Thanks to years of entertainment media, certain ideas about college have been perpetuated - particularly about the college experience and how college tends to work. There's also been a lot of societal expectations and ideas on the college experience.
MANY of those ideas are so untrue it's painfully hilarious. I'm here to serve the truths about college.
1. What you were in high school doesn’t matter. Neither does your “reputation.”
In high school, you were labeled as something. Your reputation was everything, and you did whatever you could to protect it because otherwise, anything that could be turned against you would be all around the school tomorrow. NOT THE CASE IN COLLEGE, despite what college movies and TV shows inexplicably portray. No one cares who you are in college. There are no permanent labels attached to you that everyone knows about. There's no being a "loser" in college, and you certainly aren't treated like one by everyone on campus because no one knows who you are.
2. It’s okay to go to community college
Community college is an amazing resource that high schools really don't emphasize enough. You're not stupid or lesser for going to community college. I wrote a more in-depth article that you can read here.
3. It's okay to stay in on the weekends
Going out every Thirsty Thursday/weekend is not necessary. Partying every weekend is not necessary for your college experience. Repeat after me: partying is not necessary for your college experience. There's a major idea that to have the full college experience, and to have a good time at college at all, you need to party. I and many others can attest that this simply isn't true. There are so many other ways to have a good time at college that don't involve drinking. That's not to say going out, drinking and partying aren't fun. They can be--in moderation. Don't feel obligated to go out every weekend. Have a nice weekend in with Netflix and friends, have some personal time. Staying in on the weekend is just as acceptable as going out.
4. Greek life is NOT necessary to have “the ultimate college experience”
I feel like I can't emphasize this one enough. College movies and TV shows make it seem like if you don't do Greek life, you're a loser and your college experience was a waste. This is so untrue.
Greek life is great in the way it provides a sense of community and sister/brotherhood, and works to support various causes both effort-wise and philanthropically. I will never deny that, as I have friends in sororities that I've seen do AMAZING philanthropic work, show an incredible love and support for one another, and actively work to make differences. The photo I used for this is actually from my friend Donna, whose sorority Delta Phi Epsilon has done incredible work to raise funds and support one of their sisters as she struggled with cystic fibrosis (read more here). They exemplify what Greek life is truly about and will turn your stereotypes about sororities on their heads.
This is a part of Greek life that inexplicably is never shown in entertainment media. But at the end of the day, Greek life just isn't be for everyone. It's a huge time (and money) commitment, and not everyone finds their perfect fit within the numerous sororities and fraternities. So while I definitely encourage you to partake in Greek life if you really want to do it, if you aren't 100% certain, please don't feel pressured to do something that in the end, certainly won't make or break your college experience.
5. You may not find your significant other and/or bridesmaids there
There's this idea that college is where you'll find the love of your life and/or the friends who will become your bridesmaids. Speaking from personal experience, this isn't always true -- and it's not the end of the world if you don't. You'll have so much more time than the 4 years of college to find the friends who you'll want to stand by you on your big day, if you haven't already. Same goes for your SO. So don't feel like you're a failure in any way if this doesn't happen for you.
6. Don’t post party pictures every weekend
One, no one actually cares that you went to yet another party and took pictures with your friends that look almost identical to the photos you took -- and posted -- last week. Two, and I'm going to sound like an annoying parent on this one, you don't want future employers to find your social media filled with images of you constantly partying...especially if many of those are dated from when you were still underage. Those "privacy settings" don't really hide anything, darling.
7. Snapchat streaks aren't an alternative for friendship
You may have snap streaks with a bunch of people, but when you think about it, how many of them do you actually communicate with outside of Snapchat? How many of them do you actually hang out with? You may call someone you have a snap streak with a friend. I certainly consider people who are willing to stay in communication via even that one app a friend, because it's still a commitment to contact and conversation. But more often than not, this probably isn't true. For your own sake, don't claim that someone you have a Snapchat streak with but haven't actually spoken to/seen in person a "friend."
8. Nobody actually knows what the hell is going on
Even the people who seem like they have it together don't always know exactly what's going on. It's totally okay to acknowledge that you don't know what you're doing.
9. You may not stay friends with everyone from high school
Once everyone goes their separate ways and starts new lives, it's inevitable that some drifting apart will happen. Some friendships make it through, but oftentimes, they don't. However, DO NOT let yourself go into college with the automatic expectation that your high school friendships will fade away. It's up to you and your friends to keep it going, to find ways to keep your relationships strong. Get some tips on how to maintain long-distance relationships here.
10. You'll learn how to prioritize relationships -- and leave behind the bad ones
As time passes by, you'll learn who your real friends are. The ones who truly make efforts to be in your life, to talk to you and be there for you like you are for them. These are the relationships you'll learn to place higher in your life. And the people who don't do the same for you, who don't give you what you need a relationship, those are the ones you'll learn to leave behind.
11. Not everyone is your friend like you think they are
You are going to make mistakes in some of your friend choices. Some people just aren't ready for the maturity college requires, which means they won't be able to give you the kind of relationship you need.
12. Making friends might be harder than you expect
There's no guaranteed that you're going to find your Rachel, Monica and/or Phoebe. It may take a while to find someone you click with, no matter what the size of your college. You could meet someone your freshman year of college that you become close friends with, and it'll fall apart. Some people may instantly fall in with a crowd and find their people, but just remember that this isn't always the case -- AND THAT IS OKAY.
13. Pick your professors wisely
Your professor can make or break the class. Rate My Professor will become your best friend in no time. The site allows students to review and rate a professor, giving you an idea of what they're like, if they're a competent teacher, and if they're actually a decent person. And if they'll treat you like an adult and not talk to you like you're kindergartners (it happens).
14. No one actually cares what you’re wearing
And if they do, just read this to remember that their opinion of you doesn't matter one bit.
15. Cliques aren’t just a thing in high school
Joan Marcus, Mean Girls: the Musical
It's hilarious that people actually think cliquishness ends in high school. This couldn't be further from the truth. People don't automatically become more mature once they start college; many of them take at least the first two years (and sometimes more than that) to outgrow certain high school behaviors.
16. College really is the place where you find yourself
It's a time of greater independence, where you're fully immersed in an environment that revolves around whatever you're choosing to study. Because of the intense workload, the social struggles you may face, and generally learning time management, college is where you start to get a better idea of who you are as a person. You begin to figure out what you want for yourself out of life, who you want in your life, and just what exactly you can be good at (or bad at!).
17. It won’t be perfect, but you gotta roll with the punches
There is no such thing as "the perfect college experience." It's pointless to even expect that your college experience will be even remotely perfect, because what exactly does "the perfect college experience" even mean? Everyone views that differently. When college throws shit at you, just roll with the punches and take it one day at a time.
19. Rent your textbooks whenever you can
I advise renting books because a, it's cheaper, and b, you're most likely not going to use them as heavily as your professor will make it sound. I had a professor require us to get a textbook that was $100, which I found for $50, THEN NEVER TOUCHED AGAIN. Proceed with caution in this area.
19. Yes, you actually have to study to do well
C's most certainly do NOT get degrees. Especially if it turns out that class you got a C in turns out to be a pre-requisite class for a different course...and you need to have gotten at least a B in for the course to qualify as the pre-req. Studying is hard and you have to make it a priority if you want to do well in class. You'll actually have to do the readings you're assigned. Chances are, the professor will teach the material in class but also expect you to have read the text -- and if you don't, good luck on the exams.
20. There is no right way to “do college"
This goes hand-in-hand with the whole "there's no one perfect college experience." Everyone moves at their own pace, and everyone does college differently. Never allow yourself to feel like you're "doing college" wrong, because there is absolutely no such thing.