False expectations plague college experience

Madison Pena
Social Media Editor

It’s easy to fall into the trap of having high expectations for the long-awaited four years of college. I remember being a freshman in high school and hearing my upperclassmen friends excitedly talk about which schools they were applying to as they counted down to graduation.

In a blink of an eye, it was my turn, and it was my friends and I who were talking about college apps and what the next four years could have in store — only having a couple of classes to worry about instead of nine, no standardized testing. College already sounded like a dream.

Over their winter break, the recent high school graduates would come back to visit the teams and coaches and talk about how amazing college was — it wasn’t surprising, especially with the amount of posting they were doing on Instagram. 

Yet, during my first semester of college, I found myself going through something no one ever thought to mention, but what I later realized was the “freshman blues.”

As the fall semester of my sophomore year draws to a close, I can say with certainty that college really is the best. However, as a freshman, there’s an incredible amount of growing pains that no one mentions. Part of this can be attributed to the vicious social media competition for who are living their best lives and who made more friends during their first week of college.

Bonds formed at school often last a lifetime (Flickr).

The first semester of college was tough. I would look online and see how people from my high school were already hanging out with their 20 new friends. Even though I realized in the back of my mind that it was probably being glamorized, it only reinforced my idea of loneliness.

I had all of these expectations of immediately having a core group of friends, easily being able to balance all of my commitments and curating the ideal social media feed. Fast-forward to my first semester — I had plenty of acquaintances, but not many whom I considered to be close friends, I had hardly posted to social media and thought I was failing at the whole college life.

Over winter break, after I was talking to a close friend from high school and we were both hyping up our first semesters, we looked at each other and knew that we were both full of it. We discussed how, while we had been able to form those instant, surface-level friendships, our college experience was not meeting our unrealistic expectations.

FOMO, or fear of missing out, plagues college freshmen without them realizing it as they scroll through social media and compare themselves to what others are doing, while glamorizing everyone else’s experiences without even knowing the whole story. Seeing people’s Snapchat stories at parties and Instagram pictures with more than 30 “friends” can easily make you feel like you aren’t living it up.

People need to stop perpetuating false expectations of college. Yes, you might meet your best friends in your first semester, but you also might not. I met some of my best friends in my second semester, and I’m still meeting some now.

We spend our high school years silently counting down and setting expectations for college based on our perceptions of what other people are posting online, which is a waste of time because expectations can’t be met if they are all based on edited and filtered content.

Before you get down on yourself for not fulfilling what you think to be the “college experience,” remember that everyone’s timing is different, and you can’t base your life on what other people are posting.

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