8 Truths About Your College Years That You Never Wanted To Believe
Your four years of college aren’t to be taken for granted. You’ve made it out of the pre-pubescent, angst-ridden grasp of high school and into the minor leagues that is your secondary education.
It’s a glorious mecca of newfound independence, friendships, stress, procrastination, self-discovery, binge drinking and endless debt.
Rejoice, my friends. Whether or not you just got here, you're nearing graduation or you’ve stuck around for a few extra years, I can promise you that these will be — or have been — some of the best years of your life.
I can still remember my first day on campus. My Grandmother broke down into tears as soon as we set foot into my residence hall. I nearly threw up from mixed feelings of pure terror and hysterical excitement.
I had a lot of expectations, but in reality, I had no idea what the hell I was getting myself into. At the time I was still a sheltered, only-child freshman who lacked fashion sense and experience with alcohol.
Fast forward a semester, and I was 10 pounds heavier, sleep-deprived, the proud owner of a frightening tolerance for vodka and filled with a sense of school pride that could only be understood by my fellow peers.
Little did I know, I was on my way to discovering some things about college that no one ever tells you, or maybe they do and we just don’t listen.
Program Expectations vs. Program Realities
Your program of choice will rarely turn out to be what you expected. Everything looks good on glossy, university-endorsed paper and realistically, you possess a very limited grasp of what you're truly interested in when you finish high school.
If you think that multiple-choice career test you took in grade 12 was an accurate representation of your life path, think again.
Factor in our generation’s commitment-phobic tendencies along with the demands of the job market, and you have today's university culture of indecision. Get ready to change degree paths and shuffle through pointless electives.
According to Dr. Fritz Grupe, founder of MyMajors.com, 50 percent of those who declare a major will change it during their college years.
So if you finish your first year of university and realize you hate your program, don't panic. Changing your degree is a very viable option.
The Freshman 15
The infamous “Freshman 15” is a very real thing; mark my words. You may think you'll be the one to beat the system, but you won't.
Instead, you’ll drink until your liver hates you and consume more Kraft macaroni and bagels than you ever thought possible.
You won't sleep, you'll nearly implode from stress following the realization that high school did nothing to prepare you for university and the walk to the gym will always seem like an unreasonable venture.
You'll slowly transition from wearing jeans to living in sweatpants, and your parents will begin subtly force-feeding you salad whenever you go home. Don't worry, though; this is primarily a first-year phenomenon, and it too shall pass.
You may love your school, but your school loves your money more.
You will become broke. You will become more broke than you ever thought possible. And trust me, your student loans won't take you to dinner before they screw you.
Tuition seems to increase every year and you’ll pretty much have to sell your soul to afford the required text books that you may never even read.
And beer, you'll also need money for beer. This applies to your undergraduate degree, grad school and beyond.
So roll up your sleeves, tough your way through a grueling part-time job and familiarize yourself with student deal days so you can afford the hefty price tag attached to your education. In the end, it will be worth it (we hope).
You’ll meet some of the best people, and some of the worst.
It is a common expectation that you will meet lifelong friends at college, and you will. Some people you meet will make you wonder how you ever existed without them, but there is a flip side to this equation.
As with any aspect of life, you will also be forced to endure some pretty questionable characters. You’ll probably hate some of your neighbors, plot the demise of nauseatingly eager kids in your lectures, contemplate throwing a dumbbell at certain people at the gym and tell off plenty of drunken jerks at the bar.
Take it all with a grain of salt because to get to the good, you have to sift through some of the bad.
Dating in college is complicated.
Dating in college is somewhat of a cruel, confusing and embarrassing experience. It seems many of us muddle our way through our undergraduate degree just waiting to meet the love of our life because romance movies and some questionable statistics told us it usually happens that way. Hey, maybe it does, but it’s rarely an easy ride.
You will most likely play a role in a few different relationships; some that may be utterly disastrous and some that may prove to be mildly successful.
You’ll probably find yourself thrown into the convoluted world of one-night stands, casual hookups, alcohol-induced regrets and people who don’t text back. The reality is, however, you probably won’t meet the love of your life at the bar or on Tinder.
There is no perfect system; no one has worked out an algorithm to master the art of dating in college.
All you can really do is try to keep your wits about you, maintain a level head and stay true to who you are, what you’re comfortable with and what you want.
Don’t be afraid to make some mistakes here and there, but try not to use it as an excuse to live recklessly, either, and you should survive the experience (mostly) unscathed.
Procrastination will directly contribute to a psychological breakdown.
Most of us are guilty of procrastinating; it seems to be the overall nature of our generation. In this regard, Netflix and drinking on weeknights can literally be the death of you in college.
Hell, if I had a nickel for every time I had a stress-related breakdown throughout school, I would be a slightly less broke student.
Professors do not care about excuses. Leaving things to the last minute usually doesn’t fly, either; your grades or your psychological well-being will reflect your work ethic tendencies. This will be a learning experience, but eventually, you will find the balance.
Experiences are worth a thousand words, or at least might help you get a job.
Trust me when I say, experiences are everything. The job market becomes more competitive by the day, and even a bachelor’s degree doesn’t cut it anymore.
Although your grades are important, don’t forget to add some hands-on experience to your résumé whenever you can.
Unfortunately, this often introduces the world of slavery that is the “unpaid internship,” but it can be a necessary evil.
Look for jobs that are applicable to your post-grad goals, chase down internships and pack in some volunteer work because it’s not just the degree or the marks anymore; it’s the whole package.
Treat your undergraduate experience like your portfolio and do as much as you can to better equip yourself for your future aspirations. You won’t be sorry.
Graduation will be here before you know it.
Time flies when you’re having fun — even when you’re studying. I kid you not, each year of your college experience will pass quicker than the last, and as much as exams may push your psychological capacity to its limit, you’ll probably have a heavy heart when it’s all over.
Don’t take any of it for granted, because a lot of people would kill to be where you are. So get drunk, conquer your bucket lists, ace your exams, actually get to know some of your professors, love your friends and enjoy the ride.
“Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim.” – Tyler Knott Gregson
Regardless of the exams, the debt and the breakdowns, don’t forget to enjoy the experience for all that it is before moving on to your next chapter.
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