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My Expectations About College That Had to Break

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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 MSU chapter.

As I finish up my freshman year at Michigan State, I’ve been reflecting on who I was before I came and how that changed. I was incredibly nervous and full of expectations — both good and bad. Now that the year is under my belt, I can look back on those expectations I had and see what happened to them.

Dorm Life

When I first moved into my dorm, I was surprised to see that we were surrounded by men. I knew that my building was coed, but I wasn’t expecting there to be a room full of boys across the hall from us, next to us, and across from them. I was a little disappointed because I thought me and my roommates would get to know the girls on our floor and potentially be friends. We did end up talking to them a bit. I’ll be honest, we didn’t try very hard to be friends with the boys (in our defense, they certainly didn’t try either). It was a little sad to come to terms with the fact that I would have a lot less options for friends. However, I was still happy that I had three roommates who I thought could fit into my life well.

Friends

With that being said, a similar expectation I had was that I would find a friend group of my own. I loved my roommates, and still do (a lot), but I wanted to find more like-minded people outside the dorm to form my own relationships with. I’m a little disappointed to say that I haven’t really found that yet, as making friends at a huge school is incredibly difficult. I definitely expanded my friend circle with mutual friends that I share with my roommates, and friends in my clubs and classes, although I didn’t really find that one group to call my own. While I’m a little discouraged by this, it comforts me to know that I have a wonderful network of individuals that I know and love.

Free Time

Before getting to college, you always see those coming-of-age movies and shows that portray college as one big, fun party. I didn’t expect it to be entirely friends and free time, but I thought I would have plenty of room during the weeks to explore and do cool things. Unfortunately, I quickly realized that this isn’t always the case. 

My first semester wasn’t too bad, as I was able to join a couple of clubs and experience some fun adventures. However, as my classes progressed, I started having more and more homework and less and less free time. I started getting really overwhelmed with everything I had to keep track of, and I ended up finding new ways to ensure I got everything done. After the first semester ended, I felt both accomplished and exhausted.

Now, I don’t know why I went from that to deciding to take even more classes in the spring. I was excited about all the options for things to learn about, so I enrolled in as many classes as possible. I took 18 credits in the spring semester, and obviously my workload got even heavier than it was before. I had even less free time, and I definitely felt that as the weeks went on.

18 Credits

When I decided to take 18 credits in the spring semester, I was aware that it would be more work than the previous, but I wanted to do it anyway. I’ve always been good at school and keeping up with assignments, and I would still say this about myself after this busy semester. This being said, it has definitely taken a lot out of me to keep it true. 

Not only am I in class more than I was last semester, I also have a lot more work to do outside the classroom. I have been handling it pretty well, but it has definitely taken its toll. My brain is constantly on, running through a list of all the homework I could be getting done. Even when I’m finally relaxing for the night, I feel guilty for not working on things, even if they’re not due for another week. It’s pretty exhausting, and I’ve realized I’m teetering on the edge of a burnout. Although I’m confident that I will finish out the semester well, it’s going to take the last few bits of motivation (and sanity) that I have. 

I will say that I am still glad I took 18 credits because it put me ahead in my track to graduate. However, I will probably not do it again because it was so difficult to manage. If you’re thinking about taking 18 credits, I would encourage you to try it once, but make sure you’re prepared with planners and other strategies to stay on top of things.

Multiple Clubs

Being at a big university is great for all the club opportunities. There’s a club for pretty much anything that you’re interested in. I found a few that I joined and tried. I later found that it was kind of hard to keep up with them all. The clubs that I joined all met later at night, which is nice for avoiding class time. However, I realized it was surprisingly tiring to go from a full day of classes to a late night club meetings multiple nights a week. I enjoyed it for the first semester, but found it hard to keep up with when I had more credits on my plate. I needed as much time as possible for homework and class readings, and I had to take a break from a couple of clubs. Of course, I stuck with Her Campus and have made it a priority over other clubs.

What I have loved about trying multiple clubs is that most of them are very chill when it comes to participating in meetings. Although I had to take a break from some, I know that I can immerse myself in them again next year, and they will welcome me back. I’m glad I chose to stick with Her Campus, as it provides me a secure outlet for my hobbies and interests while I navigate the busyness of classes.

With my first year of college coming to a close, I can’t believe how many things I tried and experienced. Although some of my expectations and hopes weren’t fully realized, I’m still so grateful for what has happened. I’m sad to go home and leave my roommates, friends, and extracurriculars, but I’m excited to relax and recoup before coming back to school full swing.

Alayna VanDoeselaar is a writer for Her Campus at MSU. This is only her second semester with HCMSU, and she is looking forward to all the amazing things that Her Campus will bring! Alayna is a freshman at Michigan State studying English with a concentration in creative writing. She loves writing short stories, poetry, and lifestyle articles! She hopes to go into editing, publishing, and writing in her future career. In her free time, Alayna likes to read, write, look for new music to listen to, and go thrifting. She can be found on Instagram at @alaynavand.