College Dream Vs. College Reality
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Student Life

College Dream Vs. College Reality

What every freshman eventually learns.

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College Dream Vs. College Reality
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We all enter college with a sense of accomplishment. We are proud that we have officially survived elementary school, middle school and high school. The past is behind us, our future is ahead. It is in college that we will become the responsible adults that we were always meant to be. Our parents can’t order us around anymore, and we are legally allowed to do whatever we please (except break the law and drink before 21). Our worries are behind us, and we are going to be perfectly put together and prepared every day for the next four years…

And then you get to college. Move-in day is full of excitement and sadness as you hug your parents goodbye and begin organizing the dorm. Your roommate is nice and everything seems fine. Your desk is organized and you make sure you have a notebook and folder for each of your classes. You even have color coordinated everything. You make your bed for the first week of class, you do your hair and/or makeup perfectly, you put on your best outfits, you make yourself coffee and every morning you are chipper … and then it happens. They assign you homework. All 16 credits worth of classes. 1-2 chapters must be read for each class, short essays, videos, projects, SMALL GROUP PROJECTS (every college student is moaning in dread at even the mention of that), quizzes and tests … all of a sudden, it hits you. This is why every upperclassmen or college graduate laughed when they saw your organization and excitement. This is why your parents suggested you not worry so much about whether or not all of your class supplies for Biology are purple, while English’s supplies are blue.

That’s when your college experience truly begins. Your bed is left unmade. You begin to put off homework until two hours before your class (even the morning ones). Your hair gets to relish in its natural beastliness. Your outfits become lazier, less put together and sometimes they don’t even match. Makeup is a hit or miss part to your morning routine, but you never miss fueling up with coffee as you stumble to your morning/afternoon/night classes. You’ll laugh at every freshman that tries to look nice, and look in horror at every upperclassman that looks semi-decent. You find yourself calling mom and dad constantly, sometimes even texting them! You’ll ask them for advice, what they think about you making a certain choice and how to iron clothes or if you can microwave paper plates. And instead of embracing all your newfound freedom you decide to break all the laws (this is one I have no personal experience with) like underage drinking, breaking and entering, stealing, etc. Because now that a felony could actually permanently destroy your entire future, you decide to make all the wrong choices.

You’re stressed because you procrastinated by either staying out too late last night or watching too much Netflix. You’re a mess because you haven’t gotten more than four hours of sleep in two months. You’re hungry because you don’t have time to walk to the cafeteria … so you’ll probably just grab some snacks from the vending machine (aka the college diet). You’re sad because you feel like you’re making all of the wrong choices and you don’t have your parents to yell at you for being an idiot so you have to ask your best friend and/or roommate to take their place. And you’re broke because you haven’t gotten a job yet or you just spent all of your paycheck on college tuition and books.

You don’t have a car. Or, if you do, you don’t have gas money to put gas into your car. You haven’t washed your hair in three to seven days. You can’t even find your jeans because that’s how long it’s been since you’ve touched them, but they’re probably buried in the four-foot-tall pile of dirty laundry you have growing next to your four bags of garbage. You begin to wonder what fresh air smells like. If you’re in Minnesota, you quickly regret that curiosity the minute you leave the dorm building and are coldly greeted by a traditional Minnesota winter. You watch the squirrels outside your window and wonder how you could sneak your cat or dog into your dorm for the rest of the semester. And worst of all, you begin missing high school and can’t wait for these four years to end so you can begin the rest of your stressful life.

And yet, you will love every second of college. The stress, the drama, the exhaustion. It’s all just parts of your experience. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, or so Kelly Clarkson claims. You are in a transition phase that will lead you to independence and adulthood, but for now it might be a little overwhelmingly miserable. You will have days when all that I described happen. But, the memories that you will make in the midst of all of the stress and lack of sleep will be ones that will last a lifetime. I can still recollect my late night walks to McDonalds with my friends, the many inside jokes that were created due to exhaustion and several skunks that attempted to ambush my friends and I during our adventures. To this day I laugh about the time I tried to take a shortcut down a steep hill and slipped on the acorns (like in the cartoons when the characters slip on marbles) and fell down the hill. Or when I climbed a mountain with a friend but it turned into a 12-mile walk (two of those miles were in the rain), and then when we finally got to the top of the mountain we saw the giant storm clouds coming our way. It's stories like those that make college the best time of your life and make all of your failures as a college student worth it.

If you were to ask me if I like being in college, I would probably jokingly say no. But the reality is this, I love college. I love learning and being pushed and feeling like I’m accomplishing something. Yes, I’m excited to be done in a year and a half. The idea truly sounds wonderful. But I know that the moment I grab my diploma, I’ll miss it. So, don't be discouraged by the scary picture I just painted you. Yeah, it probably won't go the way you planned. You'll accidentally put your English homework into the purple folder. Your bed will not be made daily, you may be able to cook a grilled cheese sandwich using the oil in your hair and you may take up two to three washers when you finally find the time to do your laundry. That's okay. Don't procrastinate on homework (says every hypocritical college student ever), but make sure you find people or things that make you feel as if you belong and make you enjoy your life. It doesn't necessarily have to be at college, it can be anywhere ... work, volunteering, old friends, church, anything! But please don't be scared off by the daunting reality that college is not always pretty. The ugly duckling wasn't very pretty at first either. Some things in life take time to bloom into their full beauty. College is kind of a bipolar example of that. Sometimes it's beautiful, other times it's horrid. But you just have to keep swimming. �

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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