We’ve all been told at one point or another in our lives that college will be “the best four years of your life”. We’ve heard it from our parents, neighbors, and teachers, all dreaming of a place they’ve either never been and wished they had or reminiscing on a time in their life where they peaked. We’ve oohed and aahed over the perfectly green manicured grass on the quad that they glorify in the movies, the grand buildings with huge pillars, and seemingly 100 percent attractive school population.
So what happens when college is not like this? What happens when it rains 4 out of 7 days a week and you have to work weekend nights while everyone else goes out to party? What happens when you hate your roommate, you’re failing calculus, or you simply feel you don’t belong?
Everyone talks about the good times in college but no one talks about the bad. In a sense we’re almost shaming those who aren’t having this experience making them feel like there’s something wrong when it’s actually completely normal. Some people go through small phases like homesickness the first few months of school but others can find themselves facing deeper problems so much so that transferring schools might be a better option.
Going into my freshman year of college I was shocked at how many of my friends were struggling with adjusting. These were people who were outgoing, attractive, and smart. They were nationally ranked athletes, artists, and teammates. They were students who stereo-typically would thrive in a college environment, as told by society. I wondered what went wrong.
According to a 2015 spring survey of 93,034 students, by the American College Health Association, 63.9 percent of students reported they felt very sad within the last 12 months and 58.8 percent reported feeling very lonely. That’s more than half the students that were surveyed. A college freshman, who has requested to remain anonymous recalls what it was like the first few months of school stating, “I knew some of my friends were having a difficult time in the beginning of the year but they all seemed to get over it. I felt alone, like there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t adjusting as quickly. I decided to give it one more try spring semester, and if I still was unhappy I would look into transferring. Surprisingly, spring semester is completely different from the fall, and knowing that I wasn’t the only one having a hard time made it easier to handle.”
It’s time to debunk the myth that college is the best four years of your life. College is for struggling through things, getting your first sense of real independence, and figuring out who you really are. The good part about this generation is that there is no typical route. So many millennials are going out and creating their own paths and setting their own rules. Whether you decide to take a year off, transfer, or not go to college at all, the decision is yours. College is not the best four years of your life, it is only the beginning.