Doing it All Wrong—My College Experience

“It’s going to be the best four years of your life.” “You’ll meet your best friends here.” “This is the time you will discover who you really are.” These are all things they’ve said about college, and looking back on my experiences, they couldn’t have been more wrong!

As I look forward to starting my senior year next semester, it’s hard not to reminisce on all of the things I’ve gone through that have gotten me to this point. Looking back, it won’t be all of the friends that I made, or the long nights of intense studying that I’ve done only to think I didn’t make the grade after walking out of my exam, or the memories I’ve made through RSOs and sororities, or even the nights that are only a drunken blur from frat parties on Friday nights that I can hardly remember. No, for me this was not my college experience, not even close. Looking back on it, I am thoroughly convinced that when it comes to college, I did it all wrong.   

Throughout the past 21 years I am able to count on one, maybe two hands, the number of things I regret in my life. There’s the time I… never mind that isn’t very important! But, one of my greatest regrets is how I have allowed myself to interact with the opportunities I have encountered during the four years since I have graduated high school. Before now, I had no problems getting involved in events, going out and being social, finding motivation to maintain my 3.7 GPA, and finding time to live my best life. That all changed the summer after graduation as I began my freshman year of college.

It didn’t dawn on me that I wasn’t giving myself the chance to enjoy my college experience until halfway through my sophomore year when I started at Western Michigan University. But after attending two different universities and a semester at community college within 3 years red flags started to fly. After so much time it seems as though I was unable to find a place to learn and live that also felt like home. I was certain that if you were doing college right, the place you would be spending so much time, putting forth effort, and dishing out loads of money would certainly feel like home after a few years. But for me, home was a 3 hour drive down I-94 back to the East side of the state.

As semesters passed and summers came and went, I never found myself being excited to return to campus. I didn’t have any friends to call to see if they wanted to help me move back in, or even to just quickly chat with to see how their summer went or to compare schedules. When I realized my mom was one of my best friends, I knew I had done college all wrong.

When I found more pleasure in staying in my dorm room by myself on Friday nights with a box of pizza and a Netflix series loaded and ready to binge, I knew that I was doing college wrong. I knew this when I didn’t want to go out and enjoy football games or stumble around parties with the few acquaintances I did have, or even to go down and sit in the old valley dining halls to listen to gossip across the tables surrounded by groups of friends. I chalked all of this up to my social anxiety and antisocial demeanor and told myself that next semester things would be different. But as time went on and my social confidence began to make a presence things didn’t change-- I am still sitting in my apartment alone on a Friday night, pizza and wine sitting pretty on my bedside table, writing this post.

Today, as I think about all of the moves I regret making and the experiences and memories that I lacked when it came to recalling my college life, I wish nothing more than to be able to do it all over again. If I could, I would join an organization on campus to fill my free time and meet people who shared similar interest as I. I would accept that invitation to go out on the weekend to meet new people, drink too much, and make new memories. I would put on my best WMU attire for every home game and freeze in the fall winds as I sit amongst fellow Bronco fans, chanting “Row the boat!”, and “beat the Chips!” That’s right, if I could do college all over again, I’m sure this time, I would do it right!

Doing it wrong was completely my fault and by choice. I do however find solace in knowing that it’s not too late to make an effort to do it the right way. I still have three semesters left before I am out of here for good and the time for childish fun is over. It is almost time for me to really start “adulting”, but for just a little while longer, I want to be able to make memories that my older self can look back on and say “man, I had the time of my life in college.”