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Is College Really the Best Four Years of Your Life?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Alabama chapter.

College is the best four years of your life, at least, that’s what everyone says. For most of my childhood, I listened to adults reminisce about the “good old days” when they would drink a beer before class, and party with rock stars in the city. They regaled me with stories of wild nights, big accomplishments, and lasting love and friendships. I came to college with the expectation that nothing that will happen for the rest of my life will top these four years; I’m going to find my bridesmaids, my future husband, and get a degree that will earn me a six-figure job by the age of 25. Now that I’m halfway through a bachelor’s degree, I can confidently tell you that it’s all bullsh*t.  

            I’m not going to sit here and tell you that college is terrible – because it isn’t overall. Like everything, it has its moments, but it can also be an exciting time. I will tell you what college is not: the best four years of your life. There’s this tale that everything in college is so amazing all the time, and it just isn’t true. You’re taking interesting classes, forming life-long relationships with people from all over, enjoying newfound independence, and figuring out who you truly are. Only half of that is true, and none of it is pretty. Those classes that are interesting? They’re challenging you like you’ve never been challenged before; you must ask questions, be present in class, and try hard to earn the grades you want. Those new relationships will prove to still be tumultuous at times. With independence comes loneliness, fatigue, and lots of tears. And whoever said that finding yourself is supposed to be this beautiful journey of self-discovery must have been joking. That being said, I don’t want to scare you off – interesting classes motivate you to work harder, tough relationships build your character and allow you to find genuinely good people, independence prepares you for life after graduation, and seeing yourself truly can be a wonderful thing.  

I’m simply tired of the way college has been romanticized. News flash: you don’t have to be perfect all the time. Most of the people around you also have no idea what they’re doing – everyone is just kind of hurtling into the abyss and hoping that they land on solid ground. Don’t exhaust your psyche trying to be the leader of four clubs, get straight A’s, go out every weekend, and somehow manage to work out four times a week and have perfect skin. You’re going to hate your life – I know I did when I tried to do it all.  

From the first day of freshman year, to the day you get your diploma, the only thing you must do is try your best, be yourself, and give grace. I truly hope that these are not the best four years of your life. I hope they’re formative, and I hope that you learn a lot about yourself and the world. I hope you don’t let your struggles overshadow your triumphs. I hope you feel everything: the hurt, the joy, the love, the heartbreak. I hope you make friends, lose friends, and maybe meet your future husband. I hope you don’t settle. There is so much life to be lived, so live it without imitations and expectations. College is great, but there is still so much life to live after it’s done. 

Megan Johnson

Alabama '24

Megan is a writer for the Alabama chapter of Her Campus. She is a junior at the University of Alabama and currently double majoring in English and Creative Advertising. In her free time, she enjoys reading, art, shopping, and being with friends. She has a passion for social justice and loves to give advice, watch movies that make her cry, and FaceTime her sister just to see her cats.