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What They Get Wrong – Andrea Brenno

As a college senior having made it through nearly eight full semesters, with only a month separating me from graduation, it always makes me laugh when I see or hear depictions of “typical college life.” College is rendered as some mystical place where there are ridiculously lavish parties, designated “nerds” to do all the homework, borderline circuses in the dorms, professors who exchange bribes for good grades, and so on. And while some of these things may be true to a certain extent (especially if you’ve ever lived in Kroeze), one thing these depictions fail to show are some of the not-so-glamorous parts of college which I’m sure most of us at UJ are all too familiar with:

  • Trying to balance your thirty-pound book bag, laptop case, and a steaming mug of coffee as you trek your way to the library across sheets of solid ice, knowing full-well that you will spend the next 8-10 hours of your life camped out there.
  • Sniffing your collection of dirty sweat pants because, quite frankly, you simply don’t have time for silly things like laundry, and you really just need something to wear to your 8:00 am class.
  • Feeling like your hand may slowly shrivel and fall off after a particularly intense lecture session. Seriously, who knew you could write that many pages of notes in a mere 50 minutes?!
  • Spending countless frustrating hours trying to plan, organize, and cram all of your necessary classes into a nice, neat four-year plan for graduation. Extra frustrating are the classes offered certain semesters of certain years. Hair. Pulling. Frustration.
  • The heart-wrenching feeling of receiving pictures from home of your family pets. You never knew you could miss cuddling a ball of fur so much! Okay, maybe this one is just me…
  • Sacrificing a fun night or two with your friends because you know that, unfortunately, that exam isn’t going to study for itself.
  • The mayhem and chaos of finals week. Need I say more? There isn’t enough caffeine to go around…

  • But, despite all of these things that may seem borderline horrendous, popular depictions of college also fail to highlight some of the most wonderful experiences – experiences which I think most of us are lucky enough to have in our four years at UJ:

  • Meeting some of the most diverse, interesting people from all different places in the world and walks of life. How many times in your life will you be surrounded with so much diversity and have the opportunity to embrace it and learn more about it?
  • Along those lines, meeting professors that can, and will, push you beyond the boundaries of what you ever thought possible of yourself. The best ones will challenge your thought process, your work ethic, and your entire outlook on life. Bonus: these professors become your greatest advisors and mentors. Though they relentlessly push you, they also help you every step of the way because they genuinely care about you.
  • Forging some of the greatest, and sometimes the most unexpected, friendships you’ll ever have over Domino’s pizza and study sessions that last into the wee hours of the morning (mostly studying the whole time). While the classes and exams will eventually end, the special bonds you create together won’t.
  • Having the opportunity to be spontaneous whenever. Study break to go run through the sprinklers with your friends at 2:00 am? Sure. Completely unnecessary Walmart trip in the middle of the day? Absolutely. How about an after-dinner coffee? Yes, please! In college, to loosely borrow a quote from Shakespeare, “the world is your oyster.”
  • The overwhelming satisfaction you feel when you ace a test you spent hours studying for, or rock a presentation you incessantly prepared for, or land an incredible internship. The hard work really does pay off in the end!
  • Being trained to do something that you are completely passionate about. For some reason, I almost never see or hear this part about college in popular depictions. Student teaching this semester has been one of the biggest, and best, challenges for me as an English Education major. The students push me every day to be my best and to use everything I’ve learned to teach and guide them. Despite this challenge, I never feel more passionate than I do when I’m teaching them, because it’s what I love. That love and passion grew most during my time at college.
  • Getting the opportunity to be a part of something far greater than yourself. I will offer no explanation for this, because I know those of you at UJ know exactly what I mean.

I guess what I’m really trying to say is this: popular depictions of college often just don’t get it right. College is not always one giant, glamorous party. There are parts that are incredibly difficult, and some parts that may seem downright impossible. Maybe some of you are experiencing those parts right now, or have experienced them before and know exactly what I’m talking about. But, there are parts and experiences in college that no depiction could ever get right – experiences so wonderful that they are etched in your memory forever. Experiences that change who you truly are.

In my own college career, which ends so soon, I have had the opportunity to experience both sides – the not so glamorous, and the completely wonderful. Now, when I see or hear depictions of college, I laugh, because I know that college has so much more to offer.

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Posted:April 15, 2016

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