The first semester is rapidly coming to an end with Thanksgiving break among us and finals a month away. These first few months have been ridden with new experiences, lessons to be learned, and reality checks to go around. The most important lesson I reflect on, however, is the fact that high school does not prepare you for what college has to throw at you.
1. AP/IB classes don’t prepare you for the intensity of a college course.
Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the AP credit, but I truly wonder if College Board believes their curriculum accurately represents a college class. The minute I sat down in my first ECN 203 lecture, I knew it was nothing similar to high school economics. There are no demonstrations, nor are there study guides. Powerpoints contain minimal words and certainly no pneumonic devices.
2. No one forces you to go to class.
This has been my biggest enemy. Mom isn't here to drag me out of bed and send me on my way with coffee every morning, so if I want to stay in bed through my 8 a.m. AND my 9:30, that's all on me.
3. Sometimes you have four exams and a 10 page paper due in one week; you just have to suck it up and crank it out.
There's no more convincing the teacher to push the test back by a week. If it's in the syllabus, it's usually non-negotiable. Crying in the library only lasts for a few hours. Eventually, that paper has to be written and those exams have to be taken.
4. When your professor says read the textbook, read the damn textbook.
It's easy to get away with ignoring the twenty-page reading assignment the teacher leaves on the board in high school. No one ever read it anyway. Try falling five chapters behind in a college psychology class and I promise you will have wished to have read the textbook. Professors take exam questions right from the book, so there goes that two-point multiple choice question.
5. You can study for an exam for 14 hours straight and still show up feeling completely unprepared.
I still don't know how to properly study for a college exam. There's no more TI-84 calculator to write the answers in the Y= section. Sometimes a 16-page study guide and 127 notecards just don't cut it for a business professor.
6. Going to bed by 10:30 is a thing of the past.
No one ever expects their sleep schedule to be ruined. I still hear high school friends say they're going to turn in early around 11:30. Sorry honey, but one minute you're managing an eight hour per night sleep schedule and then you're pulling your first all-nighter at the library and still making it to class the next morning.
7. The library is your new home.
Imagine stepping foot in a library back in high school to do homework: weird, right? In college, you live, breathe, eat, and sleep in the library.
8. Being a broke college student is not an understatement.
As a shopping addict, I can attest to this. I won't share how much money I've spent since I got to school since someone is bound to yell at me, but when there's food to eat, clothes to buy, and bar covers to pay, the account dropped below $25 notification comes all too soon.
9. You call your mom for every little problem.
My mom is my personal reminder app, therapist, doctor, and of course, best friend. I call her when health services can’t give me an accurate diagnosis. I call her when I need advice. I call her when I probably failed an exam. At this point, she's probably sick of how often I call, but she seems to know everything about anything when I need her.
10. If you thought you drank a lot of coffee in high school, just wait until your first all nighter.
When you haven't slept in the past 24 hours, sometimes five shots of espresso aren't enough to keep you going through your 8 a.m. The only solution is to grab another three by 9:30. I'm not kidding either.
11. A lot of socks will go missing in the laundry room.
I'm sorry, but I've been here for three months and I've gone to Target on four separate occasions to replenish my sock collection. No one stole them, they just get lost in the abyss of the communal laundry room. Trust me, you'll miss mom doing your laundry.
12. Don’t expect to put on a full face of makeup and dress cute for your 8 a.m. class.
I was certainly guilty of this back in high school. Trust me, I'm lucky if I can roll out of bed ten minutes before class and wear the same sweatshirt I wore to bed.
13. Falling asleep at any point in the day, in random places is completely normal.
I knew so many people who were afraid to fall asleep in public because maybe they look weird or people would take pictures of them. Walk into the library, Panasci lounge, the lobby of any dorm, there's bound to be at least one person passed out at any given point in the day.
14. If you thought spirit week was crazy, wait for your first tailgate.
High school social life is nothing compared to a college social life. When you live at home, it's hard to just leave the house at 11 p.m. and go to a friends house. Here, you walk down the hall and barge right into your friend's room at all hours of the night.
On the weekends, there are no parents restricting the debauchery and setting a curfew, so coming home at 6 a.m. is normal and so is day drinking at 10 a.m. for the tailgate.
15. Telling me to be an adult doesn’t mean I actually know how to be one.
People will tell you that attending college is the next step in adulthood, but no one ever actually tells you how to be an adult. Don't ask me how to write a check, or which fork to use at a formal dinner, or even how to open my mailbox. This is what high school should have taught us. Instead, I know all too much about the mitochondria of a cell and I'm not even a biology major.
College is full of new opportunities and new faces, but in all honesty, it's one of the hardest adjustments to adulthood. It's a learning experience and some adapt faster than others, but even if you attended a college prep school, high school didn't prepare you for this.