What I Wish I'd Known Going Into College

I love the month of April for a few reasons. First, it’s the start of the (mostly) warm, sunny spring weather. Second, April is when the end of school and classes start to seem like a reality. Finally, April is the month in which most high school seniors decide where they want to go to college.

I remember this time last year, when I was a high school senior. I remember how cool it was to see the last of my undecided friends commit to schools. I remember how excited I was for prom, the senior boat party, graduation, and all of those other events that I waited all four years of high school for. Mostly, though, I remember how much I was looking forward to going off to college. I felt so ready to live on my own and do all of the fun things that I’d heard so much about from my older friends.

The pre-college hype is definitely well justified. College is an amazing experience for many reasons. It’s really exciting to finally be on your own. You’re living in the same building as your closest friends, going out to fun parties and events every weekend, (hopefully) taking interesting classes, and doing many other exciting things that you could never do in high school. I’m not trying to deny any of that.

That being said, no experience is perfect and college is certainly no exception to that fact. All of the “ups” of college are coupled with equally as pertinent “downs.” The fact of the matter is that college is hard, especially in the beginning. No matter how independent you may think that you are, it’s probable that you’ll miss your family. The new people who you meet might be the most incredible people in the world, but you’re going to miss your high school friends. Sometimes, you might even feel like you don’t have any friends. You and your roommate might fight. A new location and new living space are going to take some time to get used to and you’re not going to love your new college town unconditionally right from the start. Your classes might be hard, boring, or both.

I wish that I knew these things going into college. It's not because I’m a pessimist or because I think that college is a horrible, unenjoyable experience, but because I would have been better prepared for the inevitable downs of my first year. It’s important to be excited for college, but it’s also important to recognize that, much like any experience, it’s not going to be perfect and that’s OK. College isn’t perfect for anyone, no matter how it looks on Facebook or Instagram.

If I’d known these things coming into my freshman year, I certainly would have been better prepared. I wouldn’t have felt like there was something completely wrong with me or my school if a few things weren’t going perfectly. So, to those who are in the April pre-college hype just like I was a year ago, I say this: be excited, but recognize that it’s OK for a few things to go wrong here and there. After all, if everything is good, then nothing is.

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