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We heard it in high school and we hear it now: “The college experience!” What is the college experience exactly? Who defined it? How do we achieve it?

In high school, I was convinced it meant meeting your best friends all in the span of the first month at college. From eventful nights out in dirty fraternity basements, whose floors are coated with sticky residue, to the solemn trips to the library (which will humble your knowledge of the biology of organisms almost immediately). To me, college meant new beginnings.

Almost the first week of my freshman year had passed and needless to say, I was miserable. I wasn’t meeting people whose interests aligned almost exactly with my own; my classes were difficult and uninteresting to me as I had declared “undecided” as my major; and I was homesick. It was comfortable and easy, and I missed my friends who knew exactly what each facial expression I made in the midst of a crowd meant.

As the weeks passed, I felt hopeless. “Maybe college just isn’t what it’s supposed to be if I stay here,” I thought. As I Googled “freshman experiences” on the internet, I received advice which did not seem applicable to my situation. I was lost and sad. I didn’t know what to do. I saw my friends on social media and it seemed to me that they were having the times of their lives. From sorority bid days, to new romantic relationships, I felt as though I were missing out on what college was supposed to be.

After my first semester of college, things started to take a turn for the better. I met a handful of people who seemed outgoing and agreeable. We shared many late nights at the Brody caf , talking about the previous weekend’s catastrophic memories over a bowl of vanilla custard (with sprinkles). I felt, for the first time, like this is what college was supposed to be.

A year later, as an almost-junior-in-college, I’ve finally figured it out. The college experience is not definite. It doesn’t mean that everything is fun. In fact, 50% of the time, college is a disaster. I can’t always seem to manage my course work, my friends and I have polar opposite schedules, and (real talk) my anxiety gets the best of me the better half of the time. Let’s be real, though: would I ever publicize my negative experiences? Of course not. However, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. It’s a common misconception to think that everyone is always doing well, but in reality, we all have our own demons to battle on the daily.

The college experience is whatever you want it to be. Whether it be through Greek Life, alongside your significant other, or as a “GDI” in the running club, we are constantly conforming our current selves to be the person we desire to be at the end of the day. It’s important that you do what is best for you and you alone. It may be nerve racking at first, but college truly is the beginning of you choosing yourself first.


Sophomore at Michigan State University studying Communications.
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