The ugly truth of college life

Courtney Brooks

While looking at colleges and going on campus tours many years ago, I heard something from one of the tour guides that really stuck.

courtney bw

After telling him that I planned on attending that university, which, thanks to his misleading advice, I did for my freshman year, he smiled and said, “Welcome to the most expensive, longest party of your lifetime!” Unknowingly, with that one statement, he set my expectations for the next four years a little too high and I will never forgive him for it. I quickly found out, to my utter dismay, college isn’t one huge party and isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

College puts an immense amount of pressure on us to have “the time of our lives” because if we don’t now, we never will. Growing up, we always heard our parents talking about the “good ol’ days,” and now that we are experiencing them, it seems everyone over the age of 25 feels personally responsible to remind us that they won’t last forever, as if we haven’t already realized this.
Us college students are living in constant FOMO (fear of missing out) and are under the impression that if we don’t party our little hearts out now, we’ll live in misery and regret for the rest of our lives.

So on those cold and rainy nights where we would much rather be curled up in bed binge watching Orange is the New Black, we find ourselves huddled together in an overcrowded, sweaty frat basement trying to convince ourselves that one day we’ll look back on this as our glory days… sigh.

We looked forward to living on our own and finally being free from our parents all throughout high school but no one prepared us for the expenses that came with that freedom. We have officially reached the age where asking our parents for money is frowned upon but we are way too busy with classes and clubs and sports to generate any sufficient means of income leaving us in the one constant state that never changes throughout our four years: we’re broke. Sure, a night at a bar downtown sounds like a great idea… until you remember that you either have no money, need to spend what little money you do have on next weeks supply of Ramen Noodles, or would rather save your money for the years of debt you are facing after graduation. Which is why you end up in that same frat basement, this time trying to convince yourself that one day it will all be worth it.

Speaking of age: we are mostly young, twenty something year olds trying to figure life out one day at a time. Usually, we are so stressed out we can hardly differentiate up from down or left from right, yet this is the time we are forced to make decisions that will affect the rest of our lives. It’s hard enough trying to decide which pair of sweatpants to wear to that 8 a.m. class, never mind trying to decide on a career to which we will be bound for the rest of our days; it’s terrifying, to say the least.

If I could, I would love to find that tour guide who claimed that college was just one long party and find out exactly what world he was living in, because it wasn’t this one.

College is far from that; it is a life changing experience, and there is something positive to be said for that, but it is not a party. It is a journey filled with hard work, stress, tears and fears, and if you’re lucky, a few good parties.