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Monday May 20th

OPINION: My college experience is nothing like I imagined it to be

<p><em>The freshman year experience will mean something different for everyone. (Photo by Elizabeth Gladstone / Multimedia Coordinator)</em></p>

The freshman year experience will mean something different for everyone. (Photo by Elizabeth Gladstone / Multimedia Coordinator)

By Kate Zydor
Opinions Editor 

As my freshman year is coming to a close, I have found myself reflecting on my college experience as a whole, but more specifically, the lessons I have learned since stepping foot onto campus. I won’t lie and say that this past year has been nothing but blissful. Like everyone else, I’ve had many ups and downs both academically and socially. 

With that being said, I love our school and its campus, professors, student life and sense of community. However, coming to the College as a freshman, I carried with me a set of expectations from years of watching TV and listening to stories from family members, friends and random TikTok influencers. Over these past eight months, I can confidently say that the majority of these expectations were proven wrong. 

One of the biggest misconceptions that incoming freshmen have is that partying and joining Greek Life is the only way to achieve a fulfilling social life. This notion is partly reinforced by popular TV shows and movies that convey to young people that college is the time to let loose and find the group of people that will become their forever friends. 

While I acknowledge that by being a part of Greek Life, students are able to put themselves out there and meet new people, the same results can be achieved by joining student organizations that cater to their specific interests. After careful consideration, this is the path that I chose for myself and I could not be happier with my decision. 

I have many friends in fraternities and sororities who have nothing but positive things to say about Greek Life. For me, I was able to find fulfillment through my roles in the Student Government and The Signal, both of which have provided me with a healthy social life and outlets through which to funnel my passions. 

I also started college with the idea that, like high school, it would consist of cliques and traditional social hierarchy. Looking back, I feel silly that I ever thought this way, as those I now count as friends are from a wide array of social circles, student organizations, majors and class years. 

College affords you the opportunity to interact with so many amazing people of different backgrounds and perspectives. Because I made an effort to befriend those in my classes and organizations, I am certain that I have become a more well-rounded, understanding individual. 

Going back to high school for a moment, I truly believe that it conditions us to adopt a herd mentality. Now, I can’t speak for everyone else, but I left behind those four years with the idea that I had to look and act a certain way to fit in. I wish I could travel back in time and tell myself that nobody cares, and who I was at 16 or 17 years old will not define the rest of my life.

College is the place to discover who you are outside of the confines of the limited perspective that is all you have known. It’s a time to discover who you really are — your personal style, ideal friendships and most importantly, long-term goals. During this time of our lives, we are all finally growing into the people we are meant to become. We cannot waste valuable energy harping on the superficial or the opinions of others.

Lastly, I had the misconception that in college, people care about the academic success of their peers. While I find most people I have met are highly motivated by academic success, it is for their own edification and not to compete with the success of others. What you got on your SAT or ACT in high school doesn’t mean anything in college. It’s all about achieving the goals in front of you.

With that all being said, the greatest lesson I have learned from my freshman year is that who I was before coming to the College doesn’t matter. What matters is who I am now and the things I am doing to better myself and the people around me. My first-year experience is nothing like I imagined it would be, but in the best possible ways.

The freshman year experience will mean something different for everyone. I would not trade any of this year’s highs or lows for the world because I know that they led me to this moment, writing my final article as The Signal’s opinions editor. 

Transitioning into my sophomore year, I am excited for what the future holds, but I’ve learned to let go of many of my expectations and take life as it comes. At the end of the day, what once felt like an impossible switch from high school to college doesn’t feel so scary anymore, and that is a beautiful thing.


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