People often describe their time in college as “the best time in my life”, and sometimes they really remember it. Friends, parties, and football games ARE a lot of fun, I am not trying to dispute that, but people tend to remember only the good times, and to forget the bad experiences. College is filled with stress, hard work, and can be intimidating, especially to the lonely freshman who has to figure everything out.
The following list provides a reminder to those who have gone, and a warning to those who will go, about the worst things about attending college:
- Mandatory orientation programs are an unpleasant and unavoidable reality for everyone. In theory, this should be something that could be beneficial, and actually help to reduce the stress and intimidation that were mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, truly important things like not scheduling 8:00 a.m. Friday morning classes (weekends start on Thursdays, now!) is never mentioned.
- Roommates are a big part of the college experience, and are often an even bigger problem. For every lifelong friendship that began with a blind roommate assignment, there are thousands of ill-matched and awkward pairings of people with no common ground.
- College dormitories provide plenty of food, and most of it is not particularly good, or good for you. There is a reason that the phrase “freshman fifteen” was coined: plentiful quantities of carbohydrate-laden delicacies are not the best way to maintain a healthy diet.
- The social hierarchy in college can be a shock for those who were looking forward to escaping the cliques and stratified popularity contests at their high schools. Most of the “popular kids” went to college, too, and they are probably going to be popular there, as well.
- Going to class once a week sounds great, until you have to attend a four-hour lecture. With any luck, this is not the class that you scheduled at 8:00 a.m. on Friday mornings.
- There are many unpleasant things associated with the academic side of college. Although the academics are generally not a part of the fond remembrances and often not a huge focus for those attending, occasionally some truly awful things, like writing accounting papers, do take place.
- Associated with the unpleasant nature of classwork that is mentioned above, the panicked, caffeine-fueled frenzy of staying up all night to meet a deadline or cram for an exam is an experience that is not often celebrated. Ironically, though, this actually begins to provide life skills that will have an application in the next phase of the college student’s life. Be warned.
This list in not intended to discourage attending college, but rather to provide some contextual memory for some and truth in advertising for others. Pursuing a degree is filled with fantastic experiences, and some of them are even connected with actually earning a degree.
College, like every other stage in life, has its good and bad. It is better to know and understand that going in, and to recognize that within a few years, or days, the bad times (writing that term paper!) will begin to fade.