The Collegian
Wednesday, February 28, 2024

College expectations vs. realities, according to a first-year

<p>The tower on Boatwright Memorial Library. &nbsp;</p>

The tower on Boatwright Memorial Library.  

By the time I made it to college, I had already met a couple of harsh realities. One, that high school came and passed without a single resemblance to “High School Musical,” and two, that the college admissions process took a little more effort than Elle Woods’ video submission in “Legally Blonde.” 

Despite being misled in the past, I was still wide-eyed and optimistic. Here are the top things that I was expecting in college: 

Expectation 1: There would be a party every single night.

Before going to college, some students, like senior Dana Morcillo, come in with an idea from what they’ve seen in movies and television that college is going to have a crazy social scene.

“I feel like there were two very different views,” Morcillo said. “There was the ‘High School Musical’ view and ‘The Neighbors’ view. It was like people have fun doing extracurriculars and it’s a very pure type of fun. Then there was the you-go-crazy-in-college view.”

College is often depicted as one big party with some classes on the side. I always heard about a raging sorority and fraternity scene with parties every night of the week. Once I got to college, I quickly realized that the party scene is just a small aspect. Considering the amount of work you have in college, usually the party is found in the library and the drink of choice is coffee.

Expectation 2: I would have plenty of free time.

Time was something I expected to be different. Having come from eight-hour school days that are followed by extracurriculars, and then by homework, the idea of extra time seemed like a reward high schoolers received once reaching college.

“For me, college was always depicted like you have all of this free time, you get to pick your own classes, choose your own friends and basically be independent,” Morcillo said. “Which I think is funny because that’s not really how it turns out.”

First-year Sally Hou said she felt the same way.

“I thought I would have a lot more free time since we manage our own time, but there is much more work,” Hou said.

Adding to the disbelief, the summer before the first semester starts, the incoming students are given their schedule of two or three classes a day and, if you are lucky, even no class on Friday. I was quickly met with the harsh truth that free time is more of a misconception. I seem to have more work that fills up those open spaces that once lit up my eyes. And possibly even scarier than having no time: I am forced to manage my own time.

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First-year Elle Lee said:  “I thought I’d have more time for myself. I don’t. There are so many things you need to do homework-wise, test-wise and social-wise. It’s kind of hard to manage your own time and to actually make time for yourself.”

Expectation 3: College would be the best experience ever. 

Incoming college students are not only influenced by the media of the late ‘90s and early 2000s, college graduates also seem to offer their two cents on the college experience. Often regarded as the “good old days,” the four-year span of college has a lot to live up to.

“I’ve always heard these would be the best four years of your life and that it’s really fun,” Lee said. “I know that I am having fun so far.”

Perhaps sayings such as “college will be the best years of your life” are not just the quickest way to describe four years, but rather  truly depict that these will be some of the best, most memorable years of our lives.

“As a senior now, it’s weird just how it’s a prophecy that came true,” Morcillo said. “Looking at one year left, I want to cram as much fun stuff in. Once college is over, it’s like this is the real world with a job and bills to pay.”

College may not be quite like the extremes you see in the movies and you may not have all of the time in the world, but one thing that seems to remain constant is the idea that these four years will be memorable and important before you head off into the real world. I hope this is the case, because then I’m in for a great ride. 

Contact lifestyle writer Caroline Bisese at

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