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Transitioning to College: Expectations versus Reality

College is over-romanticized in the books and movies. Based on the way stories depict the “best four years of your life,” I was conditioned to think that everything would immediately fall into place: constant adventures and friends for life, all of the college cliches. I know that I’ve only been at college for a total of two months, but I was a bit discouraged to find that with all good things, reaching those expectations will take time.

College isn’t all fun and games, or at least not at Brandeis. A good portion of my week consists of sitting for hours at end in the library while trying not to be distracted by all the people gossiping loudly around the surrounding tables. When I finally muster up the strength to leave the library, having finished only one thing on my long to do list, I’m usually strategizing in my head the best place to eat lunch alone. Not because I have no one to eat with, but because it’s unrealistic to assume that all three meals of my day will be a social, lively experience.

I thought, like most of my peers, that I would love everything off the bat. This is a naive assumption. Who would want the peak of their college experience to be their first month of freshman year? I certainly wouldn’t. Don’t get me wrong, so far I’ve been enjoying myself, but it hasn’t been by partaking in the stereotypical college shenanigans that the books and movies depict. It’s been by simply sitting in someone’s dorm room and having a good conversation. It’s been by getting really excited about an obscure subject or idea. It’s been by being at a place where I feel absolutely no social pressure.

Even though I’m constantly surrounded by people, I didn’t expect to have so much alone time, but that’s also the beauty of college. If I want to do something, that doesn’t mean I need a friend to accompany me, I just go and do it and no one cares. It’s nice feeling independent and capable.

I’m so excited to see where I’ll be four years from today. I’m eager to know if my initial friendships will stick or slowly dissipate. Beyond that, I’m excited to reflect on my college experience as a whole, and if it didn’t match my over-romanticized assumptions, then that’s okay too because very rarely is life perfect like in the books in movies, nor should it be.

Rachel Skolnik

Brandeis '22

Rachel Skolnik is a first year at Brandeis University. As of now, she plans to study english, art history, and possibly business. Her interests include walking her dog, reading, traveling, and many other things!
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