Image from Life Unfluffed

Blame it on TV, movies, or maybe even your college-aged friends, but we all have certain ideas about college life when we first step foot on campus. Scratch that: We all have uncertain and, later, completely incorrect ideas when we first step foot on campus. While these ideas vary from person to person, and their verity will vary from college to college, here is just a selection of my freshman misconceptions about college life.

Expectation: Everybody at my private university will be from all over the United States, and they’ll all be just as in love with this school as I am.

Reality: Most students stay close to home for college…and you can’t really expect them to be in love with the old tree in their backyard, can you?

I can say this both from experience and from extensive research (read: a quick Google search). According to Fox Business, 38% of college students stay within 50 miles of their home for college.  The overwhelming majority of my classmates are from the East Coast, and a good portion of those students are from upstate New York.

Whenever I say, “Oh, I’m from Arizona,” a lot of local students will say, “What? Why would you come here?”

Expectation: All Ramen, all the time.

Reality: If there’s one thing a college campus has, it’s food. 

Freshman meal plans tend to be dining hall-heavy. As a result, a ton of your food will probably be real, cooked food. Even better, real food cooked by someone else.

Yes, there are those nights when you’re starving at one in the morning and dining halls aren’t open, but even then, you can get by without Ramen. You can certainly stock up on some food that you can cook yourself. Most schools have a store for students to buy food items, using your meal plan, which might include Ramen but could just as easily mean pasta and alfredo sauce, fruit, peanut butter and bread, ice cream…. And freshman meal plans tend to be expensive enough that you can afford to buy some higher quality foods. By the end of my freshman year, I had $600 left in Declining (meal plan money), and I hadn’t opened a Ramen pack even once.

Expectation: I’ll be off campus all the time.

Reality: I’ll be in my dorm room all the time.

There’s not a lot to do where my school is, but I haven’t even done the little that there is to do. In college, pretty much anything you could ever need is on campus: your bed, your food, and the laptop where you binge-watch How I Met Your Mother. At the beginning of the year, you may need to go into the city more often, to requisition vital supplies that you left at home, but as the year goes on, trips off campus become less necessary.

Depending on your course-load, your school’s proximity to the city, and transportation, you may even find it impossible to go off-campus. A heavy workload and busy schedule might make it difficult to even find time to leave campus, except in case of emergency. If your school is in the middle of nowhere, you’ll need to a lot even more time to get where you’re going. Additionally, parking tends to be crazy-expensive, and if you don’t have a car, you’ll need to work around your school’s bus schedule.

Expectation: College Me will be radically different from High School Me.

Reality: Get comfortable with who you are, because you’ll be stuck with him/her for a while.

Do you remember being a kid and thinking that each birthday would be a big deal, a turning point in your life–and then being super disappointed when ten-year-old you was exactly like nine-year-old you, only with a few new toys? College is kind of like that.

I left high school as a scared bunny of a person, and even after a full year, I still feel uncomfortable when confronted with too many people at a time. I’ve never gone to a college party and have no intention to. Greek life actually scares me.

This isn’t to say that you can’t change during your freshman year. You probably will; I know I did. It’s just that it’s a process. I wanted to be less shy, so I made an effort to leave my shell once in a while. At the end of the day, I’m still a scared bunny hiding in a shell and mixing metaphors, but I’m on my way.

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the author

Gabrielle Scullard hails from suburban Arizona, where she is a senior at a public high school. She spends most of her life taking AP classes and crying about her future. When she is not stressing out about school, she plays viola (it’s like a violin but better) and signs in an American Sign Language choir (it’s like a vocal choir but better). She wants to be a superhero, but an internship at The Prospect is basically the same thing. She hopes her writing can help someone or, at least, make someone smile. You can find her on her Tumblr or at home, but she would prefer it if you didn't do either of those things.

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