(The content of this article is based on my own experiences as a Simmons student.)
Going into my freshman year, I had a lot of assumptions about what my college experience would look like. Between TV, Social Media, and countless adults telling me that these would be the “best years of my life”, there were plenty of unrealistic expectations that I had bought into. However, it was soon apparent that the versions of college displayed amongst popular culture did not exist in normal circumstances—let alone in the context of a global pandemic.
To all you incoming freshman, I would like to debunk some popular myths about the college experience.
1. Don’t expect to make friends immediately.
Making friends is difficult in any setting—especially via Zoom your freshman year. Many of you were probably expected to be on campus, meet your roommates, and become best friends with your peers outside of class. This is increasingly difficult in a virtual environment, but take my word for it: friendships take time regardless of the circumstances. My friendship group is still everchanging (even as a junior).
During college, there are a lot of people who very easily come and go out of your life. Between the influx of new students and the graduation of others, the people you are surrounded with change semester to semester. You must make a conscious effort to stay connected with the people you care about.
So, get out there and take advantage of every virtual event that you can! The only way that you are going to meet new people and start forming relationships is by putting yourself out there. It may be difficult, and it may not happen immediately, but putting in that extra effort now can make all the difference once you are back on campus!
2. You can be happy without partying.
I am all for a good party, but one’s college social experience is not measured solely based on the numbers of raves they have attended. The great thing about being in Boston is that there are a variety of fun opportunities in our own backyard! My fondest memories of Simmons were the times I spent exploring the city, taking too many trips to target, getting lost in the MFA, and cramming all my friends into my room for movie nights.
We may not be able to take part in all these pastimes because of Covid, but there are many safe alternatives to these activities. Host a virtual movie or game night, check out those museums (which I hear are opening again), or pack a picnic when the weather is nice.
When it is finally safe, feel free to party to your heart’s content. Just know that partying is not your only means of having fun.
3. You are not required to meet your “soulmate” in college.
College is a time to make mistakes, grow, and find oneself. However, there seems to be this false idea that you must find our life partner in college or run the risk of dying alone.
This is not true!
It may seem like everyone around you has a perfect relationship, but most people are still just stumbling around in the dark. College is a time for you to focus on yourself and your own happiness. It is completely fine if this scenario includes a partner, but most students don’t have the time or energy to commit to a healthy relationship.
Do not feel pressured to find your happily ever after by the time you graduate. You still have your entire life ahead of you.
4. There is no set timeline.
Like many other students, I entered college with an ideal timeline in mind (Declare my major sophomore year, study abroad my junior year, graduate after 4 years, and if all goes well get an amazing job). In retrospect, this was an unrealistic and privileged way of viewing my time in college. If this pandemic has taught me anything, it is that we cannot predict our futures and plan for every case scenario.
Taking an extra year or semester to get your degree doesn’t make you a failure—as many people may be misconceived to believe. You are not lazy for taking extra time! Burnout is real and everyone is experiencing difficulties during this pandemic. If you need to take time off to care for relatives, make some money, or even just to cope with the trauma of current events, do it! No one worth your time is going to judge you for doing what is best for your education and plenty of people are in the exact same boat.