I have completed my freshman year of college, my first year of being out on my own and in the world. It's a rather strange feeling. The year seemed to blow by. I don't remember high school going that quickly. In fact, as I recall, freshman year of high school seemed to take an eternity.
For the first time ever I'm sorta ambivelent about summer. I want to go home, but I don't. When summer came during high school it was always the best thing that had happened since last summer. This year not so much. Part of it may be going back to living at home with my parents. After a year of being with out parental oversight the thought of having to spend four months living under their rule again is not a pleasant one. Then again, getting to eat home cooked meals again rather than dorm food will be brilliant.
My parents predicted a number of things about by time in college (admittedly many of these were when they were not happy with me only), some turned out to be true, some not.
1) "If you can't live with your brother you're never gonna be able to live with a roommate."
Yeah, this one amuses me. I never could get along very well with my little bro. Or with the rest of my family really. There were always scrapes and squabbles. Music battles, bedtime arguments, etc. I live on a weird sleep schedual. Wake up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep. So often as not I get up and try to work or what not. This often woke up my parents (bloody light sleepers) and they'd yell at me and try to make me go back to bed... for what little good it'd do. Well this one didn't pan out. I didn't get into a single argument with my roommates and I started the year crammed into a triple. When we all wanted to listen to music we stuck in head phones. When I got up in the middle of the night I was quiet and kept the lights off, when they stayed out late they were quiet and when they woke me up I didn't complain. It worked out great.
Observation 1: living with roommates who you are not related to and who are your peers is very different from living with your family. Especially parents.
2) "There'll be drinking in college and probably drugs."
This one they got right. But it really didn't bother me. I used to be the sorta kid who followed the drinking and drug laws to an absurd level. As in I'd never even take a sip of my parents wine if offered. I was always extremely uncomfortable if people were drinking around me. But at some point I got over it. I've long held the belief that we should lower the drinking age to 0 and legalize pot. I don't think the government should be allowed to regulate activities on the basis that they are self-destructive. I just never wanted to drink or smoke myself.
This year my suitemates were a bunch of kids whose principle form of entertainment (WoW aside) was drinking and getting high (pot only). I was a little worried it'd bother me at the beginning of the year. Turned out it didn't bother me in the least. They were amazingly considerate about it. When they were smoking or drinking it wasn't in my room, but my suitemates room on the otherside of the bathroom. I was welcome to go join them if I wished, but they wouldn't foist it upon me. Occationally they would cheerfully insist upon me trying one drink or another, but I never had a problem turning them down. And you know what? Pot smoke doesn't bother me nearly as much as tabacco smoke. It actually smells kinda good. Still not in a hurry to try it, but I no long mind the folks around me doing it. They all get really happy when they do
Side Note: I'm now more than ever convinced we should legalize pot. Some of the nicest people I know are the ones who are permahigh. And gateway drug be damned, it's no different from tabacco or alcohol in that respect.
3) "You're going to be in trouble when you hit college if you don't learn to do your homework."
This one turned out to be both true and false. "Homework" in college is very different from "homework" in high school. All too often the high school homework was busy work. Or it had little to do with anything I cared to learn, or was so easy to became boring.
In college this didn't hold true. Since I chose my classes it was always stuff I wanted to learn. The homework was never busy work. There was always a point to it. There wasn't nearly as much of it. And finally, it was worth much less gradewise than in high school, so if I felt I already knew what it was on, I could always skip it with little penalty. The only danger came in my being mistaken about already knowing it and not needing to do it.
That was another difference. If I missed class or missed homework that I didn't really understand, I felt it. I had no clue what was going on in class the next day and did poorly on the test. That wasn't the case in high school. A missed class was easily made up and I almost never did the homework and yet did fine. In college, if you fall behind in class you're screwed.
Observation 2: College classes move fast and are actually challenging. There's no such thing as a class you can miss and skippable homeworks are rare. Do the work or you're screwed.
4) "You will have to work hard in college."
Yeah, this one couldn't have been more true. And holy crap it was hard. I've never had to really work hard at school before in my life. It sounds arrogant... but its true. College has been entirely different. For the first time ever I've found my self badly badly stressed about school, working my butt off... and still not getting it done... still falling behind. For the first time ever I've given it everything I've got and it wasn't enough. Now that was a new experience. Always in high school when I failed at something I could always point to somewhere or something where I hadn't given it my all, where I hadn't really tried. Not so in college. The few weeks before finals I was working as much as I could possibly force myself to and it still was not enough.
On the other hand I can point to things that I can do better next year, so its not completely hopeless. Part of the problem was overloading myself. I took the max, credit load with 2 programming intensive comp sci classes. Not doing that again. I missed a week of class due to sickness: note to self - attend class unless in the process of dying.
Observation 3: There's a reason there's a cap on the credit load other than "the college is bloody greedy". Eighteen credits really is hard.
A number of other things I noted over the course of the year:
Relationships carried over from high school rarely seem to last. I know of 3 cases where they've lasted so far, but I know of far more where they've collapsed... often rather spectacularly.
People change during college. Just over the course of this year I know I've changed alot. So have my friends, both here and at home. Do people ever stop changing? I'm beginning to think not.
If you are a college student who knows how to program a computer, you have a job. A lot of my friends have had difficulty finding summer jobs. But my friend and I who are comp sci majors and programmers haven't had trouble at all. I've got a job for the summer and a number of job options for next year. He has a job for the summer and had several jobs this year. Programming work is in abundance, and while most of it doesn't pay enough to be a real job, it's more than enough to support a college student.
Science majors have it good. Yes we have to work hard, but we're pretty well set if we do alright. Grad schools will pay our tuition and pay us to TA and after that we can work our way into academia if all else fails. We can stay at college for our entire lives if we want. It ain't a cakewalk and it doesn't pay millions, but it seems a lot more straight forward/easier than folks who major in history and english. We know of at least one path where we can get a pretty sweet job, and it's a path that by and large pays for itself.
Coming out of high school I had a direction, a point. I thought I knew who I was, where I was going and how to get there. I still know where I want to end up. But how to get there? No clue. And who the heck am I? A year in college made me rethink who I am. Made me reconsider a lot of beliefs and opinions. And it made me look a lot closer at who I am and some of the things I've done. It made me a lot less comfortable with who I am. Not uncomfortable, per se, but much less sure of myself. Much less sure about my actions, much less sure about my motivations. Are they the right ones?
I still don't feel like an adult. I still feel like a kid. I'll be twenty in another 2 months, but I don't feel much different than I did at seventeen. I don't feel ready to have a real job. I don't feel ready to go to grad school. I don't feel ready to have my peers and friends start marrying and having kids, let alone do that myself. I felt ready to get to college at seventeen, I was eager to get to college at nineteen, but I don't feel nearly ready to leave it yet. It's a good thing I'm only a freshman.
You're going to be bored out of your mind over the summer. I always got bored out of my mind even in the three weeks between summer semester and fall, when I was at my parents' house. And I'd always look at them like they were crazy when they asked where I was going and who I'd be with. They were more strict then than they were when I was in high school!
Alcon, I know completely what you mean about the whole work aspect of university. In high school, I was able to coast by with a 95% barely doing any work, but when I got to 1st year of university, everything changed (I'm in science - though biochem - as well). In my first year, I tried at first to continue with how I was doing things in highschool, and I quickly learned that you actually needed to put in alot of work to do well.
Now I did discover this, but that didn't necessarily mean I changed my habits, because I thought (and still do) that first year was less about academics than about adjusting to the huge change in your life, making new friends, and experiencing the other social aspects of university. In the end, I finished my first year with a decent GPA (3.6) and a ton of amazing experiences (and a different girlfriend, which highlights another one of your points).
Second year was alot different (as it will be for you)! I don't know if where you are you still live in res after 1st year, but here in Canada, we generally move out of res, and that alone has a huge impact on your college life. It's much easier to study and concentrate (as much as I loved having a roomate, there were some downsides), and your social dynamic changes alot, as you now live in a house or appartment with a few close friends (rather than a whole res).
All in all, the first two years of university are both incredible, but in different ways. In 1st year you really do develop as a person, and in 2nd year, as an academic (in my experience).
Posts: 441 | Registered: Jun 2005
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quote:Relationships carried over from high school rarely seem to last.
I go to Georgia Tech, which is 70% male. My boyfriend (whom I met in college, didn't have one in high school so I don't know how I would fit in with this) observed that it was based on gender. Girls would look around and go, "Wow, there are so many guys here, and I can have any one I want!" and break up with the guy she'd been going out with in high school. Guys would look around and go, "Wait, there aren't any girls here! I'd better stick with what I've got!" and stay with their high school girlfriends. If you looked around a month or two into the semester, it pretty much held true.
I just finished my first year of college, and I pretty much agree with the sentiment of your post. The only difference is your being ready and yet not ready to go home. I wasn't even close to ready. I live 1000 miles away, and have much more in common with my college friends than my high school friends. I'd much rather be there. My parents have pretty much resigned themselves to the fact that this is likely my last summer at home.
Posts: 1547 | Registered: Jan 2004
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