1. Your circle of friends will change.
Moving to college will seem awesome. You go and meet the super cool RAs, attend whatever orientation program your university offers, and be with a bunch of cool “college kids”. Hell, you might even hook up with someone. I did my second day of university. Then the real college kids come, and you realize that telling stories of how cool you were in high school and about that one time you did that one cool thing won’t fly in college. You’ll get sick and tired of other freshmen, and venture out. Eventually, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a completely different group of people then when you first came, and cliques don’t really exist anymore.
2. College is not as glamorous as it is on TV.
The countless hours you spent watching Blue Mountain State and American Pie have you thinking you’re prepped for university. You know that you’ll be that one guy who’s awesome at beer pong, constantly going to parties that have unlimited, copious amounts of beer flowing from all directions, hooking up with the hottest girls (or guys, whichever way you swing) on campus, going to class hung over with stubble and a backwards cap and wayfarers, and immediately be the party animal.
Then you get to college and realize that beer is not free. If you’re part of a frat, there are dues to pay so they can afford the hooch. Open parties run out of beer in a half hour flat, and you only had a warm half beer that you found sitting on the kitchen counter. Hooking up is in fact horrible, and last week you heard that there was a crabs thing going around one of the dorms. You get yourself checked.
3. You actually do have to study.
I was a pretty smart guy in high school. I coasted through my classes, getting A’s and B’s, with the exception of Spanish. I winged almost every test there was and came out on top most of the time. The only tests I studied for was my physics tests, and even that was done half-heartedly. I figured I could do the same in university and be fine.
By the end of my first year, I had no internship opportunities, my GPA was in the mid-2 range, and I was constantly hung over. I had to get a labor job for the summer to support myself. Moral of the story: study. You don’t have to go to EVERY single party.
4. Relationships are anything but.
College relationships are viscerally different than high school ones. In high school, the two of you were mutually exclusive, you thought you were falling in love with “the one” and you were going to sail off into the sunset after high school was over.
College, on the other hand, is where a relationship is a facebook status, and little more. Everybody’s humping everybody, and you’re either part of it, or not. Don’t be ashamed of your walk of shame. We’ve all done it. Or not.
5. You learn freedom.
Eventually you get to the point where you realize that you CAN go out at three in the morning to get Burger King. You can smoke cigarettes, you can touch the beer in the fridge, and you can eat ice cream for breakfast and scrambled eggs for dinner. Nobody will stop you. Free rock concert at the park on Wednesday night? You can go. Just remember to mind number 3, lest you end up failing on your midterms.
6. The freshman fifteen is legit.
In high school I was a thrower for my track and field team, I was fit, I could run three miles, and I was good looking and athletic. I went to college, joined the Rugby club, and figured that between that and walking to my classes, I should continue to be fit and sexy. Instead, I realized that even at eighteen, daily three a.m. whoppers from Burger King and pounding a case of beer every weekend did not, in fact, give me the nutrition I needed, but instead presented me with a very real gut. You have been warned.
7. Learning is cool
Eventually, you will come to the point where you realize that learning is actually awesome. You’ll go to your professor’s house for dinner and discuss intellectual things: psychology, physics, works of literature from Dante, Shakespeare, Plato, Socrates, Descartes, and Marx. You’ll realize that learning actually can be its own reward, and it is one hell of an awesome one.
8. Home has a certain equity.
I was always used to change growing up. I moved around, and for the most part grew up overseas. Moving to the States wasn’t hard, the first six months were okay, but by the time a full year had circled without me seeing my parents and my brother, I really did miss their quirky charms. Mom’s silly laugh, my dad’s Dad jokes, and the conversations concerning gaming, computers, and the mutual hatred of doing dishes with my little brother. Home and family have a special place in one’s heart, despite the life and reputation you’ve built yourself at college.
9. You learn to appreciate the little things.
Your roommate knew you were sick and asked his mom to make you some homemade soup, or you volunteer at a local church to feed the homeless and a small child looks up to you with their big eyes and says “thank you mister” in the most adorable way. You own a pair of sweatpants and change into them after a long day, and sit on your bed drinking tea and watching Netflix. It is surprising what we can do without (eg. a kitchen, private bathroom, stable relationships, et al) when we have the little things.
10. You’re a real college kid.
This realization will come most likely around March or April when you’re under your blankets watching Game of Thrones, beer in one hand, bag of chips in the other, while you can hear vague sex sounds through the thin dorm room walls. You’ll realize that this is what college is like. You’re broke, tipsy on a Tuesday night, and watching TV shows on your computer instead of writing your Psych paper. You’ll realize that most of your clothes are from Salvation Army or Goodwill, and that by this time next year, you’ll be almost to the halfway mark of your undergraduate career. You’ll think about what life will be like when you leave in three more years. You’ll have to get a job. An apartment. You have to pay bills and do . . . grown up things.
Then, you take another sip of beer, let the crushing thoughts slip from your mind, and continue to watch your favorite show.