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Everyone has high hopes for college. After high school, everything will be different, better and easier right? Well, not entirely. After surviving nearly three years of college, I realized that there was a lot I wasn’t prepared for or had a complete misperception of. College life is definitely a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. During high school, everyone tells you that college is the easy part, but that is far from the truth. Here are some of the unexpected realities faced in college...


1. 8 a.m. Classes Are Way Too Early

In high school, most of us woke up every day around 6 a.m., and waking up anytime after that was considered sleeping in. But in college, our perception of time has changed. We were used to a set schedule in high school, but in college, that schedule is way different and 100 percent determined by you. Waking up for an 8 a.m. class seems nearly impossible at this point. I’m lucky if I wake up before 9 a.m. For some reason, at college, you’re just so tired all the time. Actually, that’s probably because we stay up all night studying. At this point, I think I’m officially nocturnal.


2. Nap Time Is Normal

Continuing on the theme of exhaustion, college kids are always napping. The best nap times are after those long power lectures that feel like time doesn’t move. You definitely need that energy boost in the middle of the day so you can find the strength to finish your research report. And whenever I text my friends and they don’t respond within a few minutes, it’s always because they were napping. You wouldn’t think an adult would need a nap, but yes, in college you do. The irony is real.


3. There Isn’t Much Time for Too Many Clubs

When I started college, one of the first things I did was visit the org fair where hundreds of student organizations would set up booths for sign up. I was so excited to join different clubs and get involved on campus. However, what I didn’t realize was that there is only room in your schedule for a couple of clubs. In high school, it was easy to be a part of five to ten different ones, but in college, it ranges from two to three. It makes you really decide how you want to define yourself in college and what clubs you want to be a part of. Clubs are big-time commitments in college, so find the ones where you can make new friends who share a common interest with you.


4. Skipping Lecture Is an Option, Just Not a Good One

Yes, you can technically skip lecture — unless they are taking attendance. But, it’s a bad habit that will affect your grade. You need to show up in order to understand the information unless you somehow think you can teach it yourself. Be aware, though, that a lot of college lectures end up taking attendance so it’s just better to go to class. It will make studying so much easier and worthwhile!


5. Homework Is Real

In college, you are always going to be busy with work, and that includes homework. You get so much work that a five-page paper is considered short. The difference between homework in college is that you have a lot of it but it’s usually not due for a few days. For example, in high school, you’d have to read 20 pages a night and in college, it’s basically a whole book in a week. So if you’re good at time management then it’s actually fine, but let’s face it, you’ll be doing your homework the night before. In college, I always find myself doing some sort of work every day and the worst part is, this time it’s graded.


6. Yes, You Have to Study

The most typical college myth is that you don’t have to study in college. Well, I think we all know by now that that’s completely false. You have to study days in advance in order to memorize weeks worth of material. The tests aren't easy and it requires a lot of studying and focus. During finals, expect to practically live in the library.


7. You Don’t Watch TV Anymore

Since everyone streams their shows now, barely any college students watch TV. If you have a laptop and a Netflix subscription, then there really is no need to. If you have a TV in your apartment, you barely use it, and in the dorms, most people don’t even have one. Also, when you’re schedule is filled with events and work, there is no time to watch a show when it premieres on TV. When I first arrived at college my freshman year, I was so busy that I didn’t even start watching TV on Netflix until October. Your time is crucial in college and if you want to maintain a social life, study and work out, then TV becomes your least priority.


8. Your Eating Habits Change

In college, it’s very difficult to find ways to eat healthily. With an abundance of restaurants and the dining hall, it’s really difficult to properly get a balanced diet. I’m always so stressed out that I revert to binge snacking. I don’t even think I actually eat full meals anymore, especially when I’m sitting in a library all day. Unlike high school, there isn’t much opportunity for home cooked meals. I guess if you have a kitchen then you can cook, but again, that takes up a lot of time in your day — oh, and I can’t cook. So, when you go home for break, take advantage of your mother’s homemade cooking!  


You may have experienced all or none of these college symptoms, but either way, college has taken all of us on a crazy adventure. It’s your first time actually living on your own besides a two-month summer camp. As you start to live on your own for real, you realize not only do you have to maintain school work, a social life, a job and try to stay in shape, but also begin adulting. More freedom really does mean more responsibility. However, even though some of the glamorous myths about college aren't true, college is still a great time in life to reflect on yourself, find a great group of friends and learn what kind of career you’d like to pursue in the future. College is fun and exciting, with a mix of hard work and dedication!

Samantha Zecca

Wisconsin '20

Samantha is currently a junior studying retail and consumer behavior with certificates in entrepreneurship and digital studies. If she's not at the library, you can find her sitting at the memorial union terrace or trying out a new restaurant in Madison. Samantha is originally from New Jersey, but her favorite place to be is NYC going on day adventures either seeing a Broadway show, shopping, or visiting museums. From the midwest to the east coast, she has a lot to share.
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