3 Ways College Surprised Me
You’ve heard it from everyone, everywhere: College is a huge adjustment. I had expectations before my first year, and most of them were pretty accurate. Some of them were wrong, though! Here are three ways I was surprised by Arcadia University.
Bubble soccer on Haber Green, one of many things to do at Arcadia!
1. An individual experience is just fine.
A lot of American movies and TV shows push the stereotypical college experience. Partying, drinking, occasionally drugs, you know the deal. And that’s fine—you’ll get no judgment from me if that’s what you want to do. But that wasn’t what I wanted to do. Crowds aren’t really my thing, especially in an unfamiliar setting. Coming to college, then, worried me. What if my roommate was annoyed I didn’t party? What if all my friends were mad I didn’t want to go out with them? Would I have a fulfilling college experience without doing what every other freshman seems to be doing?
The good thing is: that doesn’t matter. At all. The best part of college is that you can do whatever you want. For some people, that means partying. But for me, “whatever I want” is as many blankets as I can fit on my bed, a mug of hot chocolate, and some Netflix. And that’s fine. Nobody cares. The only person who cares is me, because I worry about what others think. I lucked out with a great roommate, and we’re both content to do different things. I found friends that would rather play Star Wars Monopoly than go out. My college experience is still fun, just different than the American media would have you believe. Besides, there are plenty of things to do on campus!
2. Learning is actually fun.
I might be biased, because the Psych department is freaking awesome, but learning at Arcadia is way more fun than any class I took in high school. The professors seem to enjoy their jobs, and they give us a much higher level of trust. It’s easier to enjoy a class when you’re being treated like an adult with your own ideas and opinions.
And for me, my major is endlessly fascinating. I love every Psychology course I’ve taken. Unlike high school, I get to control the classes I take. I get to choose what I learn about. I get to take classes about things I’m interested in, even if it’s not related to my major. In high school, the extent of freedom I had when choosing classes was “What elective do you want?” and “Would you rather take biology or physical science?” Now, I get to craft a schedule that’s both interesting and purposeful.
3. Freedom abounds.
Everyone expects this one. Freedom from parents, from the restrictions of high school (dress code, anyone?), and from the eight-hour school day. Those things are all true, and they’re all incredible (I can finally let the world know that I have shoulders, imagine that).
College is full of surprises, and I can’t wait to experience them all.
– Denise Glick
But there was another type of freedom that surprised me: The freedom professors give me. Some of them take roll, and some don’t—it’s my decision whether I go to class or not. Assignments, too. A lot of the essays I received in my EN101 class were shockingly open-ended. Our first assignment was literally “write a personal essay.” It was allowed to be about anything. It was awesome.
Even campus authority is more relaxed than high school. During Fall Orientation, all five days of it, there were only two mandated sessions. Some things were “strongly encouraged,” but no one chased me down to drag me to a financial aid session. As long as no one is an idiot, campus is chill and relaxed.
There are other things that surprised me, of course. There are things that surprise me daily, like the phenomenons we learn about in Sociology or the misleading news articles we read in Research Methods. College is full of surprises, and I can’t wait to experience them all.