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  • Carson Hathaway

What they don't tell you about college.

You might have the idea that your time in college will be the best time of your life. Between having full-fledged freedom for the first time in your life, all the partying, and the number of new people you'll get to meet, there's a lot to look forward to when you're on campus. 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 because nothing in life is guaranteed. I encourage optimism and planning ahead, but don't assume anything, especially when you're going to 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, unless you're a division one athlete, 99% of the people on campus 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, in big university lecture halls, the professor won't know who 99% of his students are. 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 going to a party at a fraternity house. While those parties might be what you're looking forward to the most, don't expect to make any friends at those events. Between the extremely loud music, crowded atmosphere, and beer, it can be hard to make meaningful connections at parties. 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.

If you value your time in bed (not sex-related) then 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 but 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 go to 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 is not mutually exclusive.

When entering college, many people think that their time on campus will be the best time of their lives and that 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, it's hard for me to not take that 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 or to argue that college sucks. Rather, I want you to have a realistic mindset so you can better deal with the eventual hardships that come with being on campus.

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