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A lot of people like to say that college is the best years of your life. They reminisce about those days and they think to themselves "if only I was back in college again." The reality is that college is not the best years of your life.
There are a lot of reasons behind this but first, let me tell you that since graduating this past May I have never been happier. Life is more exciting and I feel like I have more purpose. I'm free to do what I want and I have been discovering more about what I actually want to do with my life.
Before I dive into my reasons, I just want to say that I am incredibly grateful that I was able to go to college. I know there are a lot of people out there that wish they could and can't. I know that what I'm writing may sound like a small price to pay for the education that you get but I'm just sharing my own opinion. I just think that college was an incredibly stressful and difficult time and here's why.
We are all told that we need to go to college in order to get a good job and live a great life. We are forced to pick something to major in right off the bat and will most likely end up switching change majors multiple times. (I did three times.)
When we are so young we have no idea what we want. We just go to class and pretend that we're where we are supposed to be. We believe that accounting, nursing, or even psychology is our passion. Although there are some people that truly know their passion from an early age, the majority of us won't and discovering it is difficult.
The crappiest part is that there is no guarantee that going to college and getting a degree will do anything for you. So many people end up in jobs and careers they hate and find themselves extremely unhappy with their lives.
I myself got a journalism degree and I knew when I picked this major that I didn't want to work in a newsroom. I just knew I liked writing so I figured why not just major in something where I could write. I started in psychology, changed to nutrition which made me switch schools and then tried public health before finding journalism. Today, I am working part-time as a marketing assistant and I took zero classes on marketing in college.
Picking a major doesn't really mean you'll end up working in that field. You could be working a job completely opposite of what you studied which is most likely because you couldn't find a job in your field. College leaves a lot of uncertainties in your life and it's tough to accept them. People just go to college in the hopes that something amazing will happen for their career life and sometimes it does but often times it doesn't
Drinking & Partying
This is one of the most exciting aspects of college for a lot of people. The idea of drinking beers at a college party is what a lot of college freshmen drool over. The reality is that once you go to a handful of these parties the charm is gone. You begin to see how sad it is as you watch people drink themselves into oblivion.
Instead of doing something more exciting with your life, you begin to continuously join in on the overconsumption. You find yourself hungover more than sober and struggle to do simple life tasks. Grades start dropping, your relationships start dwindling, and before you know it, you are left wondering where you went wrong.
I'm not saying that an occasional college party isn't fun or exciting but when you abuse the idea then you're just doing nothing good for yourself. Not only is this lifestyle bad for your academic life but for your physical health as well. Drinking heavily is doing you no favors.
The thing is that so many people seem to think that this excessive partying and drinking is why college was some of the best years. They forget about all the vomit, terrible hookups, hangovers, drunk driving, and fights that came along with it. There are so many nights that people don't even remember but yet they think they were the best. The need to drink so much that you aren't mentally present indicates that something is really wrong in your life but people fail to admit that.
Money & Student Loan Debt
Unfortunately, being in college means that you will never have money for anything. You are attending hours worth of classes every week and don't have the time or the energy to work a job for more than super part-time. You're also paying tons of money for classes, books, and anything college related.
Another big expense that people place above food is alcohol. People would rather spend money on drinks at the bar than on food or toiletries. This leaves you to eat nothing but ramen and use fast food napkins for everything in your life. It only sets you up to feel bad and creates a whole lot stress.
Although money isn't everything, it's an important part of living healthy and feeling happier. When you are constantly worrying about how to pay for things, you end up feeling terrible and turn to take out even more of those dreaded student loans.
If you're like most kids going to college, you will have tremendous student loan debt. Some people have a little and others have a lot. Student loans just might be one of the worst parts of college because once you're finally done you're already behind. I myself have over 23,000 dollars worth of debt already. I have no idea how I'm going to pay it off and I try hard not to think about it.
Going back to my first point in being uncertain, it makes these costs even worse. I myself have all of this debt (which isn't that much compared to other people) and personally feel like it wasn't really worth it. I feel like I have learned more since graduating college than I did while in. I know that I still learned things but I feel like all I really paid for was a degree which I'm not even technically using.
College is going to bring some of the most unique and interesting living arrangements of your life. You will find yourself living with people you despise in some of the crappiest places. My first apartment was awful. There were mice and bug infestations everywhere. It was also just old and everything was falling apart. At the time it was okay because I was desperate for a roommate and had no other options.
This point also ties into the fact that college kids just simply don't have the money to live somewhere that is even somewhat nice. You will find yourself living in terrible places and cramming all your belongings into half of a room. Chances are you'll be frustrated at your dirty, loud roommate whose significant other is basically your unwanted extra roommate. You'll have to deal with people using your stuff, breaking your stuff, leaving a mess everywhere, and waking you up in the middle of the night from noisy hookups.
There wasn't one living arrangement that I liked mostly because the apartments themselves were so cruddy. There was always loud music, broken beer bottles, suspicious groups of people, and mice everywhere. There were many sleepless nights from nearby parties. I felt unsafe walking around at night from all the drunk college kids and I just simply hated it all.
Some people that commute wish that they could have their own place so bad but I wished that I could've just lived at home some days. There were so many nights where I wished I could just be in my bed at home where there were no crazy parties and loud booming music. Although I was incredibly lucky to have a roof over my head, I was incredibly stressed and unhappy about the circumstances. The only bright side is that hopefully, you won't have to live that way forever.
College will bring some of the weirdest relationships in your life. Whether it's a friend or a significant other, you will find yourself asking the question "what are we?" one too many times. You're going to struggle to find friends that are really there for you and a significant other that truly cares.
I'm not saying you can't find awesome friends or a perfect boyfriend or girlfriend but the reality is that it's tough. I myself had a random assortment of guys in my life in college that never wanted to commit to anything. Sex is all the majority of them wanted and I knew that if I wanted a real relationship then I had to wait until college was over.
It's tough when you think you found a guy or a girl that you really like and then find yourself wondering if you're crazy for wanting a relationship. The fact is that a lot of people just want to explore in college and they're allowed to. It's just unfortunate for the hopeless romantics of the world. A real college relationship is hard to find. Even those couples that seem happy most likely just fought about something college related whether it's partying too much or talking to another girl/guy.
Friends are also a tricky subject in college. You'll find yourself latching onto people out of convenience. You will start to act like them because you would rather have someone to talk to then be alone. A lot of people are subject to peer pressure. They go out all the time because that's what their friends do or they will join a sorority simply because they just want friends.
It's really tough to find genuine people. You hear in movies and TV that people really find themselves in college but they don't. I met so many people that were so fake all throughout my time in college. They would pretend they liked a certain sport or going out just so they would have friends. It was always hard to watch and some of my best friends to this day are people from high school because finding true friends in college is difficult.
Physical Health & Stress
I think college was the absolute worst years for my physical and mental health. I drank too much, was always stressed, ate terrible food, and barely got enough sleep. I was always tired, I had terrible acne, and I just felt so unmotivated.
Stress is the biggest thing that will affect every single college student. Whether it's from a struggling to prepare for a big test, not having enough money, not being sure about your major, or from thinking too much about a failing relationship. Stress will deteriorate your health. It will make you tired, unhappy, unmotivated, and sick. You will be consumed by it and find yourself partying to forget when in reality that just makes it worse.
Drinking leaves you feeling terrible the next day and if you have work to get done you will struggle. It will leave you trying to drink mountains of coffee or energy drinks in order to find energy. You will stay up all night working on something because you thought going out on a Thursday night was more important than finishing a paper worth two-thirds of your grade. It's all a viscous cycle.
I knew so many people that would think it was cool to not get any sleep and eat terribly. They would talk about it like it was a contest. One person would say "oh I only slept for 4 hours last night and ate nothing but a box of macaroni yesterday," while the next person would say, "well I slept for only 2 hours and didn't eat anything until dinner." They'd all laugh about it and start talking about something else. I was so confused by it all. Of course, I wasn't treating my body the best but I at least tried as hard as I could to be healthy. Others just seemed like they wanted a story to tell to connect with others and have their "struggles" validated. It was weird.
Besides that point, college is just a bad time for your health. I'm not saying you can't be healthy but it'll be extremely hard. This is coming from someone who actually tried to be healthy. You just simply don't have the time, money, or accessibility. On top of that stress is the biggest reason for poor physical health. It causes us to stress eat, sleep less, and worry more. Although there are ways to reduce it, stress will always be a huge part of every college kid's life.
College may not be the best four years of your life but you can still make amazing memories while you're there. As long as you aren't afraid to try new things and be yourself, you can have some great experiences.
I'm not writing any of this to scare anyone from attending college or to tell people who liked college that they're wrong. I just wanted to write about college from my own perspective. I think a lot of people that loved it aren't really thinking of the bigger picture. Since graduating, I have enjoyed my life so much more. I no longer have a mountain of stress on my back, I eat a lot better, feel better and I have been able to maintain relationships with people that I truly care about.
Whether we think we loved college or not, it was all a true test to our stamina. It's an extremely stressful time in a person's life and making it through proves a lot of strength. Although college sucked for me, I am proud of myself for making it through to the end and finishing my degree. It's a feeling unlike any other when after dealing with some of the worst circumstances you come out on top.