I began looking at colleges my junior year of high school, touring my very first one during spring break of that year. My dad and I took a weekend trip to New York, and visited three schools that weekend, and I instantly became obsessed with finding the school that was right for me. I spent the rest of my junior year and the summer before senior year researching, making lists, and touring schools I was interested in. Each one appealed to me for different reasons, but when it came down to it, I just knew I was ready to graduate high school and get out of my hometown.
When the Common App became available, I filled it out that first day, and began perfecting my essay, which I, admittedly, had been working on since my junior year. I’d finally narrowed it down to five schools I could see myself at, and after all of the acceptances came rolling in, I narrowed it down to two. The second I mailed in my deposit to the University of New Haven, I was in college overdrive. I counted down the days until graduation, and I began dorm shopping before I even got my prom dress.
Despite being so excited for college, it was a lot different than I expected it to be once I got there. That being said, I’ve compiled a list of things no one tells you about college.
1. Waking up for class at 8 a.m. really sucks.
I woke up at 6 a.m. for high school all four years, so when I saw that I had three 8 a.m. classes my first semester of freshman year, I thought it’d be a piece of cake. Wrong. In reality, nearly two extra hours of sleep, compared to high school, sounded great, but waking up at 7:30 a.m. to get ready for my morning classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday became really old, really fast.
2. Your faculty and staff actually care about you
In high school, I had a close connection with a lot of my teachers, and I was really upset that it was coming to an end. I figured I’d just be a name on an attendance sheet once I got into college, but that wasn’t the case at all. I am extremely close with multiple professors, some of which I am even Facebook friends with! Getting close with your professors is always a good idea because they likely have connections to jobs and internships, and if you’re on their good side, they’ll almost always likely write you a glowing recommendation letter, which you will definitely need!
3. The food isn’t really that bad
Sure, it’s not a gourmet restaurant, but it’s not like you’re eating out a garbage can. You’re always going to miss home cooked meals, and you’re probably going to get tired of eating the same thing everyday, especially if you’re a picky eater like me, but I promise you, the food isn’t as terrible as people might say. And trust me, when you're a broke college student, free food is a godsend!
4. Keep a close eye on your finances
I’m in my third year of college, and I still struggle with this, but freshman year was particularly bad. I had a part time job, so I always assumed I had money in my bank account to do things. Almost every weekend, my roommates and I would go to the mall or order pizza, and it’s shockingly how quickly all of that can add up. I know you’re going to want to go out all the time because your friends are, but it doesn’t hurt to take a weekend to yourself and save a little bit of money!
5. You don’t need alcohol to have fun
This was one of my biggest worries when I got into college. I’d never had a drink in my entire life, besides from maybe a sip of my mom’s wine cooler that one time, but I also never had a strong desire to drink. Sure, a lot of my friends went out to parties and got drunk, but I also had friends who were content with just hanging out and watching movies, or exploring downtown New Haven. If you choose not to drink, I promise that you are not alone in your choice, and no one will judge you for your choice.
6. Not everyone is having sex
I feel like this is one of the biggest misconceptions about college I had. Almost every movie about college seems to be filled with sex, and college actually isn’t like that at all. Yeah, I know some of my friends had their fair share of drunken hookups, but for the most part, a lot of people are not having sex. If you are, that’s great for you! Don’t forget, Health Services offers free condoms. But if you aren’t having sex, don’t feel bad because you are definitely not the only one!
7. Living alone is harder than you’d think
I was so excited to finally live alone without my parents and have freedom to do what I wanted to do, but it was so much harder than I thought it’d be. If I wasn’t feeling well, I couldn’t text my mom and ask her to bring me soup and medicine, and there was no one telling me to do me homework. Don’t get me wrong, having a lot more freedom is great, but the first few weeks I really struggled with it, along with a lot of other people I knew.
8. You will probably miss your family (and your dogs)
Going back to the living alone thing, you’re probably going to miss your mom’s home cooked meals, your dad’s incessant questions about what you did in class today, but especially being greeted by your dogs everyday. I wanted to go home all the time freshman year, but I always knew my family was just a phone call away (and my dogs just a FaceTime away), and that was always comforting to me.
9. Relationships can survive if you and your SO go to different schools
A lot of people dread college because they aren’t sure what will happen to their relationship if their significant other goes to a different school. Trust me when I say that if you both want it to work out, you will be able to work it out. I can’t speak from too much experience here, as I wasn’t dating anyone when I went into college, but my current boyfriend goes to school an hour and a half away from mine, and we still make it work. Skype is a savior. Even if you Skype for five minutes before going to sleep, it’s enough to keep your bond strong while not physically being together.
10. It’s okay to feel lonely
I struggled a lot when I first got into college. I wasn’t sure where I fit in on campus. Coming from high school, I was highly involved in theater, but when I didn’t get a role in the fall play, but my roommate did, I didn’t know what else to do. It’s extremely normal to feel lonely and like you don’t fit in at first, but believe me, everyone else feels the same way as you. You’ve just got to go out there and try new things, which brings me to my last point…
11. College is what you make of it
Good things won’t happen to you unless you go out and make them happen. I learned this rather quickly my freshman year, but unfortunately for some of my friends, they didn’t. Go sign up for clubs, it’s the perfect way to meet new friends. I met the majority of my best friends in clubs my freshman year. I know it’s seen as “lame,” but leave your dorm room door propped open. I promise you, people will stop by. My roommates and I were extremely close with the majority of the people who lived on our floor freshman year because our door was always open! College is the perfect opportunity to experiment and try new things. Don’t get afraid to take risks or try something new! You definitely will not regret it. And if you don’t like it, well it’ll always be a good memory.