As a recent High School graduate, I was super excited for college. I was thinking that I finally get to take classes that interest me, play intramural sports, go to parties, and discover what kind of path I want to pursue. Everyone around me was beaming with delight.
"College is the best four years of your life!" they'd tell me. "Take risks and have some fun!" "You really find out who you are!"
I now realize that there were a lot of things my friends, peers, teachers, advisers, and even family didn't tell me about, either because they are unaware of the true horrors and inner demons that surge within many college students' minds and bodies, or they didn't want me to be freaked out. Rest assured, I have been plenty afraid in college.
Brace yourself for this article tells the truths you won't hear about as a teenager. These stories won't be at college fairs. They won't be on CollegeBoard. They won't be told from you friends. They'll be told by me, a current college student. These are the things I've either experienced, been told, or heard of. These are the things they did NOT tell you about in college, for good or for bad.
Sexual Assault, Abuse, and Rape
No matter which university you ultimately choose to attend, there will be some room, building, or area that stresses how prevalent the problems of sexual assault, abuse, and rape are. You will hear shockingly disturbing statistics that something like one in four or one in five women will experience some form of abuse in college.
Depression and Anxiety
You will meet someone struggling with depression or anxiety. They're in every residential hall, every dining hall, every class, at every school. The workload will take a toll on you. The stress of balancing grades with sleep with eating with exercise, with a social life with applications may seem overwhelming. A good friend will listen and demonstrate willingness to understand their feelings. It's okay to feel sad and scared, I know I first did when I found out how common these problems were.
You will meet someone struggling with an eating or self-image disorder. Some people are anorexic and some are bulimic. Some detest their appearance. I'm glad that I learned about these disorders in 10th grade health, however, as with all these truths about college, I wish I had been told earlier how prevalent this problem would be for people I would later meet.
Drinking and other Drugs
Everyone has a different take on the whole drinking and drug use issue. I'll say that it's okay to get drunk if you know you don't have to get drunk to have fun and have a good time. But if alcohol is the sole catalyst for your enjoying yourself, that's when you might have a serious problem. Some people get addicted to drugs more than others, some
Money and Work
A lot of things cost money. Greek life requires dues - these are payments each brother or sister must pay every semester if they want to stay part of the organization. Then there are numerous events and activities that require money for even funding those events.
Gas money. If you have a car you have to drive to the store, the market, a friend's place, sporting events, and countless other locations. You'll hear from everyone with a car how annoying it is to pay for gas.
The number one excuse people tell me why they can't go somewhere or buy something is because they don't have the money. No one told me how popular it is for college students to work, not just in the Summer, but during their Fall and Spring semesters. Maybe these things were told to you and emphasized time after time. Maybe my lack of knowing these things initially derives from my upbringing and Bethesda environment. I would think that these things were shocking to other students too, but if they weren't then you can basically disregard this article; you know it all already.
No one addresses these issues to High School students, not in my High School at least. After my first semester, I thought I had to proactively tell High School students these things.
So I do. Every time I'm on break now and High School is still in session, I make the time to visit Peace Studies classes at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, my alma mater, to inform of the conflicts they soon will be dealing with or hearing others dealing with. I don't go to scare them; I go to teach them, teach them about the things that adults in a High School setting are either too afraid of or ignorant of the importance to share.
As I scan the classroom I see nothing but wide eyes and worried looks as I realize that these kids have never had someone convey the unfortunate truths pertaining to the college experience. I'm not a sugar-coating type of person when it comes to this stuff.
Some students carry a very disturbing past with them that maybe no one is aware of. The best thing you can do is assume that everyone, and I literally mean everyone, has been through some sort of trauma, inner-conflict, abuse, emotional pain,...Don't assume that just because someone is happy whenever you see them, that their whole life is peachy. And, I mean, you're around your best friends for like what, a handful of hours each day? Who knows what they're like when they're not around you or when they're alone. Only them.
Find true friends. If you're lucky, of the hundreds of people you come across in college, maybe you'll find two or three people who genuinely care for your well-being and stick with you through the roughest times where you're at your worst.
In college, if you aren't experiencing one or several of these problems, you know someone who is. I can guarantee you, you know someone.
Seek help, find solace, and keep your head up. I'm sure you're fully aware of the fun things you can engage yourself in - drinking, partying, sporting events, programs for majors, . That's what they DO tell you.