Back when he was still relevant, Asher Roth released a single called “I Love College,” which became an unexpected hit — blasting from the stereos of college freshmen and overeager high school students everywhere.
“I Love College” developed into such a sensation partially due to Roth’s sick beats, y’all, but mostly because the singer had some surprisingly insightful lyrics about the Best Four Years of Our Lives (for example, don’t pass out with your shoes on).
In all seriousness, though, college is wonderful, and like Roth said, it would be great to “go to college for the rest of my life” — living in this bubble where responsibilities are, for the most part, minimal and nonessential.
To celebrate this wonderful time in our lives, when we can reasonably “pass out at three, wake up at 10, go out to eat, then do it again,” I’ve compiled a list of the 12 experiences — good, bad, and strange — that happen during your four-year tenure:
1. You will develop a caffeine addiction.
I used to loathe the taste of coffee before I got to college. Now, as I’m typing this, I’ve just finished my fourth cup of coffee (and it isn’t even four in the afternoon yet). In fact, my body has become so used to caffeine that I can fall asleep right after chugging a Red Bull.
The chemical dependency that college students have on caffeine is probably unhealthy but what else is going to keep us awake (and somewhat alert) during all-night, midterm season library all-nighters?
2. You will realize that you can’t please everyone.
During college, you will learn that there will be people who inevitably dislike you — sometimes with good reason but other times without — and you can kiss their butts all you’d like, but there is ultimately nothing you can do to change their mind. It’s not the end of the world; just learn to accept this, be cordial when you see them around campus (even if they return your friendly smiles with glares designed to terrify you), and make friends elsewhere.
3. You will learn that rejection isn’t as terrible as it’s cracked out to be.
Whether it results from the professor who hates the paper you spent weeks slaving over or the boy who never texts you back, you will face rejection at least once during college. At first, it’ll sting. You’ll tell yourself that that professor might have a PhD and eight books to his name, but she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. You’ll try to convince yourself that you didn’t like that boy anyways (and his friends sucked).
However, hopefully sometime during your four years, you will realize that rejection is an inevitable, healthy part of life. Maybe you’ll follow that professor’s suggestions and revise your paper or maybe you’ll start dating boys who are better for you, but you will learn to use rejection as an opportunity for self-improvement rather than bitter grousing.
4. You will learn to value your friends.
When you’re away from your family, your friends become your most important support network. These are the people you turn to on campus when something goes wrong but also when something goes right. They are the folks who will listen to you — complaining or gushing in solidarity with you. Hopefully, your friends will also be the ones to point out instances where you’re acting like an idiot — and you will learn to listen to them because their insight probably supersedes your own, in some situations.
You will also realize what it means to become fiercely loyal and protective of your friends — people can mess with you, but they better watch out if they try to mess with those close to you.
5. You will figure out (somewhat) how to drink.
During high school, “drinking” probably entailed stealing your parents’ alcohol or begging your siblings to buy six-packs of Miller Lite from the gas station for you. During college, drinking is a whole other game. You will learn what it means to take a shot; more importantly, you will learn what it means to take too many shots. After the initial glamor wears off and you’ve spent one too many unproductive, hangover-crippled days in bed, you’ll begin to drink in moderation — well, moderate moderation.
Just remember: “Beer before liquor, you’ve never felt sicker. Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear.”
6. You will make out with a terrible kisser (or two or three).
Before you to get kiss Prince Charming, you have to go through a lot of toads, some hornier than others. During college, you will come to realize that not everyone kisses like a Fabio whose lips have been well oiled with many years of practice. Sometimes, people kiss terribly (sometimes, otherwise perfect people kiss terribly, which is the worst shame of all). They will thrust their tongues down your throat in a misguided attempt to emanate sex appeal. They will slobber all over your chin. You will be able to smell their lunch on their breath. Summon all your willpower not to vomit in your mouth during each one of these less-than-perfect encounters and use them as opportunities to improve your own technique or as fodder for funny stories later on.
(On a happier note: eventually, you’ll find that person whose kisses make your toes tingle — just wait)
7. You will feel terrible because of someone else.
High school students are known for being particularly apt at psychological warfare (can anyone say Mean Girls?). College students are even better at it — especially because we have a few more years of worldly wisdom with which to poke you where it hurts. At some point, someone will make you feel like the scum of the earth, worse than you’ve ever felt. It could be an ex, a former friend, or someone who is mean to you for no good reason at all. Though their words or actions will sting — especially in the moment and perhaps for a period of time afterwards — realize that they can only affect you as much as you let them.
8. You will start to discover the qualities that make you wonderful and unique, despite what anyone else says.
You’ve always known deep down that you’re awesome, but college will smack you in the face with this self-realization faster than you can say “bad bitch.” Your four years of mingling with Ivy Tower elites and perfecting the art of pre-exam cramming will (hopefully) lead to a significant amount of self-actualization and growth. You will begin to discover who you are behind the glitzy façade you put on for the outside world, and you will eventually realize that all of your idiosyncrasies — as strange and quirky as they may sometimes seem — are what make you special.
9. You will develop feelings for someone you shouldn’t — at least once.
It could be a professor. It could be the hot German graduate student who is always grading exams at your favorite coffee shop. It could be your best friend’s ex-boyfriend. At some point during your college career, you will fall for someone you know full well is off-limits. You’ll realize that you’ve begun to develop feelings when you catch yourself going to class 20 minutes early so you can make conversation with your professor before he starts lecturing. Or when you find yourself hanging at a particular study spot or in a particular frat more than usual on the off chance that you run into your crush.
You will attempt to nip these feelings in the bud. And sometimes, you should. But other times? You should just let them continue to chug full speed ahead.
10. You will begin to learn how to forgive people who have wronged you.
This is perhaps one of the most challenging tasks we face in life, but it is one we begin to learn to cope with during college, as we become semi-adults and the way we treat other people becomes much more serious than before. Though it may not be necessary to forget our grudges, we will learn how to gradually forgive them rather than let our anger or pain eat away at us. We will begin to realize that one mistake (or even a dozen mistakes) should not tarnish someone forever in our eyes — that their actions only reflect the fact that they are just as flawed as we are.
11. You will trim your social circle.
It becomes difficult to see your friends in college. Between classes, homework, work, the ever-exhausting internship search (especially for upperclassmen), and more homework, you will hardly have a moment for yourself — much less for other people. When you’re during high school, you are guaranteed to see your friends at least five days out of the week — either in class or at lunch, complaining about your pre-calculus assignment (ah, pre-calculus: the good old days…). During college, everyone runs on his or her own schedule, and you may go days or even weeks without seeing some of your close friends. However, even though time is a hot commodity during these four years, you will learn how to carve out portions of your schedule for those who matter to you. And vice versa.
12. You will meet people who come from drastically different backgrounds than your own.
I went to a Jewish prep school for most of my life (which probably resulted in my love of Nice Jewish Boys and bagel brunch — I take bagel brunch very seriously). As a result, the kids I knew growing up came from very similar backgrounds. When I got to college, however, I started to meet people from all over the country and the world; being able to get to know people who come from backgrounds different from my own has been one of the most enriching parts of my college experience. Diversity is the spice of life, they say, and there’s no better place to discover that than in college.