The Louisville Cardinal

Column: College expectations and reality

By Anna Meany

All incoming college freshmen have certain ideas, hopes and expectations about their first year. Let’s hope you don’t think college is exactly like “Animal House.”

For me, my first semester did not measure up to my second. During my first few months at college, I made several good friends and a few enemies, changed dorms, and totally bombed my first exam. My second semester began much more smoothly.

One annoying and cliché realization about college was the workload. Remember the insanely easy high school tests that required little to no studying? Forget them. College GPA points can quickly be lost by tricky test question wording, the lack of extra credit, and very little homework to pad your grade. I’ve spent most of the night studying on several occasions because I didn’t hit the books until midnight. It’s super easy to get caught up in dorm lobby fun and ignore the 10-page paper waiting for you upstairs. It’s even easier to call your mom crying because you just got a 43 percent on your college algebra exam and you feel that you’ll probably lose your scholarship.

Upon entering college, I expected to meet a lot of really cool people, and I did. I was sick of my high school graduating class. Attending college away from home gave me a chance at a new start and an entirely new group of friends. If I learned one thing from freshman year, it was to avoid judgments of new friends. Also, try to keep from just sticking with your hometown friends. There are plenty of people to meet on campus.

Honestly, freedom isn’t handed out in college residence halls. I expected to have a ridiculous new kind of freedom in college, more than just eating whatever I wanted and leaving whenever I wanted. However, having visitors and creating noise can get you in trouble in your dorm. Your resident assistants are like younger mommies and daddies to you.

Another surprise is that concrete box you’ll be spending your time in. I found my dorm room incredibly oppressive to my creativity. Dorm parties, walking to the Thinker statue at 3 a.m., and even taking trips to Ville Grill can make living on campus much more bearable.

So what’s the moral of the story? You should approach college with an anticipation of uncomfortable and exciting changes. Personally, I imagined that my focus in college would be more academic than social. While my classes and GPA are important, I think my freshman year is summed up by the relationships I’ve created and broken, while trying to discover the person I want to be. Now that we’re leaving, I find myself sad that I won’t be seeing some of my new friends for a few months. Here’s to the good times and the memories made. Make sure you make some good memories too.