The College Experience

So, college happened. Your academic world has expanded from one building to a whole campus. It’s been a whirlwind of new friends, dorm life, excitement, disappointment, stress, fun, and—oh yeah, classes. Can’t forget about those.

Personally, I don’t feel that different than I did just a few months ago when I was still in the K12 education system. My high school was a public school, but it was a magnet school and the total enrollment of grades 6th through 12th was only about 1,000 students. Since it was a magnet school, we didn't have a lot of what "normal" high schools had, like a football team or a marching band. One of the most common complaints of my high school classmates was that they weren't having “the high school experience.”  The same could be said for Belmont since it’s a private, Christian university. Belmont doesn't have a football team, marching band, or fraternity and sorority houses that can be found at many other colleges. It's still college, though, and saying it's not "the college experience" is overlooking the purpose of college. If you’re experiencing college, you’re having the college experience. Personally,  my college experience has been great so far, even if most of my time is spent studying. I’ve adjusted well to the new format of my education, and I love the freedom to make my own schedule where before my schedule was seven hours of class a day followed by the limited time out of school before I repeated the same schedule the next day. I do miss the more communal feel of high school since I stayed with the same people for the majority of my time in high school, but I love that I have more time out of class to hang out with my friends, even if most of that time is spent in group study parties.

Recently, I met up with one of my friends from high school who is a freshman at Vanderbilt. Even though our universities are neighbors, it was hard to find a time to hang out that worked with both of our hectic schedules. I introduced her to Chago’s (which she loved), and we talked about how we’re adjusting to college. We both felt like we're still in the weird freshman limbo stage between high school and college and that we don't really feel like college students yet. Also, it’s amazing how much we’ve already forgotten about our high school experience, like the class schedule and where some of our classmates went to college. We also talked about the mindset of thinking you're expected to cut yourself off from high school once you're in college. I don’t even know how many “college essential” packing lists I saw online that instructed me to leave all of my high school t-shirts and sweatshirts at home. Sure, college is a new beginning, but that doesn’t mean the past has to be ignored. Like college, high school is a formative time in everyone’s lives. If it weren’t for high school, you wouldn’t even be in college right now, so you don't have to completely sever your ties to your alma mater.

I brought a friend from Belmont home with me for fall break and I gave her a tour of my hometown, including driving past my high school. Seeing my high school again was weird because instead of a student I'm a visitor, but I’m still transitioning out of the mindset of being a student there. I plan to visit it again and see my past teachers and some of my friends who are still in high school because I don't want an academic year to sever my past relationships even though the gap in time has changed my past relationships. The time gap between senior year and freshman year is slim, but it's still alienating. Still, I know that after four years of Belmont I’ll have that same feeling when I visit campus again because I’ll be reminded of the culmination of my college experience just like I now look back on my high school experience.

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