The phrase “College will be the best four years of your life” has always made my stomach feel as if it was somersaulting uncontrollably down a mountain and off a cliff. As a current college sophomore, this sentence has been uttered to me too many times to even keep count. I understand that these words are spoken with the intention of kindness in order to induce excitement rather than fear as we enter this stressful time in our lives, but I believe that these words have done more harm than good.
During my junior and senior years of high school, there was so much pressure placed on us to find the school that would give us the “typical college experience” which usually included an abnormally adorable college town, killer parties, friends that become “family”, and moving as far away from your parents as you can possibly go. We choose to ignore the fact that college is actually really terrifying and challenging for a seventeen year old and only focus on the parts that society glorifies which gave my high school self an unusual amount of anxiety because of this unnecessary amount of pressure to create the greatest four years possible.
I began my freshman year of college jittery, but enthusiastic about moving five hours away from home to school with a beautiful campus feeling nothing except ready to battle and conquer the “best” four years. Reflecting back on that year I discovered that five hours is actually really far, I decided to switch majors, and I even transferred to a different school only an hour away from home in the Big Apple completely opposite from my first choice. These decisions were accompanied by a ton of stress, anxiety, and a dissimilar kind of support than I was so accustomed too since my support system was so far away.
Society forgets about the ones who choose an atypical path such as transferring, taking a gap year, commuting, or in programs where they are graduating in five, six, or even seven years. These people are not “missing out” and just because they aren’t choosing to live up to the expectations of what college is “supposed to be” doesn’t mean that they are miserable. College is emotionally, academically, and financially really really hard which no one likes to discuss.
College is a different experience for everyone, but college will most likely not be the best years of your life unless you have a truly horrible life regardless of how, when, and where you choose to earn your degree. The fun and the friendships and the excitement doesn’t come to a halt once graduation rolls around. You’re still going to make wonderful friends when college is over, you’re still going to learn new things and here’s a secret, you don’t have to be enrolled in university to play beer pong. College is just another milestone in your life just like anything else.
College is awesome, no doubt about it. There are going to be some really interesting and cool people who will enter your life. You’re going to take the weirdest classes and have the strangest discussions with some really intelligent people. You get to kind of be an adult for the first time without having all the responsibilities of being an adult like grocery shopping or making your own dentist appointments. There are still going to be bad days though because life still goes on in college.
As I was scrolling through my Twitter feed recently, I couldn’t help, but notice all the back to school tweets. Here were some of the highlights:
“If you don’t go away to college, you’re really missing out”
“If you’re not ready to go back to college at this point, you’re at the wrong school”
“If college isn’t the best time of your life, you’re missing out”
“Only 45 more days until move it day please come faster!!!”
Our generation tends to constantly be jumping to the next thing and disregarding the past. When you go to college, that doesn’t mean that your life in your hometown is over. Instead of moping around that you’re not in college getting blackout drunk until four in the morning or with your “real” friends, maybe dispose of the countdowns and try enjoying the place where you came from. That place and those people made you who you are so they should still hold a place in your heart regardless of whether or not you see a future in that town. All those days that we spend waiting for the next thing are days that we aren’t getting back so might as well make the most of them.
College is going to be great regardless of where you go. Don’t make the mistake of going in with the expectations that they will be the best years of your life. They are just simply years of your life that you should try to make the most of just like anything else because ultimately, we are enrolled in college to earn a degree and to expand our knowledge of the world so that we’re ready to take on anything that is thrown at us. We have no idea where life will take us or what’s going to happen. Things can change in the blink of an eye and we seem to forget that sometimes so just embrace life as it comes. Let’s make all of our years special because we only have so many so let’s raise those red solo cups to that.