The Top 10 Surprises About Freshman Year

By Emma Martin, Student at Ithaca College

Image courtesy of Gualberto107 /

As your first year of college approaches, you probably have begun to imagine the times to come. Attending amazing, 'Gatsby'-esque parties with your new best friends and your studly boyfriend after a week of getting A's, right?

Well … that it could be the case, but it's unlikely.

College will be a new, exciting and amazing experience, but it may not be the one you have imagined. Here are a few of the typical surprises freshmen encounter upon moving onto campus:

1. You May Not Find the Love of Your Life (Right Away)

I had always imagined college as the time I would meet my future hubby. I thought an abundance of "adult" dates would be a part of the curriculum — you know, a fancy dinner, perhaps sharing a cocktail. However, this isn't exactly the case! You should be open, but don't be disappointed in you don't meet Mr. Perfect right away. And you're probably not going to meet him at a club or crowded house party while doing a keg stand! Just be patient and friendly.

2. Your Best Friends at School ARE NOT Just Like Your Hometown Friends

I was expecting to meet a bunch of girls just like the ones from home. My group immediately proved to be unique and hold personalities unlike that of my home circle, but this is a good thing!

Expand! Grow! Don't expect things to be the same, either. You had years to build friendships at home. It likely did not happen overnight, so don't expect to feel like soul sisters after the first week.

3. The Food Isn't All It's Made Up to Be

Don't overindulge just because there are so many options. Eat only when you're hungry and snack when you need fuel! Don't think you HAVE to eat 10 courses just because it's college. Be healthful.

4. There Are No Second Chances

Well, there rarely are second chances. In high school, the teachers might have taken it easy on you, but it is unlikely that your professor will accept your paper a week late. Keep in contact as you have troubles. Email them if you're having trouble or visit their office hours. Don't wait until it's due to let them know you need help. They have their own personal projects and a ton of other students, so they aren't going to have the time to make a special exception for you. Plus, you're in college now, so expectations are higher!

5. You Will Be Surprised About Your Hometown

Whether you realize you love it or can finally see how sheltered it is, you will learn a lot being away from home. Take in all of the new perspectives and cherish them.

6. There IS a Group For You

Chances are, if you look hard enough, you will find an extracurricular that fits your interests. My campus has a Quidditch team, an allergy activist group and weekly video game events. You can find people who share your unique passions, and if the school doesn't already have a group established, it's easy enough to find interest using Facebook and then bring it to the activities board.

7. The Little Costs Add Up Quickly

Buying your own groceries and paying for laundry, toiletries and school supplies can leave a serious wound in your pocket! Save up and be sure to prioritize. These may be areas you aren't used to having to fork up the big bucks for, so it's certainly something to take into account when you're tempted to shop at the mall.

8. The Parties Aren't Exactly … Magical

An overcrowded house party is fun, sure, but these packed sweatboxes with sloppy freshmen flailing about and yelling about how drunk they are often get old quick. The cops will, typically, be around to break it up in a bit. Have fun and enjoy the moment, but don't be disappointed in the parties aren't "off the chains." It can be hard to find the good spots at the beginning of the year, especially because campus police tend to keep a strict lookout during the first couple of weekends.

9. You Might Not Get a 4.0:

Just because you had all A's in high school doesn't mean you necessarily will in college. You might fail a test or even a class! Maybe in high school your English professor thought you had true poetry skill, but your professor leaves so many red marks in your margins that you can't even see what you originally wrote!

It happens. College is meant to be hard. Your professor may have a different perspective, have higher standards or maybe … they're just grumpy! Professors typically are not educated in how to teach, so they may not have the softest approach, but they usually know what they're talking about. Again, office hours are your friends.

10. You and Your Roommate Might NOT Become BFFs

You've probably always pictured late nights staying up giggling and watching movies with your roommate. This is possible, but many times, it is not the case. It is more important to be respectful of one another, and if a friendship develops, great! But stay clean, be quiet when needed and enjoy your space apart as well. Too much together time can cause fighting, and in your dorm room, that can be pretty tough!

You will have at least one fight with your roommate, as living with someone is a difficult situation and a bit of turmoil can be expected. But really, it's OK if you both have your own friend groups and don't do everything together. Some of the BEST roommates are people who wouldn't normally be friends. Be open with one another about your needs and expectations and be considerate. You're BOTH living in the space and deserve EQUAL respect and comfort. You win some, you lose some!

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