People have been asking me, "How did your first year of college go?" I usually reply with a casual "Great!" or "It went well, thanks!" But that is not truly telling of how my first year went. I'd like to share how I actually felt about it.

So far, I love college. I've made tons of friends, had a lot of fun, and did very well in my classes. But I often think about how college is hyped up to be this completely different thing that you have never experienced before, but in reality, I found it to be similar to high school. And with the small differences that there were, they were easy to adjust to. But on the other hand, I was a commuter, and so my experience is very different than those who live at college since I still go home every day. Nonetheless, I still found it pretty easy and routine, just as high school was, constantly following and abiding by a schedule.

Completely going against what I just said, college does have a certain feeling to it. And it's great. The feeling of independence that you get while walking through campus (perhaps aimlessly, as I have done many times) gives you a sense of autonomy, and maybe even some pride, that I have never felt before. You also get a feeling of anonymity but in a good way.

For me, my high school was relatively small, and so everyone I passed, I knew. Now, in college, I might happen to pass someone I know, but for the most part, most of the people I see are either complete strangers or somebody I may have seen in the past but never actually talked to. They don't know me, my name, if I'm a freshman or a senior, what I do, or who I am. Some people could find this disappointing or even lonely, but others could use this to feel more confident in themselves. Who's easier to be confident in front of, 10 people who know you or 10 strangers who don't know a single thing about you?

As for the actual academic part of college, I found it relatively easy. Sure, there might be a bigger workload, but unlike high school where you go to the same class five days in a row, now you only go two or three times, and so you have more time to complete your work. And like I always say, if you try in a class by putting at least some effort in, whether it be paying attention in class, writing notes, or thoroughly doing your homework so that you learn it yourself, everyone has the ability to do well.

The one thing that is a lot more difficult, however, is the lack of tests. Who would have thought that having fewer tests would be worse? But it's true, having fewer tests means they count that much more toward your overall grade. Now, one test can have a huge impact on how you do in a class, so there is a lot more stress during midterms and finals, since the two or three, rarely four tests, determine your final grade. But I also try to look at this in a more positive aspect by realizing this is potentially better since you only have to try hard for one week in the middle of the semester and one week at the end, rather than constantly stressing over tests that are every Friday.

Onto the social facet: it has been great, and it will be great for all those who go to college. In elementary/middle school, when you first make your friends, it could be a relationship formed by your parents introducing you to their friends' kids, perhaps a birthday party that you were forced to go to, or maybe it was your class that you were secluded to with 30 other students. These friendships are wonderful, don't get me wrong. You start these relationships as innocent, young, immature, awkward, insecure, the list could go on. With these, you get older and watch each other grow together.

But in college, you come grown already. You know who you are and what you like, and you know who you want to surround yourself with. With college relationships, you make them on your own. No more mom or dad inviting your whole class to your birthday party, but instead making conversation with a person in class or seeing someone at a club that you both chose to join, meaning that you already have something in common. These relationships are important because you know what you are doing. There is not that much room for you to change your overall personality, and so when these bonds form, they form because the other person likes you for you. No more social status or pressures to fit in. In college, everyone is accepted for who they are, and you are bound to find someone just like you.

This is why I love college. My usual short answer does not explain this all, but this is what I mean by "Great." College is quite an adventure, as it is a big part of your life. However, it is nothing to stress over or get nervous about, but to be excited for all that can come out of it and all the opportunities that will be available to you.