There are a wide variety of colleges to choose from: public or private; big school, small school, or mid-sized school; community college or four-year university; close to home or far away... the list is endless in the number of decisions you have to make to choose the school that's the right fit for you. Regardless of where you go, however, there are some universal rules that govern the college experience.
When I compare my college experience at Butler with friends and family that go to other schools, we often focus on the differences. Like "oh your class as 200+ people in it... that's nice, my biggest class has about 20 people in it." Or "why would you waste your Saturday at a sporting event, isn't it boring to watch your team lose..." To which I respond, "Umm no. We're actually pretty good at some sports. The games are really fun." And so on.
But some of the best moments are when we're able to bond over *similar* experiences. It's nice to feel like you're not alone navigating life on your own for the first time. It's nice to know that once you enter the workplace with people from all different universities, you will have even the smallest amount of similar background experience. Our differences may make us unique and help us choose the university that we do, but it's the common experiences that will be talking points in the future. So regardless of where you're at, here are 10 truths that all college students - regardless of university - know all too well.
1. 8 a.m. classes suck. No matter where you are.
It doesn't matter if the class has 100 people in it or 10. I don't care. I do *not* want to get up before 7:30 a.m. on any day. Ever. I don't care if it prepares me for the real world. Give me four years of sleep.
2. Career advisors will warn you about the terrifying job market.
Most schools have some sort of career services department that helps with resumés, job and internship searches, interviews, and more. Regardless of what you go on to see them for - or what school it is - you're going to walk away fearing for your ability to use your degree after graduation. This may not be their intent, but it's the message that most students walk away with.
3. Coffee is fuel. Coffee is success. Coffee is life.
If you don't drink coffee (or some other highly caffeinated beverage) before you get to college, you're going to start now. By the end of your first semester, you might have spent more at Starbucks than you have on gas.
4. Dining hall food never holds up its end of the bargain.
There are two alternative outcomes to eating in college.
1. The freshman 15: aka, you ate your way through all the desserts at the dining hall or constantly ordered fast food because the actual food provided in your meal plan sucked
2. You go home at Thanksgiving to have your grandma stuff you with food because "you haven't been eating enough" because you, in fact, have not been eating enough because again, the food sucked.
Needs less to say the banquets at Hogwarts got my hopes a little too high.
5. You start the semester proudly going to the gym, but the crowd (and likely you) don't make it past week 3.
Start of winter semester, and we all think this is going to be a "new year, new me" situation. In reality, like all the other New Years Resolutions that we make: we don't keep it. We realize we most likely have to walk OUTSIDE to get to the gym. That's a tad unappealing in the dark, in the snow, in the cold. Not fun. Hence, the optimism felt week 1 ends up being Netflix or homework time week 3.
6. Fire alarms only happen at the *most* inconvenient times.
How does someone know to burn their food at the exact time I'm taking a shower. Or on the phone. Or in the middle of an exam. It's amazing. Or worse, there is a prescheduled drill that no one warned me about, and I'm still stuck in the shower, or in an exam, or sleeping. Awesome. Yes. I want to rush my way around my apartment at this weird hour of the day to get ready before the police come and yell at me to get out of the apartment. Because the flashing lights and blaring noise weren't enough of a clue.
7. Professors are weird people.
Some of them are lovely. Some of them come off as a bit more distant. The types of professors employed by different schools probably do have different personality types; however, everyone has a weird professor. I mean, to dedicate your life to studying one specific thing, often even a specialized topic within that one thing, requires a certain personality type. And while normally nice, things professors say often come off as more than a little strange.
8. Dogs. Are. Awesome.
Nothing will brighten a college students day than telling them they can pet your dog. Nothing brightens my day more than getting to pet a dog. Dogs bring joy. Period.
9. Parking is a nightmare.
Someone will probably tell me this isn't a universal law because some schools can't have cars at all. Yea, that's still a nightmare. Your car is parked at your house. You are dependent on other people to come move you from point A to point B. Not awesome. And if you're at a school lucky enough to have a car, it's likely you've paid an arm and a leg to park it there, its nearly impossible to find a parking spot 90% of the time, you've been ticketed at least twice, and/or your parking spot is driving distance away from your usual residence.
10. Netflix is the best thing ever, but also the biggest impediment to getting stuff done.
Streaming TV is a college students bread and butter. It's sometimes the only thing that gets us through the day. But it is also, unfortunately, the biggest excuse for procrastination available. It's literally more work to stand up and tell the binge-session to stop playing than to let it continue on to another episode. It can stream anywhere you have internet, which considering you're on a college campus, should be everywhere. And as much as you think you can, you are NOT doing your best work while watching re-runs of Greys.