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College: Expectation vs. Reality

College: Expectation vs. Reality

There are so many underdog high school movies where all the character wants is to get out of the house and go to college. Movies such as A Cinderella Story, High School Musical 3, and I Love You, Beth Cooper all end with the characters going off on their college journey. Ending a movie this way leads audiences to believe that this is the happy ending that they should be looking for and that once they go to college, everything else will fall into place.

Throughout my high school experience, everyone in my school looked towards college – this bright light at the end of the tunnel.  Everyone longed for the day when they would get into a college and leave every aspect of their old life behind. So, when I got to college and things weren’t perfect right away, I started to panic. The college experience portrayed in the media lead me to believe that the second I got to campus I would meet my best friends, be out partying immediately, and find the love of my life. Of course, none of this happened. Not getting that immediate satisfaction that I was promised made me doubt I would ever have that college experience.

My generation has been accustomed to this idea of immediate satisfaction; with all of the technology that we have, we expect to get things with a push of a button. I knew that I would miss my family and friends, but I thought all of that would be glossed over immediately with all of the fun I was having. Instead, the surprise I felt made me miss the familiarity of everything my home offered me. The high school that I had once been so determined to get away from now didn’t seem like such a bad option.  

I wondered for a long time if it was just me – if other students were feeling the same way I felt.  Looking around, I tried to gauge if people were having more fun than me, if they were already feeling settled into their new lives. In this kind of atmosphere, you cannot help but compare yourself to others around you. It took me a long time to stop comparing myself to other people and to realize that the expectations I had set for college were too high for just being the first two weeks in a new school.  

What the movies and tv shows don’t show is the transition period and the time it takes to get comfortable in a new environment.  They express the newfound freedom and fun that you do have eventually, but in an extremely short span of time. The problem is that even if the movies had told the truth, one can never really understand the college experience until they’re in it. Now, I’m only four weeks into my freshman year so don’t think that I have all the answers, because I don’t. I’m still not accustomed to being on my own and living in a brand new place, but every week gets a little bit better and I meet more and more people as time goes on. Nothing is perfect right away, especially something like this. It probably won’t be for a while until I feel fully comfortable being a college student, but I’m getting there. What one has to remember is that the expectations set out are not the reality and that “every great thing starts out a little bit scary.”

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