Growing up, I always knew I wanted to go to college. All throughout elementary, middle and high school, going to college was always a dream of mine. My friends and family supported this dream and largely helped me make it happen. So, let me start off by saying I am extremely grateful to be in college. The lessons, skills, and opportunities I have from being a college student are so important and special; I wouldn't ever want to pass them up. However, I would be lying if I said going to college was easy. Being a college student is honestly the most difficult challenge I have faced in my life so far. There are so many aspects to being a college student that goes beyond just showing up to class every day. It's basically like having a full time job that you never really leave (especially if you live on campus). So, here's my perspective on being a college student.
1. A lot of work, all of the time.
This is one of the most challenging aspects of college to me. In college, the workload is obviously more compared to high school. This is common knowledge but trust me, it's probably more than you're thinking. One of the biggest differences I have found between high school and college is that in college you are expected to do more work outside of class time. Essentially, you are expected to learn outside of the classroom as well as in it. Therefore, I always feel like I have something I could be doing. There is always something to read, work on, plan out, or even just think about. If you ever get bored in college just spend some time on Canvas (or whatever software your college uses) or flip through various syllabi, and I'm sure you will find something to do. I work on schoolwork pretty much every day of the week (including weekends) because there is literally always something I could be doing. So, if you're planning on going to college don't let this scare you, just prepared to work and accomplish things you never thought you could.
2. Not a lot of downtime/time to do activities.
This goes hand-in-hand with what I just stated above. Since the workload in college is so much more than anything I had ever experienced before, I had a really hard time making the time to do other things. I struggled with this more last year but it is still something I continue to work on. Grades are important in college and you should always try to do your best, but having downtime or time with friends is also important. Like I mentioned, I still struggle with making this time for myself. It's hard for me to relax or to do something fun with friends if I know I have a lot of work to do. With that being said, it is still very important to make this time for yourself when you're a college student or even working. Everyone needs some downtime away from school or work. Learning to make this time for yourself will allow you to relax and probably help you focus better when you start working again. College is busy no doubt, but it is still important to do other things besides schoolwork 24/7.
3. Difficult to keep up with friends and family.
Since college is so hectic all of the time it can be hard to maintain relationships with friends and family. The key to any relationship is communication. Without it, you lose touch with someone and inherently lose that relationship. Making the time to still talk to friends and family can be hard in college with everything else going on. This might sound strange to some but college schedules are so busy all of the time, texting a friend or family member could be put on the back burner. In order to maintain relationships with people outside of your college, you need to make time to talk to them. For example, I always try talking to friends during my lunch breaks or whenever I have a few extra minutes. Sometimes you even have to plan out when you're going to talk to people. I have a set time I talk to my mom at night and plan my evenings around it. Being in college comes with a crazy schedule but if you prioritize relationships with friends and family, you will always have the time to talk to them.
4. Hard to stay healthy/fit.
Most colleges and universities have a gym or workout facility that students can use whenever they please. However, this entails the student taking time out of their busy schedule to actually go to this facility. If you're anything like me, you don't take the time to work out as you should. Since the amount of work I have to do seems never-ending, I don't go to the gym as I should. For the reason being, if I have something to work on for school I am going to do that rather than work out. This sounds bad I know but it's my reality. Making the time to workout is always on my list of things to do but it's just at the bottom, so most of the time I don't get to it. Also, the food in dining halls isn't always the healthiest. Sometimes it can be hard to find healthy options and you end up eating something just because it's the only option you have and you're hungry. However, I have noticed the dining hall on my campus has been offering more healthy options, so there is hope. I don't work out as I should but I always try to eat healthy foods and take the stairs whenever I can. Even if you don't have time to do a super intense workout, you can still make strides in the right direction.
5. Trying to balance it all.
If you have been reading my articles since the beginning, you might remember the first one I wrote: "A Struggle To Find Balance." Much of what I said in that article could still apply today. Trying to do all of the work, go to class, talk to friends and family, hang out with friends, go to the gym, take some time for me and so on. It's really hard trying to accomplish all of those goals every day. Honestly, I don't accomplish all of them every day I just try my best to accomplish as many as I can. It is really easy to feel like you aren't doing enough in college. Right when you're done with one assignment, there's always another one to do. Trying to find a balance between being productive as possible and still allowing yourself to breathe can be hard. In college (and in life in general) it is important to celebrate the little victories. Be proud of yourself for the things you did accomplish and know there is always time to keep working on tasks the next day. Celebrate the things you checked off of your to-do list rather than stressing about what's left.
I hope this provides a little insight into what college students go through. Going to college is a great opportunity and I would recommend everyone go but it's definitely challenging. However, nothing worth having comes easily. If you want to have a college degree you have to earn it and work for it. Going to college may be hard but I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.