The Problem: The school is tiny. There may not even be more than 3,000 students at your school. Cliques form fast — and they stick. There isn’t much diversity in a clique, and it’s pretty difficult to leave your clique join a new one after freshman year. All your awful high school flashbacks begin. Everyone knows everything about everyone else. And people talk.
The Solution: Learn not to care about what people think of you, and accept that people are going to talk no matter what you do, so you might as well surround yourself with people that really care about you (and fuck what anyone else may think.). Make friends in Frisbee club, in Sociology 101, on your hall, and through your roommate. If you have friends in many social groups, it’s much harder to be labeled. Plus, it’s a great way to stretch your horizons and meet new people. Also, you’re probably going to have the same teacher more than once, which is super helpful for those juicy recommendation letters.
The Problem: Athletic life sucks. Most liberal arts colleges are Division III, which, if you know anything, means they suck. There aren’t pep rallies and people don’t wake up at 8am to drink all day and go to football games. Not saying that there can’t be the occasional good soccer game or volleyball tournament, just don’t expect your social life to revolve around athletics. Your school probably doesn’t even have a football team.
The Solution: Club sports allow you to engage in something you love without consuming your life. If you really loved softball in high school and can’t give it up, your school’s softball team is probably fairly non competitive and does not take over your entire life. Plus, your school probably has something really entertaining, like Quidditch Team. And there’s always the occasional good soccer game.
The Problem: Partying may also kind of suck. Not that people don’t go out and drink on the weekends, but you’re not going to get those insane six story frat mansion parties with strippers and endless beer until 5am. Parties usually close or get shutdown around 1 or 2, and people definitely don’t go as hard.
The Solution: Remember that the primary reason you came here was for academics, teachers, and intelligent peers. If you’d wanted to go to a party school, you easily could have gotten into one. The reason that people don’t go hard is because they have legitimate shit to do in the morning. And if you’re that kid who is ONLY known for how much hardy he can party, everyone will know you—and hate you.
4. Greek Life
The Problem: Greek life, if even existent, is tiny. I’m talking like, frats with thirty brothers. Greek life is essentially a way of putting yourself into an even SMALLER social circle where more drama ensues.
The Solution: It may be small, but it’s kind of cool to actually be able to say you know everyone in your sorority. Your pledge class may only have ten or fifteen girls, meaning you get to know everyone really well, and that’s special. You don’t get that typical Greek experience, but it’s definitely different, and special.
The Problem: People are snobby. This is because your school’s tuition is probably over $50,000 a year, and a lot of people aren’t getting much financial aid. You also have the guys who have like, six buildings named after them, the girls who sport their Chanel and Hunters everywhere they go, and the guys that rev their beamers like they own the campus. It can get exhausting hanging out with spoiled, entitled kids 24/7.
The Solution: More kids with money means nicer things. It means Patron and Ciroc at parties instead of PBR and jungle juice made with $10 vodka. It means friends who will occasionally splurge on you for nice meals and nights out, and awesome birthday gifts. And who knows, maybe you’ll get invited to stay on their parent’s yacht this summer!
6. Ambitious Environment
The Problem: Everyone is an overachiever. The frat president is probably also president of the ultimate Frisbee team or something. Your best friend will probably be somewhat involved in at least three different clubs on campus. The American Cancer Society will constantly be guilt-tripping you into buying bake sale goods at lunch. And everyone tries to do this while simultaneously having a social life AND maintaining a 3.6 GPA. At some point, you will feel like you want to explode from all of this pressure to be a perfect human being.
The Solution: Surround yourself with those overachievers, because guess what? These are the future lawyers, doctors, businessmen and women, and politicians of the world. And if you take one thing away from this experience, let it be the academics. Let it be the creative and fascinating classes that changed your view of the world and yourself. Let it be that teacher that pushed you to work harder than you ever thought you could. Because at the end of the day, that’s what you’re paying $60,000 for, right?