Why college is the worst (and best) experience

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If you would like to be a human with a steady job and substantial salary, you probably need a college degree to achieve that. Sure, there are exceptions but they are becoming less and less with every passing year. College can (and probably will) be a wonderful experience. You’ll branch out of your comfort zone, meet new people from all over the world, study new topics and hopefully find your place in the world all while maybe partying a little bit … or a lot. But don’t let “Animal House” and “Van Wilder” convince you that college is all keg stands and sunshine. There are a few reasons why college is actually the worst.

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Courtesy of Donkey Hotey

It can mean years of unpaid debt
If you are like me, four years of college means 20 plus years of paying off triple digit student loans, which could really put a damper on things to say the least. I find myself agonizing over money often and I haven’t even graduated yet. But don’t worry, you have six whole months after graduation to get an amazing job with a high salary before those bills start rolling in and Sallie Mae starts harassing you. Easy enough, right?

Dorming
Ah, dorming. You could get lucky (and I definitely did) and end up with a great roommate who respects your space and you actually want to spend time with. But unfortunately the roommate horror stories are plentiful and outweigh the miracle ones. People steal – or “borrow” without asking – they will be loud all night when you have an 8 a.m. and they’ll bring home guests when you’re relaxing on the futon with a mask on your face, because of course they will. Even when you do find a great roommate, living in such a confined space is hard. You have to figure out bathroom schedules, condense all your belongings and find a way to get some alone time in every now and then. And at least once, the fire alarm will undoubtedly go off when you just get in the shower. But despite the bad, when it’s good it will feel kind of like a permanent sleepover.

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You won’t get enough sleep
Even when you do get enough sleep, you still didn’t. Eight to 10 hours is usually enough to power someone through a full day, but in college you might need to throw a few naps in the mix as well. Five(ish) classes and a job means a ton of work, and while that is the whole premise of college, it can still suck the energy right out of you, even when you enjoy it. And not to mention the dorm beds are not comfortable and you will spend countless nights just tossing and turning trying to find a good position.

The food is terrible
My school actually has pretty decent food. Or at least, I thought it did for the first year. If your school is similar, the food will soon begin to make you sick just thinking about eating it. Even when the quality seems pretty good overall, anything that has to be made in mass quantities and last for a few days just isn’t going to be five star. And my school charges a small fortune for each meal, which really makes you realize how terrible the quality truly is. But what’s the bright side of having food that goes right through you? The freshmen 15 has no chance of winning.

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You’ll party too hard
OK, so this might not apply to everyone, but I think it’s safe to say that most college kids will binge drink just a tad more than is really recommended. (Not that binge drinking is recommended at all.) Partying might be just a passing phase or it could be the highlight of your entire college career, but at some point, you will feel the effects of too many beer bongs and tequila shots. Partying too much won’t help the fact that you don’t sleep enough and believe me, a beer belly is not going to go with your crop top.

You’ll work your butt off for grades that won’t actually mean anything
Classes can be incredibly difficult. Whether it’s because of the workload or the subject in general, you will probably find yourself in a class or two that you break your back trying to pass. This could mean many (more) sleepless nights and lots of stress tears. And yes, those tears will all be worth it when you have that degree in your hands, but the truth is that no employer cares to know what you got in chemistry unless you’re going to be a chemist. So do your best and try hard but also try not to stress yourself out to the point of mental breakdown.

You’ll be broke
So I mentioned that years of debt are awaiting you once you walk across that stage and move your tassel from one side to the other, but there probably won’t be money freely flowing during those four years either – unless you’re lucky enough to come from a well-to-do family, in which case, I envy you. If you work on campus, the pay is usually as low as it can legally be (Hofstra pays $7.25 even though New York’s minimum wage is $9/ hr) and if you work off campus, a busy class schedule won’t always give you the chance to work as many hours as you’d like. This means, however, that you will become incredibly creative in ways to use pocket change to have a good time (penny beers, anyone?). And your inner MacGyver might even have to figure out a way to eat noodles without utensils. (Shit happens, OK?)

It’s a reality check
Going from the safe haven of your parent’s house to being (almost) on your own in college can be a freeing and wonderful experience, but it can also be a huge reality check. In the long run, this isn’t a bad thing, but it can be difficult to get used to. Mom is not there to make you dinner every night or take care of you when you get sick, professors are not going to make sure you get your homework done or give you make up exams if you miss class and no one is calling you to check if you’ve been networking for the last four years and have after college plans lined up. Everything rests on your shoulders. This can really come back to bite you if you aren’t careful, but it is also a very good opportunity to grow up before you are completely out on your own.

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It only lasts four years
I talked about a lot of things that might seem like I wanted college to be over before it started, but I swear, that isn’t the case. Yes, I’m in debt and yes, I’ve eaten terrible food for the last four years and shared a bathroom with four girls, but now that graduation is clearly on the horizon, it is starting to hit me that I don’t want it to be over. College will be that reality check you need, but in a lot of ways it is another safe haven just like living at home is. All of your friends are right there, someone is always making your meals and you aren’t necessarily getting bills every month. After college, shit gets real and it happens quickly. So maybe you will party too much and you’ll be severely sleep deprived, but college might actually be the best years of your young life if you let it.

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