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The Illusion of the Perfect College Life

Entering the exciting world of college leads many to create expectations that fall flat…or so it seems.

Credit: FreePik


As you leave high school to enter the new world of college, there is an immediate change in the atmosphere. A weight is lifted off your shoulders as you realize you are no longer tied down to a rigorous seven-hour schedule. The chance to meet new friends, explore unique studies, and develop your personality, is granted the moment you step onto campus. Then, when you just thought you were free, that pressure comes rushing right back.

Most students have an expectation that college has to be the most fulfilling experience. Adults constantly claim that these are “the best years of your lives”, so why expect anything less? You are granted, more or less, four short years to have your most memorable journeys, to meet your lifelong friends, and to discover your dream job — sounds like a lot of work. It is easy to get caught up in how one thinks they should be living their college life versus how they actually do.

The reality of it is, these expectations are far-fetched. Similar to any new period of your life, if you already have a preconceived notion of success, it is difficult to ever be satisfied. It is important to note that not every person’s college lifestyle is the same, and one is not better than the other.

Alas, this is easier said than done; how does one simply abandon the expectations they have been building up for years?

Take it one day at a time.

It is important to embrace the opportunities you are presented with and make the most of everything you do, don’t focus on the unobtainable. Becoming overwhelmed with work is normal; nothing life-altering is going to happen if you decide to stay in one Saturday night. With that being said, enjoy the small moments you experience every day: getting coffee with your friend, or the peaceful realization you’re done with work for the week.

The academic side of college is stressful enough, without taking into account the social. The anxiety of feeling like you aren’t in enough clubs or going to the right parties or having the most friends is real for many people.

But there is no “correct” way to live life.

These years are not the end-all be-all of your youth, but if you waste away worrying about what could have been, you’ll forget to enjoy this exceptional phase of your life. In the wise words of Andy Bernard, “I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”


Jacqueline is an online editorial writer for Rowdy Magazine.


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