There’s a lot of hype out there about college. It can be a great experience (will need: good attitude) but there are certain things that are said pretty consistently about college that are not necessarily true.
1) “The best four years of your life.” I heard this one a lot, and if you think about it, that’s a lot of pressure to put on four years. I mean the best of your life? I think that even if you have a really incredible college experience, it won’t be the best time of your life because there are so many good things to come. My mom was one of the only people who gave me a description of college that I found to be true. She said that it was kind of lonely. Not because you’re a social reject who doesn’t have any friends, but because it just is. As John Green so poetically put it, there is an “existential loneliness” about college.
I think this is because we’re used to being with our families and then suddenly we’re not. We aren’t with people who genuinely care about us and love us unconditionally. Instead everyone is a stranger who doesn’t know or understand us the way our close friends and family do.
Some people adapt better and more quickly than others, it has taken me years to adjust. Being an introvert, I value close relationships which are hard to form in four short years. I’m lucky enough to have found a couple, but it hasn’t been until this year that I’ve been able to be more at peace at school.
2) It’s okay to eat poorly. Okay no one came out and said, “yeah you can eat badly, you’re in college.” But most college students do. We think that because we no longer have parental supervision and because it’s cheap and convenient and we’re young, it’s okay. The thing about that is that eating healthy can be inexpensive and convenient, it just takes a little bit more thought than ramen noodles. And even more importantly, our habits now will have a significant impact on our quality of life as we get older. If we don’t take care of ourselves now we will pay for it eventually.
3) It’s okay to not get sleep. I don’t know how often I hear students complaining about how tired they are, (seriously, way too often). People stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning or pull “all-nighters” to get assignments done. Not only is this usually completely preventable and unnecessary, but it is a serious hazard to our health and cognitive function.
This video helps explain why it is so very important to get those zzzzz’s: How much sleep do you actually need
4) You have to party to have fun. Freshman year I got to college and promptly found that I had no idea what to do on the weekends. Of course it didn’t take me long to figure out what (seemed) like everyone else was doing: going to parties. I went to a few and it took me less than that to discover that they were not my scene. I like parties, I like parties where you dress up and you eat hors d’oeuvre and talk to other guests with soft music playing in the background…unfortunately the overwhelming majority of college parties are drastically different from this.
Once I knew that fraternity parties were a no-go for me, I became concerned about what I was going to do for fun; I couldn’t stay in my dorm all night reading…right? Thankfully I had a couple of friends whose idea of fun was closer to mine, and as the semesters have gone by I’ve met more and more people with similar interests and gotten closer to a handful of them. I’ve gone hiking, swing dancing, shopping, had movie nights, gone out to dinner, gone to concerts…If you find that the inebriated college student, deafening rap music, hors d’oeuvre-less party is not your scene, that’s okay because I guarantee you that there are many more ways to have a good time.
College, like life in general, is what you make it. You have to go into it with an open mind and good attitude in order to make the best of it. I think one of the most important lessons I’m learning is who I am, who I want to be and accepting that person. Don’t be discouraged if college hasn’t turned out to be how you thought it would, how you look at something determines how it affects you.
A positive mind creates a positive life.
What about college has been/was different than what you expected?