and gaining others who do. The process can get even stickier before the gaining and losing stage with peer pressure and the desire for acceptance.

I know from my own experience that sometimes values can be compromised, especially when you’re trying to fit in and escape the loneliness that can happen when others don’t share the same values and morals.

Haley Geddes, a psychology intern at the University of Washington’s Counseling Center, said some reasons that friendships in college are different from high school and earlier are because the environment lacks the same amount of structure and there are people from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Also, college-age students sometimes come in with unrealistic expectations, like making the best friends of their life, and that can cause some anxiety.

“People come in expecting to make those life-long friends right away, to be involved in all kinds of social activities right away, and the truth is that it can be much more challenging to find that, and it takes some time for people to settle into college, and it’s never going to be the way that our cultural story is of it, that you see in movies,” Geddes said.

She said peer pressure can be a problem for some students.

“When you’re coming into a new environment and you don’t know anybody and you’re really wanting to have that sense of connection and find your place and find that group of people, that there is a little bit more inclination to do what the group is wanting to do in order to fit in,” Geddes said.

Parents might not be as involved with their students in college, so the students might be more likely to then bend to peer pressure and engage more in activities involving alcohol, drugs and sex.

For students who do have issues with peer pressure, Geddes said she helps them “gain some trust in themselves and clarify what their values are,” as well as being respectively assertive about how they feel.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.