Things I Wish People Had Told Me About College

The freshman fifteen doesn’t exist. The freshman thirty, however, does. I blame it all on the food they serve in the dining hall. Since you can’t afford to eat elsewhere, you’re forced to consume Depression Taco Tuesdays and I Hate Myself Western Wednesdays. All of this terrible food you’re putting in your body will only fast track the sadness you’re already feeling as a result of moving away from home. It’s like when that guy ate McDonald’s for thirty days and wanted to kill myself afterward. He couldn’t even get a boner! While freshmen boys typically have little problems with maintaining erections, eating crappy food and gaining weight does kill your life boner.

Speaking of boners, you see your roommate have sex. I mean, I didn’t SEE mine do it but I heard him. Our dorm room was the size of a closet but that didn’t deter him from getting laid. The girls always sounded drunk and moaned a lot in that fake porn star kind of way. They expressed initial discomfort with having sex while two feet away from my sleeping body but he convinced them to do it. I heard that “smack, smack, smack!” sound of his dick going into their Georgia O’Keeffe and was totally revolted by the act of sex. If you aren’t the one who’s having it, sex usually sounds like a sloppy affair best reserved for National Geographic.

A lot of your friends suck. In my first two years of college, I spent most of my time with people I hated. They were total filler friends—people I only hung out with until my real tribe showed up. It’s funny because you hang out with people who don’t matter to you because you’re lonely, only to figure out that the whole thing just makes you feel even more alienated. Who’s surprised? Not me. Lauren, Trenton, Samantha, George, David, Heather: I saw many of you vomit in trashcans, talk about your relationship problems, and smoke SO MUCH POT. All the while, I nodded my head and smiled, playing the part. Now my acting days are over. See you on Facebook!

Three things you need to know in order to pass college: Gender is a social construct, Foucault is a God, and the lesbian who sits across from you in your child development class hates your guts. That will be $60,000 now please.

If you’re a girl or a gay, you will have a crush on every Bukowski-reading douche you come in to contact with. They’ll be super sexy—too sexy for a 20-year-old—and chain smoke cigarettes and act all Jordan Catalano-esque hanging out in some corner by themselves . You’ll want to smack them and then screw them. But beware of these college boy heartbreakers. They will crush your soul with their affected aloofness and insensitivity. Having a medium-grade orgasm on his twin bed in a railroad style apartment is not worth all the tears you’ll eventually shed over them.

You’ll read that one book that changes your life and about a thousand other ones authored by some revered chauvinist. You’ll NEVER do your reading but you’ll make sure to piggyback off of someone’s observations in class so it seems like you did. Everyone walks away from college with a degree in BSing. If you didn’t, you did something wrong.

College isn’t necessarily the best years of your life (god help us all if that turns out to be true ) but they do have a dreamworld-like quality to them. You’re protected from the outside world and you live in a bubble. The only things that matter are the the things that occur within your social groups and classes. You have no real awareness of how life works beyond your campus. And you know what? You don’t care. You have the rest of your days to worry about it. For now you’re just focusing on having lots of feelings, getting drunk at house parties, and getting someone to sleep with you. Enjoy having those types of non-problems because believe me, it does NOT last.

One last thing, popularity doesn’t exist. If you think you’re popular in college, it’s only because you’re crazy.TC mark

image – Paul Stainthorp

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


More From Thought Catalog

  • Sydney

    *himself, *dorm, *child

  • Greg Z.

    Really? No one ever talks about the freshman negative five.

    • Guestropod

      yeah dining hall food was a good switch for me, in high school I ate a bacon ultimate from Jack in the Box nearly daily

  • merp


  • blob


    • Domino

      no, not really

  • PD

    So many typos Ryan! :|

  • Julia

    By far, one of the best Thought Catalog read! Spot on. Where did you go to school? Life at UGA was parallel to this. Best line: “If you aren’t the one who’s having it, sex usually sounds like a sloppy affair best reserved for National Geographic.”

  • Sophia

    This is terribly written. Typos and grammatical mistakes all over the place. Usually I’m not the type to get stuck on these things, but it actually impeded my reading. I’m really disappointed that you published this.

  • thesis

    I think half of this is only true if you’re a trust-fund kid at a somewhat-silly liberal arts school.

  • whatsfordunch

    Filler friends! …make you feel the saddest weirdest. Also attempts to find a filler boyfriend in the Jordan Catalano-esque “fuck the system” angsty book reader. FRESHMAN YEAR is the dumbest. (- University of TX in Austin)

    • Toms

      Hello, fellow longhorn!  I couldn’t agree more.  

    • KN92

      longhorns ahh what up!

  • Scott

    “I saw many of you vomit in trashcans, talk about your relationship problems, and smoke SO MUCH POT. All the while, I nodded my head and smiled, playing the part. Now my acting days are over. See you on Facebook!”RYAN O’CONNELL GETS IT

  • eatbooksforbreakfast

    Are you campaigning for Rick Santorum?  You make college sound like a worthless shitshow instead of a time for considerable growth and endless opportunities to LEARN. And you do learn about allot of things, mainly not how to make pointless generalizations like this site and you in particular seem to have perfected over and over again through the very narrow, boring lens of whiteness, which you should have learned about in college. You seem shallow and perhaps your own inability to glean any real meaning from your four years is a testament to either the failure on your part to learn something, or the failure of your institution to emphasize the importance of thinking, and how college is supposed to facilitate that….

    • Alix Harvey

      I don’t think he meant to say this is ALL college is, just things he had wished he’d known about before going. Jesus.

      • eatbooksforbreakfast

         clearly he didnt mean all college, this is still whinny, poorly written and full of sad sweeping generalizations that paint college in sad way which is fine…but over done from him in particular. 

      • StrawberryDays

        This was quite the humorous post… I think you’re taking it too seriously.

      • Jenesuispasmorrissey

        And you’re still spelling it ‘whinny’, blimey.

      • Guest


    • Jenesuispasmorrissey

      * a lot

    • lola

      I guess something you don’t seem to understand about Ryan’s articles is that he likes to JOKE and be SARCASTIC and that he’s not making generalizations expecting everyone to accept it as absolute truth. He just points out some funny little quirks in things that many people go through.
      I think poking fun at an experience is a great way to have more humor in your life.

      I think the more we try to make every moment a meaningful and profound experience the more detached we become from realities and the ability to find humor in a situation.

      so chill dude.

  • Tara

    Filler friends is so true. I’ve avoided filler friends by getting a guinea pig and avoided freshman 15 by eating like the guinea pig. But, because of my guinea-pig-for-friends, I don’t find that college is all about finding someone to have sex with next. Yeah, sure, it’d be grand, but who knows how to please you better than yourself? And, it’s hard to find someone when you’re closeted and in a school full of jocks. 

    • tom

      This really is so true. Everyone is just a fair weather friend to make you not feel alone!

  • USF

    What college in SF did you go to Ryan? 

    • kook

      Sounds more like a college in NY?

  • Bealtaine

    Thanks for the heads up!:)

  • Sophomore

    This is very true for me.  Filler friends are the worst and so are dining halls and campus jobs.

  • Kelsiemarshall

    ” You’ll NEVER do your reading but you’ll make sure to piggyback off of someone’s observations in class so it seems like you did. . .”

    Story of my life right now as I’m sure it is for everyone else (except those kids you piggyback off of and to those kids, well, I salute you). 

  • Freshman

    I find the filler friends thing definitely applied to me in high school, I didn’t really like my friends there that much I just hung out with them so I had a social life really. But in college I have made some really good friends who I actually like and have the same interests etc. About the food though, SO TRUE

  • Jess Romo

    This was fuckin’ sexy and made me laugh. Awesome.

  • Bennettm09

    this article describes my college experience for the first 2 years anyway exactly.  i go to mcgill, im guessing you probably went to a fairly big university too but maybe not.  as usual, couldnt relate to your articles more.  

    • Extremeknibbs

      I went to McGill and made the best friends ever there. I consider almost everybody else filler friends. But the caf did terrible things to my figure. TERRIBLE THINGS!

  • Eric

    Hmmm, filler friends? I guess there were a few. That last paragraph is SPOT ON! and yes, everyone does walk away with a degree in BSing. Oh college, I kind of miss you now.

  • Tanya Salyers

    Try going to a HUGE state school..experience is a little different.

  • Gregory Costa

    I never really had friends as an undergrad…I always considered them classmates.  My closest friends are still from high school, and I picked up a few more in grad school.  I’m sure I’m not alone on that one…….People ages 18-21 are stupid.  They’re all stupid. 


    This is about 0% true for me, but I’m also a sorority girl at a big state school so who’s shocked here?

    • Gregory Costa

      I’m surprised you were sober enough to type…wow, with proper punctuation and everything.  Good for you!  (avoid any suspicious drinks)

      • LF

        Rawr.. someone’s nasty

      • Gregory Costa

        Nah, nah, it’s all in good fun.  Guest and I go back a long way.  I’ve known her for 10 hours.

  • Miranda Edwards

    um. $60000?!!? More like $80000 for a state school…….and $200000 for a private. Gotta love college. 

  • Space mtn

    freshman year was magical because i had three boys who expressed their love for me.  one committed suicide in april of 2010 after drinking and taking a bottle of aspirin, supposedly because he felt like he was alone, even when he was with me.  
    the second wasn’t even considered by me.  he was nice but he was desperate. 
    the third was an Estonian exchange student.  he was everything i ever wanted but he only wanted a good fuck.  
    of them all, i miss the suicide one.  because we were the same person.  i tried to die one year later after severe depression from his, but i knew in the back of my mind he was still there

    • Guest

      This is so sad…

    • um


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