Why College Isn't (And Shouldn't Be) the Best Four Years of Your Life

Picture yourself on the day of your high school graduation. You’re surrounded by friends and family, looking back on the fond (or not-so-fond) memories you’ve accumulated over the past four years. And, while you might tear up at the thought of leaving your best friends behind in a few months, you’re filled with excitement and anticipation for what you’ve been told will be “the best four years of your life.”  

Maybe even as early as middle school, children in today’s society are fed the idea that college will be the best time of their lives. As high school students, we hear this notion more and more, until one day we’re standing outside our college dorm, anxiously awaiting the adventure we were promised as a reward for making it through high school.

But what happens when this isn’t the case? What happens when, instead of instantly making a ton of friends and finding your soulmate, you’re met with unforeseen fears and doubts? Here’s the thing: there are a million great things about college. You’re not in class for seven hours straight every day (unless you are, in which case you should see an academic advisor about that), you can eat Cheez-Its for dinner (I do not recommend this), you don’t live with your parents, etc.

That being said, there are also aspects of college life that aren’t so glamorous, like roommate drama and struggling with the thought of what to do with your impending future. Growing up with the belief that college is supposed to be the best four years of our lives carries with it an immense amount of pressure. What happens if you fail a class? If you decide on a major and then realize it’s not for you? If you think you’ve found “The One” and then you end up breaking up?

The problem with believing that college is supposed to be the most amazing time of our lives is that it leaves us with disappointment and frustration when we fail to meet our own expectations. College is a time for trying our best, making mistakes and learning how to pick ourselves up and learn from those mistakes. College is a place where we should be free to experience failure without the idea that this is as good as life is going to get. Because guess what? It’s not.

The time we spend at college is meant for academic development, personal growth and learning responsibility. Many of us fail to understand that college should not be our peak years, but instead it should prepare us for the future and provide us with the necessary knowledge and skills to live our lives to the fullest. So if and when you find yourself discouraged because you think you’re required to be living your best life, remember that it’s ok to be uncertain, it’s ok to be frustrated and it’s ok to make mistakes.

[Photos courtesy of Google Images]