College can be tough, but everyone knows that life is easier and much more enjoyable when you’re surrounded by good friends. Friends your own age are amazing and practical when starting college, and many of them will become your best friends for life. However, there’s another kind of best friend that has more wisdom, living experience, and advice than anyone in your class could possibly offer: an older friend. Whether you already knew someone from your high school as a pre-frosh or you find your person through O-week as your Orientation Leader or Greek life as your big, don’t underestimate the value of having an older best friend, and pay it forward by helping a younger Cornellian next year.


1She can be your older sibling and mentor.

Because you’re different ages, you can look up to her as a mentor more than you would a best friend your own age. She can inspire you to try new things and encourage you when you’re feeling down about something.


2He can answer your questions without making you feel stupid.

You will undoubtedly have hundreds of questions when starting your life at Cornell—ranging from the reputations of each dorm to which dining hall has the best food to how to best take notes for a particular class. An older best friend will have (at least) one more year of college under his belt and can help provide information without making you feel like an idiot for asking so many questions. He will love helping you, in fact, because that’s what friends are for.


3She can listen and give advice and perspective on your freshmen drama.

You’d be superhuman to progress through your first year of college without at least one instance of arguing with your roommate, friend group, or significant other. An older best friend can provide objective advice on how to deal with the situation because she’s not caught up in it, and she might even offer a more mature solution or idea.


4He can offer academic help and advice, even if he’s not in your major.

Although it’s a bonus if your older best friend happens to be studying the same thing as you, you can learn a lot from him even without this in common. Your older friend probably has dozens of connections to people his own age, and can put you in touch with someone who can answer your questions about which classes to take, which professors you must have, and which textbooks are actually required. Regardless of major, an older best friend can also help you with general studying guides as you adjust to college, like prelim tips or stories about how he dealt with a bad test grade.


5She knows what activities are best and would love to do them all again–with you.

Have you ever needed some ideas of how to fill a Saturday before prelim season begins? Have you always wanted to try one of the “161 Things to Do Before You Graduate” but haven’t gotten around to it? Your older best friend can tell you the fun things she did freshmen year–and what turned out to be a waste of time–so that you can plan yours wisely. Even better, your older best friend is another person to explore Ithaca with—from climbing the clock tower to getting lost on a hiking trail.


6She can also be your mom away from home.

Your older best friend doesn’t want you to get hurt and will check in with you frequently about how you’re doing. Just like a mother looks after her children, your friend might (lovingly) send you a “mom” text every once in awhile to make sure you have enough time for dinner or got back to your dorm safe last night.


7He can be your role model in college and beyond.

One of the best things about going away to college is the opportunity to make lifelong friendships with people you might not have otherwise ever met. Your older best friend can show you what it means to be a good student, friend, employee, and person by giving you insight into the next year ahead and make the transition easier for you along the way.