Pretty soon, you’re going to be finally leaving school behind. You’ll finish your last exam, walk out those gates and wave goodbye to the place that you’ve spent the last six years of your life.

It’s a bittersweet feeling because even though you’re finally able to ditch all those exams and assignments (at least, for a little while), you’re also leaving behind the familiarity of your friendship groups.

While some of you might be cheering at the idea of being able to let go of your toxic friends, some of you might be terrified about the supposedly inevitable drift from your besties.

But, despite what people might tell you, it’s not impossible to stay friends with your high school mates and losing the people you’ve grown up with doesn’t have to be the case, you just have to put in a bit more work.

Here’s how:

1. Don’t fall off the group chat

Group chats are sacred entities that shall forever be respected and cherished. But, if you’re not checking in on your pals regularly, a group chat can die within an instant, which can be seen as a metaphor for your friendship group as a whole.

This may be exactly the sort of thing your parents roast you about (Communication is dead! Read a book! I don’t know what a meme is!), but at the end of the day, group chats are an easy, special and hopefully safe place that you can use to nurture and vent to your friend group, regardless of what path everyone is taking.

2. Not every catch up needs to be a big deal

You’ll find that once you leave the structure of high school, organising your friends becomes more and more difficult. Schedules clash, people bail and, most of the time, it’s easier to cancel than to find a way to make a big catch up actually work.

Keep in mind that not every catch up needs to be a big event and there’s nothing wrong with inviting a friend over to nap or to watch a Netflix series together.

Maccas runs aren’t exclusive to high school and even asking a mate to come walk the dog with you or do a grocery run when your mum has forgotten milk and bread can be an easy, no-pressure way to stay involved in each other’s lives.

3. Start keeping track of important things in their lives

Finishing high school means the start of a tonne of new adventures. University starts up, travel plans are finalised and job interviews are organised.

While being in school meant you could constantly stayed switched on to what was happening in all your friends lives, once you’re free you’re not going to have your best friend reminding you that her birthday is coming up in a week, or that they fly out of the country in a couple of months.

Which means it’s up to you to stay on top of everything. Write reminders in your phone calendar of your mates birthdays, when the go on holidays and when they have important meetings. Take note of when big exams are scheduled and text them good luck the night before, keep track of serious medical appointments so you can check if they’re all good and be aware of the anniversary of things like deaths in the family so that you can support them if they need it.

4. Have something to look forward to as a group

Right now is the perfect time to start making post-school plans for your crew. You can organise the logistics of things like a road trip, a weekend festival with the entire group or tickets to an upcoming concert. Or, it could be as simple heading along to the premiere of a movie you’re all keen on watching.

The anticipation of these sort of plans are great and there’s less chance of anyone bailing because everything is locked in way in advance (and you’re all keen to show up).

5. Accept that things are going to change

Truth be told, you’re about to leave a very convenient nest.

High school guarantees that you’ll be seeing all of your friends five days a week. You can’t expect to step out of that and not think that things are going to be different.

But different doesn’t have to mean bad, or that you need to throw the whole friendship away.

Work schedules, uni timetables or a 9-5 job doesn’t erase what made you friends in the first place and if you can remember all the things that brought you together outside of school, it won’t matter that you’re not being thrown together every day in a classroom anyway.

Start adapting now, and trust that your pals have still got your back even after you leave the comfort of high school.