A Freshman Reflects: Expectations vs. Reality of First Semester

Tristan Bidwell, Contributor

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Going to college is a life altering event, and we all possess a number of expectations regarding college. These expectations range from the insanely fast paced lectures to empty pockets we’ve always heard college students possess. I intend to compare how the reality of college life stacks up with the expectations I had towards college.

For one, when I went to college I expected lectures to be so fast paced that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with notes, and in reality this was completely true. I don’t know about anyone else, but after class I feel like my hand is about to fall off. I also thought that all my classes would be just a professor standing up and lecturing for the entirety of a class period; however I was incorrect. While most of my classes have been focused upon lecturing, many of them involve activities outside of lectures, far more than I had anticipated. Another expectation I had for college involved my professors. I believed that my professors would be very cold and distant from their students; however, I’ve come to realize that, for the most part, my professors are very kind and never attempt to distance themselves from their students. Most of my professors always try to make sure we, as students, understand the lecture they’re giving by allowing us to ask questions about the subject.

When I went off to college I expected to be dirt poor and barely have enough money for food, and I was mostly correct in this assumption. Between the loans I had to draw to pay for my tuition, the books I had to purchase for my classes, one of which was over one-hundred dollars, and my car payments it almost feels like I’ll have to sell an arm and a leg just to keep up with everything I have to pay. Of course I always find a way to save enough money to pay for everything, and that leads me to my next expectation, what I expected to eat while I was in college. I had always heard that college students subsisted on a diet of ramen noodles, microwaveable meals, and, occasionally, pizza, and now I realize now just how correct this expectation was. The way I found to save money was to eat microwave burritos and ramen noodles, because they’re cheap and those meals are very filling, so their perfect meals for when you need to eat cheaply and quickly.

I’ve always heard college students that I knew before coming here complain about having to stay up all night just to study for their tests, and, while I haven’t had to stay up all night yet, I can definitely see why someone would have to do so just to prepare for their tests. College tests are much larger and far more involved than most tests I had at high school, so it often takes an insane quantity of time just to prepare for just one test. You have to either learn a plethora of terms, or you have to be familiar with at least four chapters from your textbook before you can make a passing grade on your test. The workload studying entails also factors into another expectation I had regarding college. This expectation is, of course, the massive amount of homework I expected to have while in college, and I believe we can all agree that this expectation was entirely correct. I currently have to complete a take-home midterm, finish a paper, and read two books, and that’s just the average workload one can expect from college. Of course, it is possible to finish all of this workload, but doing so requires a large time investment and you have to have quite a bit of patience to do the assignments proficiently enough to earn a good grade from it.

Overall college life is both different from what I was expecting, and exactly what I had anticipated. Certainly, some differences in what I had anticipated and what college is actually like were positive, but much of what I had expected was entirely true. What I’ve learned is that Wesleyan is far more open and inviting than what I had anticipated, but you have to be diligent and dedicated to truly get ahead here at college. That being said, I think we can all agree that, in spite of the challenges it presents, at least college is better than high school.

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