Before arriving in tiny hand-me-down cars packed with random crap that probably wasn’t necessary, students are gifted with the images painted by older siblings, parents and that one teacher who still wears his university sweatshirt everyday.
“It’ll be the best four years of your life,” they said, and it probably will be. But as we take these wobbling steps into our independent lives, students first have to learn how to grasp all of the responsibilities people forgot to mention that come with the life-changing transition into their freshman year of college.
Having only one semester under my belt, I’m sure plenty of people would agree that college is not exactly what was anticipated.
It can become a tug of war with oneself. Do I do what I am expected to do as a college student, like go out to parties every weekend and drink my body weight in cheap, sugary liquor, do a keg stand and inhale four pizzas a day?
Or do I do what I know I need to do? Study for that test. Get the sleep I have lost over the week. Do the laundry that has been building itself up like Trump’s wall in my closet.
Students were spoon-fed the stereotypes of a college student’s behavior, but no one prepared them for the realities.
No one talks about how parties end at 3 a.m. or how I’ll wake up one Sunday feeling like I have a month’s worth of homework and an email inbox putting the fear of God in me.
But if I had said “no” to going to that party, I would’ve been the biggest loser to walk this campus as my friends give me disdainful looks.
I personally woke up every day of high school with the reassurance that college was on the other side of this obstacle course. But sitting here with textbooks spilling over the top of my desk and a half-eaten milkshake in hand, I question if I ever left that obstacle course. I think the arena merely became bigger and the obstacles more difficult to see.
I often wonder as I look at the students around me if we are in the same boat — are they struggling as much as me? Were they fed the same stories? Do they see the same difference that I have found between what I was told and where I am right now? And whoever can give me the same thing that the girl going out every single day of the week and has great grades is having, I’ll take two.
And don’t start with the movies that portray “college life” — those are about as spot-on as the way fast food restaurants portray hamburgers on their menu.
I can understand that showing students studying themselves to death and making alarms for 10-minute naps may not make for the best movie, and we are just one sad, smashed lettuce-less sandwich away from a lie when it comes to the way college really is versus how movies depict it. Students are given all of these prerequisites for what college students are supposed to do but unfortunately, none of those actually contribute to their GPA.
When weekends came in high school I stuck to my parents’ curfew and hung with a small group of friends who had all known each other since baby teeth fell from their mouths. But now, there is no curfew and every face I see is a new one.
Students are given more than enough rope to hang their own white flags.
I bet college will be the best four years of my life but right now, I’m just trying to make it to Tuesday.
Nicole Etchemendy can be reached at email@example.com