It's OK If College Doesn't Feel Quite Like Home

It's OK If College Doesn't Feel Quite Like Home

I can guarantee you that you're not alone.


Going away to college is a funny thing. For me, it meant ending up at a four-year University that I was almost certain I would not attend. Don't get me wrong, I'm a Clemson fan through and through. But my heart always told me that I wasn't meant to end up there.

My mom went to Clemson alongside two of my aunts some odd years ago. They absolutely thrived there. They were both in tri-delts and knew every single girl that lived in their hall. There wasn't a party that went on in Clemson that these two didn't know about. They were unstoppable.

A few years later, my uncle went to Clemson and eventually, my older brother ended up there as well two years before I did. I felt like my family had established their legacy. There were so many stories for everyone to tell, and I absolutely loved to hear them. But, I felt like I wanted to make my own mark somewhere else. I wanted to have my own stomping grounds and my own neat places to brag about. I craved individuality.

As my high school career ended, I had a much harder time choosing where I wanted to go off to college than I thought I would have. I ended up staying home for a year and going to a local technical school while prolonging the inevitable. It didn't help much.

I applied to a number of places, and Clemson was one of them (obviously). See, I had never completely ruled it out. Even though I was afraid to live another four years in the shadow of my family's greatness, it was the sense of comfort that drew me to apply to a school I already knew.

I had walked the grounds of tiger town so many times. At football games, visiting my brother, friends who lived in the horseshoe, you name it. I loved Clemson. I just wasn't sure that it was the right place to call home.

And that's when I figured it out.

Where you go to college doesn't have to feel quite like home.

When you first get there, it's not going to. Somebody has got to give out the tough love here. It's going to be weird. There's going to be a new smell, a new air conditioner to get used to, and a new mattress that doesn't already have a cozy indentation of your body.

There will be new people, new restaurants to make your regular spots, and new sights to see.

It's going to be a whirlwind. You'll make it your own in so many ways. You'll find your favorite spot in the library to study. You'll find out which classmates to befriend for help with your statistics homework. You'll easily weave in and out of campus foot traffic in no time, and know which sorority sisters need to be avoided at all costs.

And you'll be okay. Even if all of this new knowledge and all of these new places doesn't feel like home. Because it doesn't have to. You can make a new normal for yourself during the year, then go right back to where your heart is happiest during the summer.

This time is fleeting. You won't feel like you're on this deserted island forever. You won't have to listen to 50-minute lectures that feel more like a 4-hour opera. You're going to grow. You're going to move on. You're going to always know where your heart is the happiest. And that place isn't going to go anywhere.

So, if it isn't your school, don't panic. It's not that way for everyone and nobody really is going to blame you. Because even the people who paint up for every football game still miss their mommies when they get a bellyache.

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11 Things 20-Year-Olds Who Look 12 Are Tired Of Hearing

No, I don't need a kids' menu, thank you very much.

I used to just laugh it off when someone thought I was 12 years old back when I was in high school, but now that I am three years deep into college getting ready to graduate, I don’t laugh anymore. If you are in the same situation as me looking like a child trying to get into a bar/club and the bouncer is questioning if your ID is fake, please read on — you may relate very much. Here are 11 things 20+ year-olds who look 12 are tired of hearing:

1. I didn’t know they let 12-year-olds work here.

Nope. They don’t.

2. What school do you go to?

Me: Florida State.

Person: University?!

3. *Tries to get a sample at Target* Is your parent nearby?

Let me FaceTime my mom really quick and ask her permission for this protein bar sample.

SEE ALSO: 11 Things 20-Year-Olds Who Look 12 Are Tired Of Saying

4. *Server at a restaurant* Here you go, sweetie. What can I get you, darling? Hi, honey, how are you?

You are no more than three years older than me, there is no need for "sweetie."

5. It’s your birthday? Happy Birthday! How old now, fourteen/fifteen?

6. You look so much older when you wear makeup.

Is that supposed to be a compliment?

7. Wow, you're how old? You look like you are twelve.

Have you seen a twelve-year-old lately?

8. You probably just look young because you're short.

9. *Tries to flirt with a guy* You're a little too young for me I think.

I'm your age. Maybe even older.

10. Are you old enough to see this movie? Can I see your ID please?

11. You're going to be so thankful when you are in your 50's.

So I've been told. Hopefully, it's worth it.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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It Took Me 4 Years And $100K To Realize Why Poor Kids Like Me Don’t Go To College

But now that I know, I can't get it out of my mind.


I grew up poor.

There, I said it. It's out in the open now—I don't come from a family that has a bunch of money. In fact, my family doesn't have much money at all. My single mother works in fast food and does a DAMN good job trying to support herself and the rest of us. A lot of the food my family gets comes from food pantries. We have received government assistance before. I grew up poor, but I haven't let that define me.

Especially when it came to going to college.

I didn't want to let my economic background hold me back from my potential. I wanted to be the first person on both sides of my family to receive my college degree. I wanted to get a better paying job and moving up in socioeconomic status so I don't have to be the "poor" girl with the "poor" family all my life. I'm not really ashamed of coming from a poor family, but I also don't want to be poor my entire life.

For a majority of my college career, I wondered why there weren't many poor students around me at college. I go to a public university, and it's just the same price as any other state school really. Coming from a lower income home, I did receive a lot of assistance, and without it, there's no way in hell I could be here. I know that many other lower-income students can get this same assistance, which really made me wonder why there was such a lack of other poor kids around me.

I mean, everyone posts videos from their nice, upper-middle-class homes on Snapchat over holiday breaks while I go back home to the trailer park.

Everyone can call mom or dad and ask for money when things get rough while I pay for 100% of the things I own because my mother simply cannot afford it.

Everyone walks around in their name-brand clothes while I'm rocking Walmart knockoffs. It's not something I thought about for a couple years in college, but once I noticed it, I couldn't think of anything else.

It took me nearly all four years of college to realize why there's such a lack of poor students at my average, public university. Poor students are set up for failure in college. It's almost designed to be a survival of the fittest when it comes to us lower-income students, and those of us who are deemed the fittest and do make it to graduation day are typically stuck with a lot of debt that we don't have the financial intelligence or support to even think about paying off.

Poor students are in the minority in college, and when you're in a minority anywhere, surviving can be difficult. When it costs $100 just for a 5-digit code to do your homework, it can be hard to stay in school. When the cost of living on campus is $10,000 or rent for an apartment is nearly $500 a month, it can be hard to stay in school. When you don't have a car because you can't save up the money for one and your parents can't help you, it can be hard to stay in school. When you're forced to get a minimum wage, on-campus job that limits your to twenty hours a week, it can be hard to stay in school. When all of your friends don't understand why you can't go out to eat or to the bar every weekend, it can be hard to stay in school. All of these reasons add up to the main reason why poor kids don't go to college—the odds are stacked against us.

I never had shame in my socioeconomic status until I went to college. In my hometown, I wasn't much less than the norm. Now, my home life is drastically different than that of all of my friends. I know that this is something that is never going to change because when I enter the workforce in less than a year, I'll be going in as the first member of my family with a college degree. People will treat me differently when I tell them this, even if I don't want them to. People will treat me differently when they ask where my parents work and I tell them McDonald's. It's an unfortunate reality that I cannot control.

It took me nearly all four years to realize why poor kids don't go to college, but now that I know, I can't get it off my mind.

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