What I wish I knew about the college experience

By Jasmine Smith, May 4, 2021

“College will be the best time of your life” is a phrase that is always used when describing college in movies or to high school students. I’m not saying college is horrible by any means; however, I wish I got a heads-up beforehand. 

When I was growing up, I believed being in college meant joining a sorority and going out every weekend. The movies highly glamourized Greek life as almost a rite of passage for incoming students. Surprise, surprise, the college experience doesn’t always include joining a fraternity or a sorority. Although they are fun ways to make connectionsthey aren’t the only way to socialize. I realized this during rush week of my freshmen year; I signed up to rush, but I didn’t even end up going. Why? I made friends in some of my classes, and I didn’t feel the need to join a group of girls that I might not vibe well with. 

Those friends I made my freshman year are still my best friends four years later. Having a lot of friends is fun, but it won’t necessarily make you any happier. In my opinion, having a close-knit group of friends allows you to really get to know the people you allow into your life. It’s so easy to get lost in a sea of “friends” that are disingenuous. For me, I found three people who have similar qualities as me, but each have their own unique personalities that I admire. One friend has this unfiltered honesty no matter who she’s speaking with, and another friend is the most compassionate even to those who wrong her. I think it’s important to find people that make you want to be better and not make you feel bad about who you are. 

I will admit, though, that it’s easy to succumb to the pressures of your peers, especially when you are new to college. I know it sounds cliche to bring up peer pressure, but it’s important to remember it’s easy to fall into the pit. A pit of bad habits can not only ruin you mentally but emotionally as well. Some students go to college ready for a taste of freedom, and they don’t know how far is too far until they wake up alone and don’t remember what happened. I have experienced times where I acted out of character because I didn’t want to be a “buzzkill” and ruin the fun. Don’t change who you are to fit a mold because one day you will wake up and not even recognize the person in the mirror. 

Being alone isn’t as bad as it sounds. Sometimes I need alone time to re-center myself because life is like the weather; it’s always changing when you least expect it. I know traditionally when you see someone alone you think they’re a loner, but that isn’t always the case. Having moments to yourself to think about who you are and what you want for yourself is refreshing. When people constantly surround me, I can’t always grasp what I need and how I feel. 

Finally, pay attention to how you feel and how certain people make you feel. Trust that gut feeling that you have, whether it be people, classes or jobs. There is a good chance you are right about it, so never question yourself.  

Four years sounded like such a long time when I started college, but, in a blink of an eye, it’s about to be over. I’ve made some mistakes, and that’s okay because I learned so much from those moments. Have faith in who you are and who you’re becoming because it’s you against the world.  

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