If you’re in your last year of high school at the moment, congrats, you’ve probably recently received your college acceptance letters. If you’re in college right now, congrats, you probably want to crawl into a ball and die because finals season is coming up and you’re ready for your butt to be kicked. Either way, whether you’re looking forward to starting college or you’re already ready for it to end, we can all agree that college is a really exciting time (when it’s not driving you crazy). You meet a whole new crop of people, you might be away from home for the first time, and you play by your own rules. Plus, you have more opportunities to travel, you’ll take classes that change your life, and you can hook up with people without worrying about your parents finding out.
Still, as somebody who has been through college, I think it’s only fair that I’m honest with you guys about what it’s really like. I think that we–with the help of pop culture–have a tendency to glamorize the college experience in a lot of different ways. Is college really the time that you’ll discover yourself? Do you really have that much freedom? Are your college years the real “best years of your life” or is that a bunch of BS? Here are 11 cold hard truths you need to know about college so that you don’t graduate with a ton of disappointment.
A Lot Of Petty High School BS Still Happens At CollegeOh, you thought that mean girls, holier than thou know it alls, and a-holes who snicker in class would be a thing of the past when you entered college? HA! HAHAHAHAHA. Sorry to break it to you, but no, that dynamic is still alive and well. There'll be cliques in your dorm, gossip swirling in your social circles, and jocks who think they're better than everyone else. Some things never change. Legally Blonde
You Won't Be Passionate About All Of Your CoursesWe go into college ready to take all these interesting, unique courses that are curtailed to our pet interests...which is true and definitely happens. But you'll probably also have some required courses that you're going to dread going to because you DGAF about them, at all. On top of that, you'll have to buy an expensive textbook for that class you couldn't care less about. Try to get as many of those classes out of the way in your freshman year, TRUST ME. I learned this the hard way. Dear White People
It Can Be Really Hard To Make FriendsThis was probably the biggest shock for me in college. Your milage may vary, but as somebody who never had trouble making friends before, I figured that college will be a breeze. Honestly, I didn't even make a close friend until my second semester. Unless you befriend the people in your dorm, you're going to have to make a strong effort to form bonds in college. Talk to that girl who seemed cool in that one class, find an excuse to talk to that guy you always see in the common room. You've got to do what you can or else you'll be super lonely. Fresh Meat
College Parties Are Rarely As Cool Or Fun As They Seem In MoviesThe nature of college parties honestly depends on the college itself. A huge school with a strong campus culture might have loads of fratty parties, while a school that's scattered around a big city might have a party culture that's a little less 22 Jump Street and more...Skins party. Meanwhile, a tiny liberal arts college might have a way more laid back party scene. Either way, college parties usually aren't as crazy as they seem on TV and your fun level is completely determined on whether or not you're surrounded by the kind of people you actually want to be around. Animal House
That High School Relationship You Want To Cling On To Will Probably Die Within Your First Year At CollegeYes, you'll hear about couples who successfully continued their high school relationship into college. Those are incredibly rare occurrences and shouldn't be seen as the norm whatsoever. Long distance relationships are hard, especially when you're both flung into a totally new environment and are becoming different people. You're both growing and changing, so try to make it work if you want, but don't be surprised if the love fizzles out by the time you're both home for the holidays. That '70s Show
Your Sex Life Might Not Be Poppin'You might have your ultimate sexual awakening in college! Or, you'll, uh, get no action at all. You're not guaranteed sex in college, and believe it or not you won't be alone if you graduate college as a virgin or someone with very little sexual experience to speak of. You have plenty of years ahead of you, many of which won't include awkwardly trying to have quiet sex while your roommate is sleeping. Girls
You Need To Figure Out Your Major Sooner Rather Than LaterIf you haven't declared a major from the jump, expect some to tell you to just take your time and not worry about it. While you shouldn't make rash decisions about your major, it would behoove you to figure out what the hell you'll be studying sooner rather than later because you might waste time taking courses that aren't even requirements for your future major, which means you could be spending more time playing catchup than you intended. Also, whenever you decide your major, try to stick to it unless you're absolutely miserable or want to go in a totally different direction. It's a painful process that could keep you in college longer. 10 Things I Hate About You
College Might Be A Good Time For A Mental Health CheckSome say that college is the time when you truly find yourself. Honestly, that's sort of BS because we're constantly finding ourselves and that happens beyond college, too. But you'll definitely go through some shifts in perspective, identity, and potentially even mental health. Our early 20s is when mental disorders like depression, anxiety, etc can make themselves known in a big way. That, on top of academic stress? Yikes. Take care of yourself and make sure to see a school counselor if something feels off. Empire Records
Nobody Is Going To Really GAF About What College You Went To After You GraduateThis was the biggest surprise to me when I graduated college and entered The Real World™. Like...you might be super proud about getting into the college you did, and you might be super amped that you graduated suma cum laude, and all that crap. But guess what? Nobody is going to effing care. You're entering the same bleak workforce as everybody else. You'll brush shoulders with people who went to schools you've never heard of, schools that you'd never be able to get into, and schools you thought were below you. Your alma mater doesn't make you a better employee, so don't get caught up in that. A Different World
It's. So. Effing. ExpensiveYes, we know that college costs a lot more money now than it used to, but it's not just tuition that's a total money suck. Your books cost a ton of money. Your dorm necessities cost a ton of money. Your travel costs every holiday cost a ton of money. Your living accommodations cost a ton of money. Your meal plan costs a ton of money, and if you don't have a meal plan, then have fun spending a lot of money on groceries that you'll be too tired to even cook. College is such a money suck, so if you can get a scholarship here or there, do it. Otherwise, get ready for a rude awakening. iStock
You Honestly Might Not Really Love Your College ExperienceAt the end of the day, college is what you make of it. If you take advantage of studying abroad, having amazing teachers, and maintaining some great friendships, you'll at least have something nice to look back on. If you don't put much effort into it, don't expect to have fond memories. If you aren't crazy about college, that's okay, too. People seem to talk about their college days so fondly, don't they? That can make it feel a little if you only rank your college experience as just "okay." Personally, I enjoyed college, and there are a lot of things I miss about it. But by senior year? I was over it, and I have no desire to really do it all over again. It's four years out of your very long life, it's okay if they weren't spectacular. Reality Bites
What are you most excited or nervous for about college? If you’re already in college or graduated, what do you wish you knew before starting it all? Tell us in the comments!