Don’t stress about college expectations

Holly Fisher is a senior English and linguistics major from Elizabethtown, Ky.

Entering college as a new student is like entering a new world. Life becomes vastly different from what it was during high school and because of this, it is natural to develop a series of expectations for what this new reality might look like. Having something to expect gives us something we can prepare ourselves for, which can be extremely comforting. However, these expectations are not all they’re cracked up to be.

A quick Google search will tell you partying, for instance, always makes the list of most common college expectations, and to be fair, the college party scene is legendary. Hollywood has dressed up the magnificent haze of pounding music, flashing strobe lights and an endless river of red Solo cups in more ways than can be counted to represent the average college experience.

Then comes a very large shock to all of us — Hollywood has lied.

Real college parties are not nearly as extravagant or endless, and Truman State in particular is not known for its party scene. However, during Truman Week, the parties can seem like the only part of college that matters. Greek Life uses the week to do a good chunk of its recruiting, with a pretty solid lineup of parties every night. The Hollywood dream of non-stop partying starts to seem like reality, but fair warning — unless the 24/7 party train lets off in a quaint little spot known as the classroom, you will not make it to sophomore year.

College, of course, is more than just partying, and many of our high school teachers took it upon themselves to set those expectations for us. Every time they assigned us something ridiculously over-the-top, it was only because they were “preparing us for college.” They tried to convince us they were the nice ones, and we would dream of having it so good during the times to come.

In a way, they were right. You might have 20-30 page papers and group projects that take the better part of a semester to complete, but many of these assignments are not as distressing as they sound. With a few exceptions, Truman professors often are much more lenient than high school teachers throughout the country would have us believe. They actually care about their students, and sometimes if an assignment is too stressful in addition to the rest of your course load, they will work with you on an assignment that still meets their standards and is more manageable. If there is one suggestion I wish I had paid more attention to during my early college years, it would have been to go visit my professors. They are not ruthless monsters, but helpful and compassionate people.

These points aside, one major change spawns butterflies in the stomach of every college freshman — you have become a legitimate, bona fide adult. You’re living without your parents, you have to worry about buying items such as food and toilet paper, and the words “taxes” and “bills” are no longer supposed to be abstract concepts. You are leaving the immature world of high school behind and entering the tough, responsibility-driven world of college life.

I have a small secret for you, though. The two months of summer between high school and college does not make one an adult.

We all had expectations of entering the real world when we entered college. Instead, we found blanket forts and nap times. Becoming a certifiable adult in this day and age can take some time, and luckily, you still have a few years to get it down. Sadly though, this expectation goes both ways, meaning the petty, immature drama you excitedly expected to leave behind in high school still will plague your college campus.

When facing a change as big as shipping off to college, expectations can be good to have. They give us higher standards to live up to or they prepare us for rotten situations, but they will not always line up with reality. By recognizing this and allowing your expectations to be different from the world, you can avoid the soul-crushing disappointment or simmering panic when your wall of expectations starts tumbling down. Try to live in the moment, to take life one step at a time, and I promise you will get the most out of your freshman year of college or any other situation.