Thought Catalog
March 13, 2017

No One Actually Has Their Shit Together In College

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Unsplash / Noah Hinton

If there is anything I could tell you about high school, about college, and more importantly about life — it’s that it is okay not to have your shit together.

All you hear throughout high school is to make sure you get good grades, make sure you are involved in your community, make sure you are a diverse student — join clubs, play in the band, be part of the sports team — all so you may or may not get into the college you want.

While maintaining your good grades, you have to also keep up with your chores at home, make time for friends and family, and for some people maintain a job so that you can pay for college, because it’s not cheap.

You’re lucky if you can balance playing on a sports team and keeping up your grades. I’m not saying it is impossible, I’ve done it, but that’s not the point I am trying to make.

The point is that you don’t have to have your shit together. You don’t have to make a decision on what you want to be for the rest of your life. You should be more focused on what kind of a person you want to be.

There’s something you should know about the college application process — it sucks. You need to get letters of recommendations, you need to make sure they send over your transcripts, you need to be make sure you have all the requirements, whether it be a high SAT score or two years of a foreign language.

Did I mention you have to pay to send in your applications? Lets not forget about scholarships, because as I mentioned, college isn’t cheap.

Also guidance counselors don’t actually tell you about all the scholarships you can apply for and the ones that they do — well you need to have your shit together, because most of them require a specific degree.

Don’t even get me started about FAFSA. Saying that word makes me cringe. FAFSA is this stupid form you have to fill out if you want to the government to give you money for college.

I think it might actually be the worst part of the college application process. It’s the one time that I would recommend having your shit together, or at least making sure your parents have their finances together.

You finally get to enjoy the rest of your senior year around April. You have your senior trip, senior prom, and graduation — all exciting things.

However, now the worrying amplifies. Did I pick the right college? Did I declare the right major? Should I have retaken the SATs?

I wonder what the college dorms will be like. I wonder what my roommate will be like. What if she doesn’t like me? Am I going to do well in college? I wonder if my parents will miss me.

I thought about it all nonstop. I was so worried, I still am, but what I’ve come to realize after my first year is that it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter if you picked the right college or even if you declared the right major, because you can always change it.

This is the time of mistakes, you are not required to be perfect. So what you don’t like your roommate? Maybe she’s messy, learn to live with it or talk about it, but the question that never really seems to leave your mind, that will probably never leave my mind, is what the hell am I doing with my life?

As your prepare for graduation, everything starts to hit you. No more seeing the same faces that you have been going to school with the past 12 years.

No more having to attend that one class with the teacher you hate. No more being treated like a little kid. No more having to see your ex everyday in the hallway and no more listening to that one girl bitch about every damn thing.

I don’t know what was more stressful, the summer before my senior year or the summer after. It was a pretty close tie until I was tasked with deciding on what color I wanted my room to be.

To some people, this might not be a big deal, but I had to find the right room theme. You start ordering stuff here and there. You finally get your class schedule, and tour your “future” home one last time before heading off in August.

You try and enjoy your summer as best as you can, whether it’s relaxing by the pool or working a summer job.

Most importantly, you try not to think about how in a few short months everything that once was familiar won’t be anymore.

I think that is the hardest about the transition from college. It wasn’t checking a box or filling out the stupid FAFSA. The hardest part was trying to prepare yourself for what the end of summer was going to bring — change.

You won’t have your mom to do your laundry for you. You get to pick what you eat for breakfast — and let me tell you the choices are endless. You get to decide who you are going to be in college.

There’s a flaw in the system. High school doesn’t fully prepare you for the real world, let alone college.

They give you advice about the social aspects of college. They tell you things like, make sure you leave your dorm room door open so you make friends, make sure you have shower shoes, make sure you have a rain jacket and rain boots.

They tell you that you should make nice with your professors, they are there to help you. But what they don’t tell you is that the first semester of your freshman year is both exciting and stressful.

You are meeting new people every time you step out your door. You are trying to find your “squad.”

In high school, they don’t teach you how to study. I’ll tell you something, I coasted right by. I didn’t have to try. I was naturally smart and popular — a tad conceited. I had a harsh reality when I went to college.

I had to put in at least two hours for every hour I was in class. You have to learn to juggle your mental and physical health (the freshman 15 may or may not be real) and you have this idea, I know I did, that you have to get straight A’s.

College isn’t like high school. You not only have to write papers and take exams, you have to go the extra mile. You have to attend every office hour you can. You have to join study groups, and when you aren’t out drinking, your butt belongs in the library.

I am now a sophomore in college. I have declared a major and you know what some days I think I have my shit together, but most of the times I am lucky if I don’t have at least one mental breakdown.

All the things I worried about were pointless. I mean everyone is bound to worry, it’s natural human instinct. But it doesn’t matter if I skipped that party or attended that bonfire. It doesn’t matter where I went to school or what I majored it, and it especially doesn’t matter what people think or say about my choices.

I am living to please me, and if anyone tells you that you need to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life at 18, tell them to screw off, because I am lucky if I can make the decision of what I want for dinner.

It’s okay not to have your shit together, we are all a work in process. TC mark 

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