Editorial, Opinion

EDITORIAL: Your college expectations might not come true

If Boston University was one of your top colleges, you likely spent hours imagining yourself at the school before you were even accepted. You might’ve looked at aerial photographs of Commonwealth Avenue. You might’ve trolled students’ YouTube channels and watched “Day in the Life” videos. You might’ve browsed BU’s social media. Maybe you even checked the weather in Boston occasionally. You did this for an image of yourself at BU — an understanding of what to expect.

When you arrive on campus in the fall, things may initially seem how you expected. The buildings might look how they did in the photos. But after some time attending this school, you’ll find that being a BU student — really going to BU, falling asleep here every night and waking up here every morning — is much different than how it seemed from behind a screen.

While you were trolling YouTube, you probably stumbled across a few dorm tour videos. Most students spend the summer before college planning how to decorate their dorm. Those in contact with their roommates might even attempt a coordinated color scheme. When you’ve lived in your childhood bedroom your whole life, having a dorm room is an exciting opportunity to reinvent yourself. It might seem like the room you design will make or break who you become in college.

The truth is that the appearance of your dorm room matters way less than it seems now. You’re probably not going to spend nearly as much time in your room as you did in high school. You’ll always be coming and going from various activities, and your room will feel less like a permanent residence and more like a 20-foot length of space crammed full of all your belongings that you pass through from time to time. Your dorm will still be your home, it just won’t be as pretty and put-together as you’d like to think now.  

As for living with a roommate, you don’t have to be best friends with them like movies will have you think. You don’t have to share a closet and eat all your meals together. Living with a roommate doesn’t mean altering your entire schedule to fit theirs, nor does it mean forcing them to live by all of your rules. You will likely disagree with your roommate sometimes — some of their habits will get on your nerves — but you don’t have to have a picture-perfect relationship to live alongside them and respect them. You’ll learn that you can live amicably with someone who lives differently from you.

Going into college, you’re probably excited to get out of your house and away from your parents — to become more independent. But while you might be doing your own laundry and planning your own meals at BU, you’ll probably feel more dependent on your parents than you did before you left. No matter how strained your family relationship was during high school, nobody is immune to homesickness. As soon as you’re apart from your parents for a few weeks, the memories of how much you used to fight with them will fade. You’ll forget all the chores they made you do and the annoying texts they’d send when you were out past curfew.

Not only will you be separated from your parents, you’ll be miles apart from your high school friends. Those who were part of a solid clique in high school might expect a new group of friends to materialize in front of them immediately, but this isn’t usually how things work. Meeting people you connect with is a chance occurrence, and if this isn’t happening right away, it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. You might not meet your best friends for months, or even a couple of semesters. Remember that you should make friends because you genuinely enjoy spending time with other people, not because you’re afraid of eating lunch by yourself.

All in all, don’t go into college with too many expectations for what your life will look like. Things are unpredictable, and if you set your hopes on a certain image, you could end up unnecessarily disappointed. You’ve spent a long time thinking about what college will be like, and if the reality is different from what you pictured, roll with it.

One Comment

  1. Sandra Einsteinburg

    Great Piece! I can definitely relate to the dorm room aspect. I never really got around to decorating my dorm room–just had one picture and a bunch of papers on the bulletin board. All I really had was a nice looking cover. The roommate aspect of college is definitely an interesting experience too. I also did not always get along with mine. One time she asked me to move out so that she could live with her friend. You have to remember it is your space to and stand by your half of the room. What you said about friends is also very interesting. I am lucky to have found at least two great friends last semester.

    But I have a few questions you did not quite cover. What is your opinion and stance on renting a micro-fridge? Also, how did you feel about the weather? And lastly, what does the freshman “expectations vs reality” tell us about American culture? How does a freshman year look like in other countries? Are the expectations different?