What I Had Wrong About College

May 13, 2015

My friend Betsy (The Sweet and Chic Prep) recently blogged about her freshman year and the 15 facts/fictions she learned through her experience. In her post, she mentioned that no matter how many blogs you read in preparation for college, you truly have to learn how college will fit into your life based on your own experiences-- you will never be fully prepared simply because you read an article on Her Campus or have a Pinterest board chock-full of advice.

This could not be more true, and I'll use that as a disclaimer going into this post. What I am going to share is personal and based off of my own experiences in college. My advice may not be 100% relevant to you, but I share it in hopes that you can feel slightly less intimidated if you're preparing to start college in the fall.  To read more about my freshman year experience, check out my reflection.

Without further adieu, I give you

The summer before my freshman year, I thought I knew what college was going to be like. I had scoured the web, read tons of blogs and was certain I had a pretty good understanding of what to expect. But I was wrong about a lot (and that's okay because college ended up awesome anyway)!

I'm always going to be busy!
False. I had a decent amount of free time freshman year. When I wasn't doing homework, I used this to catch up on Netflix, do some crafting and ~occasionally~ tidy up my room. This free time is precious so use it wisely!

Me and my roommate will be besties (we have so much in common)!
Whether you get to pick your roommate or not (mine was assigned randomly), there is NO guarantee that you will be friends. Before you start sulking in the corner, hear me out. It is best to go into it with the priority of cohabitation- not friendship. It is most important that you and your roommate live and coexist well than that you're BFFs. In some cases, you might end up making good friends with your roommate but focus on respect and consideration, primarily. I thought based on Facebook likes that my roommate and I had tons in common, but it turned out we couldn't be more different.

It's super easy to skip class!
I go to a school with small class sizes (nothing bigger than 30 students), but even in my largest classes, professors take attendance daily. Usually this attendance counts towards your grade so I've found that its really not worth it to skip class. If you have problems with morning classes, I recommend trying to schedule some later morning classes so you don't run the risk of oversleeping. Even if attendance is not a big deal at your school, I would try to minimize skipping classes unless you have a really good excuse-- your GPA will thank you.

My papers are going to triple in length from what I wrote in high school.
If anything, my college papers have actually gotten (believe it or not!) shorter and a lot more reasonable than high school papers. Professors are busy people and (minus a few exceptions) they are not extraordinarily demanding people. They assign relatively fair work and many are willing to allow you extensions on assignments if you ask.  Build relationships with your professors-- not only will you then have a built in mentor, but someone to write you recommendation letters for on-campus positions as well as jobs and internships!

If I don't get in X sorority, my life is over.
I am living proof that this is completely false. I went into sorority rush clueless and confused as to what I wanted. After completing the entire recruitment process, I found a sorority I loved and listed it as my top choice on Preference Night. Long story short, I got a bid- but not from the sorority I wanted. I tried it out for a few weeks but ultimately decided not to be initiated. This sorority was not the right fit and I am happy with my decision not to continue with something I knew in my heart was not for me. Though my school is very dominated by the Greek culture, I am still happy as a GDI ("God damn independent," HA!). With many friends in a variety of sororities, I get to meet tons of people and attend functions with many different Greek organizations. I am considering rushing again next Spring, but we'll see how next year plays out. 

It's scary easy to gain the "freshman 15."
This is wrong. To gain 15 lbs in nine months takes a serious change in your eating habits. While there is certainly access to junk food at college, there are just as many healthy options. If anything, I changed by health habits for the better. I got into a routine at the gym and changed my meal plan to eating several small meals over the course of the day.

I am going to be so homesick.
I hadn't spent much time away from my family and being nine hours away from home made me certain that I'd get really homesick. However with FaceTime and phone calls, I made it through until breaks when I would get to see my family. I found that if I was happy and having fun at school, I didn't get all that homesick.

Orientation is going to be a blast!
Despite the various events that make orientation seem like its going to be a great time, the truth is that it will be awkward and boring, but you will do it because everyone has to. Orientation is the acclimation period where you learn your way around campus, listen in on rules and safety seminars, an engage in awkward ice breakers with other nervous freshmen.  It may not be the time of your life but this awkward hump has to happen at some point, so don't set your expectations of orientation too high- just be yourself and meet as many people as you can!

No rules? I'm gonna go crazy!
After coming from a strict all-girls Catholic high school and being brought up by relatively strict parents, the idea of "no rules" seemed so strange to me. I wondered if I would rebel against everything I'd been taught and go wild. This did not happen. The truth is, you'll probably end up behaving the way you're used to because its comfortable. That's not to say college won't be any different-- there are crazy parties and lots of drunk people. Frat boys were not always frat boys-- the truth is most people in college continue to uphold their morals (at least in some sense) and you will continue to obey (at least some of) the rules you were raised on because they are part of who you are.

Summer starting in May is going to be the best thing that ever happened to me.
While it is certainly nice to be back in my own bed with no looming homework assignments hanging over my head, I already miss college. My best friends are not living within minutes of me anymore and the life I got used to has ended abruptly. While I don't miss shower shoes, dining hall food or computer science, I will miss college so much this summer and am already excited about going back in August!


Unknown said...

I'm so glad to see someone posting about the impression they had after freshmen year. I am currently a graduate student and I work mentoring undergraduates at my current university (as I also received my undergraduate degree here), and incoming freshmen and try to talk them out of their fears and that they should take advantage of freshmen year because the workload will increase as you progress, but it is not always what everyone thinks it is going to be.

Good luck with the rest of your undergraduate career!

oxo, Lesh

Lauren Gilvar said...

Thank you Lesh!