What they don't tell you about college.
Updated: Apr 2
You might have the idea that your time in college will be the best time of your life. Living on your own for the first time. All the Partying. Meeting new people. There's a lot to anticipate. However, expectations don't always match reality.
If you're in high school and awaiting your college experience, don't assume that your time on campus will be perfect. When you walk into places with super high expectations, you set yourself up for failure. One problem with setting super high expectations is that much of the future is out of your control. Getting attached to ideas or things that haven't happened yet is a flawed way of thinking. Nothing in life is guaranteed. I encourage optimism and planning ahead, but don't assume anything, especially when you will be in a brand-new environment.
You might have been extremely popular in high school. However, an amazing ability to make friends might not translate to a new college environment. At a big state school, 99% of the people on campus probably will have no idea who you are. This can be an adjustment if you were comfortable with everyone knowing who you were in high school. Likewise, the professor won't know who 99% of the students in giant lecture halls. This differs from previous learning experiences in high school, where classes were much smaller. On the weekend, when those previously mentioned classes aren't taking place, you might plan on partying. While those parties might be what you're looking forward to the most, don't expect to make any friends at those events. The extremely loud music, crowded atmosphere, and beer can make it hard to make meaningful connections. These all serve as examples that you can feel lonely without being alone. You shouldn't feel any pressure to "fit in" large crowds. Value quality over quantity.
Do you value your time in bed? (not sex-related) If so, I've got some bad news for you. College makes it really hard to establish a consistent sleep schedule. On one day, your first-class might be at 8:00 AM. The following day, you might not have anywhere to be until 1:00 PM. This differs from grade school, where you had to be at the same place at the same time every single day. Last Saturday, I didn't wake up until 1:30 PM. That following night, I tried going to bed at midnight. I didn't fall asleep until 8:00 AM. I woke up at 2:30 PM. This was especially troubling because I had to wake up super early the next day since I have an 8:00 AM class on Mondays. Additionally, there might be Friday or Saturday nights where you go out and don't sleep until 3:00 AM. That, and the alcohol you might consume will negatively impact your sleep. I'm not saying that you should never go out on the weekends. Just be aware that having fun and taking care of your body are not mutually exclusive.
Many people think that their time on campus will be the best time of their lives. Every day will be awesome! Remember, no matter how great your time will be, your new routine will become "the standard". This means that your daily activities will inevitably lose the excitement that comes with them. When you expect something to happen all the time, it's no longer special. For example, I have unlimited access to the dining hall, which serves hamburgers and pizza every day, my two favorite foods. That sounds great, and it is. However, I take it for granted because it's what I've gotten accustomed to.
Being thrilled about college is completely understandable. It's important to realize you can be excited while also not expecting your time on campus to be perfect. The point of this article isn't to get rid of your excitement about being on campus. I'm not here to say that college sucks. I just want you to have a realistic mindset. That will help you better deal with the eventual hardships that arise on campus.