I went back in time for a couple hours last week.

Two college friends stopped by to reminisce about our days at Wayne State College and to get caught up.

One friend still lives in Nebraska, and another calls Arizona home.

The transplanted Arizonan was back visiting family in Colorado and Iowa and made a stop in Nebraska.

I cannot remember the last time I had seen him.

Thanks to our smartphones, we keep in touch by texting and even go old-school by talking on the phone on rare occasions.

My Nebraska friend and I had shared lunch a few times and commiserated when we were out of work at the same time.

Once we got back together, it was like old times again.

We laughed about our college days, and tried to put faces to names and names to faces of some of the people we remembered from those days that happened about 28 years ago.

Twenty-eight years, wow.

Two years after graduation, I would be married, and four years after that my daughter would be born, and about two years later our family was complete when my son was born.

In between college graduation and last week, the three of us went through a few jobs, a few moves and the start of two families. Besides my family, my Arizona buddy got married and had two children a girl and a boy and now finds himself in the newspaper business, selling ads.

He made it a point to tell me about the spring training games he went to in March, knowing I was the one friend he had who would be very jealous.

The third of the trio has remained single and stayed close to home.

None of us had any idea where life would take us when we left college. Not many do at that point.

When you graduate college, you just want to get a job. Where doesn't matter too much. Even the money doesn't matter all that much. You are happy someone wants to hire you and pay you.

Then you get to work and start living on your own, and you come to a startling realization.

All those years people were telling you there's a big difference between the real world and college, well, it's even bigger.

The insulation of college is gone. After all, college is still school, and kids have been in school for years.

The biggest thing about college is that Mom and Dad are no longer checking up on you.

Sure you grow up, have to do more for yourself, and take on more responsibilities. Teachers don't care if you show up for class or not. They get paid whether there are 200 in class, 20 or two. The college doesn't care because they already have collected your money. It's up to you to care.

But if you're paying attention, you learn to care, and everything else falls into place.

College is a great experience. It may not teach you all you need to know about living on your own and starting your first job, but it's where you meet friends that last a lifetime, and that's just as important.

Patrick Murphy, of Humphrey, Neb., is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.