The Best Ways to Write a Goodbye Letter to a Friend Going to College

Include the past, present and future in your letter.
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The teen years are full of firsts and lasts, from your first date to the last day of high school. Life is packed with changes that seem to come faster and more furiously the older you get. If a good friend is leaving town for college, you might wonder how you will survive without that person in your life. Writing a goodbye letter gives you the opportunity to work through your own feelings while providing that person with a lasting memento of the time you shared.

1 Staying Positive

You might have mixed feelings about your friend’s departure. It is normal to feel abandoned or to be frightened about the future, even if you are genuinely happy for your friend. The goodbye letter is not the place to express your anger. Stay positive and upbeat, focusing on the happy memories of the past and your belief that you will both find future joy. Of course, the letter will likely be bittersweet. Just avoid making attacks or accusations.

2 Reflecting on Your Friendship

Before you start writing, take some time to reflect on your friendship. Think about when you met the person. Maybe you were lonely and looking for a friend, or perhaps you were busy and content and had no idea you had room in your life for another person. Consider how you and your friend changed each other. This comrade might have introduced you to your now-favorite TV show or you might have passed on your knowledge of guitar playing. Think through the quiet moments and the major life changes that you went through together.

3 Structuring the Letter

Begin by acknowledging your friend’s upcoming departure. Next, state your thanks for the friendship. Explain how it helped you through tough times, made you a better person or otherwise improved your life. Divide the main body of the letter into three basic sections: past, present and future. Share your favorite memories and then talk about where things stand now. If you want to apologize or express regret for anything, this is the time. If you feel solid and comfortable with the present relationship, then make a few brief comments on current events. End this portion by acknowledging that you have separate futures. Confirm that you will always value and love your friend, whatever the future might hold for both of you.

4 Leaving the Door Open

Going off to college does not necessarily mean saying goodbye forever. In the modern world, text messages, video chatting and social media supplement traditional phone conversations, email and handwritten letters to keep people connected around the globe. While it is true that your friendship will change, it does not have to end entirely. At the same time, you both need to feel free to grow and develop during your college years, cultivating new friends and making major life decisions. In your conclusion, let your friend know that you are open to staying in touch without making demands or asking for promises that are not fair to either of you.

Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer specializing in disabled adventure travel. She spent 15 years working for Central Florida theme parks and frequently travels with her disabled father. Fritscher's work can be found in both print and online mediums, including She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Florida.