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Dec 31 2017
by Cassidy Jackson

15 Thoughts Every College Student Has When Visiting High School

By Cassidy Jackson - Dec 31 2017

On December 21, I went back to high school. Good ole' high school. Stepping inside of her walls, I was unknowingly taking part in a sacred ceremony. Going in, a mixture of dread, excitement and nervousness rushed through my veins. 

Dread because high school wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and I knew all the bad would hit me like a stack of bricks. 

Excitement because despite the bad, I can wholeheartedly say, “I loved high school.” 

Nervousness because I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if all the magic that was high school would be gone. I didn’t know if I would feel welcomed or loved. But after visiting for the first time, I realized the magic was still very much there, and I felt a lot of emotions. I had a lot of thoughts. It was just a lot. So here’s a list of things that all us college students think when visiting our high school.

1. It’s only been seven months?

I’ve only been out of high school for a mere seven months, but I feel like high school me is centuries in the past. You know how people tell you “college changes you?” Well, it’s true, but false at the same time. College, in my case, put a fire under my butt to discover who I was, and who I wanted to be. Before college, I was lost. I wasn’t super confident in myself. My self-worth and my academics were sort of intertwined. My image of myself was basically screwed up. Not to say that now (seven months later) I’m a perfectly confident and sane human, I still have my moods. But I can confidently say I know who I am and who I’m aiming to become.

2. Wow, I’m a visitor now?

Immediately when I walked into my high school, I was smacked in the face with the cold, hard reality that my high school is no longer my school. The guard at the entrance saw my face and immediately said, “You need a visitor’s pass before you can go in. Identification, please.” I reluctantly handed her my state I.D. and was returned my I.D. and a visitors name tag. Harsh, right?

3. Sayonara, social ladder!

About 10 minutes into roaming my high school halls, I realized it was 1:00, which means lunch time! I sat down in the cafeteria, and BAM! It took me less than two seconds to pinpoint the popular crowd of the high school class of 2018. The girls were decked out in Lululemon fits (future sorority girls). The guys decked out in Sperrys and backward caps (future frat boys). Weirdly, when I was a senior, the cool crowd all sat in this particular area of the cafeteria, and low and behold, the current seniors were sitting at those said tables. Is that area handed down from popular crowd to popular crowd? So confused. Honestly, I'm incredibly happy that the social ladder that invades and pretty much corrupts high school is gone. Bye-bye, social ladder!

4. Where the teacher-student connection at?

Last quarter, I was in four classes. By the end of that quarter, only two out of my four professors knew my name. As I roamed the high school halls going from teacher to teacher, I felt sad, because I missed that. I missed the connection. The connection I had with a handful of my high school teachers. I mean, seriously! Is it too much to ask for all my professors to know my name?

5. Oh gosh! A flood of good and bad memories just hit me!

You know high school was sunshine and hurricanes all the freakin’ time.

6. I guess I glowed up.

Recently, I scrolled through my iPhone photo library and rediscovered high school me. Honestly, I hate when people say “I glowed up!” Something about it just rubs me the wrong way, but I can’t find any other phrase to describe my “transformation.” For the first half of high school, I wore leggings, a ginormous sweatshirt and a disgusting athletic headband every single day. I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m seriously not. Walking down the street, someone could have easily mistaken me for a hobo. Now, I actually try to present myself a little better. I wear jeans about five days out of the week. I’ve cut my headband addiction down to once a week (I mean, I can't let go completely). So much progress. 

7. College really does separate your fake friends from your real friends.

Drake really said it best in “Started from the Bottom.” On that track, he beautifully said “F**k a fake friend, where your real friends at?” And man. College really does help you figure out who your fake friends are versus the real ones. The real ones, aka, the ones who won’t just be there when you share the same lunch period. Leaving high school, I had a good idea of who would be in my life after college and who wouldn’t, and so far, I’m completely on point. But when visiting high school, you can’t help but reminisce. Reminisce on freshman year, on sophomore year, on junior and senior. The friendships that existed then versus the ones still around.

8. Bonds don’t AND aren’t always meant to last forever.

I’m an avid believer that certain relationships enter and leave your life for a reason. For a long time, I was an avid believer but never an avid doer. Oftentimes, I was fighting to either bring people into my life or fighting to keep someone in. But going into college, you really do realize to just trust. Trust that the people you want around will stay around. Trust that a reason exists for why some people you want to stay around don’t. And finally, trust that sometimes the people you want are no longer good for you.

9. Peace out high school food. I don't miss you.

High school food low-key but high-key sucked, especially for my non-meat eating self. Food wise, college is paradise in comparison to high school. I mean, just so many options at the swipe of a school I.D.

10. Wow, high school me was an idiot. 

Looking back on high school, I was an idiot. My freshman and sophomore years, for seriously about a month, I had a map. A legit map of the school where I etched out my daily route from class to class. I slipped it into the front of my binder and idiotically walked through the halls carrying the binder and making sure I stayed on route. Every. Single. Day. Now in college, I look back on that and I honestly don’t know what was wrong with me.

11. I feel the love!

I hugged my old teachers and had conversations that meant something to me. It was all love. Personally, one of my fears when visiting my high school was that all the magic would be gone. Class of 2017 is no longer wandering those halls, so I felt like all the magic and all the impact I had would be gone. I mean, we all want to feel like we left a mark. I left my high school feeling like I touched the lives of younger classes and teachers. It was a good feeling.

12. Shoot! I should have just done it!

I’m totally someone that let the fear of what people would think of me control what I did in high school. You want to know something? I’ll let you in on a little secret/fantasy that little ole' me had trapped in her heart all of high school. I always wanted to join the dance team. I know you probably never guessed it, but it was always a little fantasy of mine. At my high school, there was a hip-hop dance team, and they were so cool. They had this little signature chant, it was great. Anyway, I always wanted to try out, but my fear of judgement always loomed over my head. Looking back on it now, I hate that I let it stop me.

13. If only all my college classes were in one building.

It’s officially winter, and attending college in Illinois really has me butt hurt. To make matters worse, being the smart person I am, I decided to live in a dorm that’s north of campus, when all my classes are south. If I could insert the emoji of the girl slapping her forehead right here, I really would. Every day, I walk an average of five miles to and fro on campus (data courtesy of my iPhone Health app). In the fall, that’s all fun and dandy, but in below zero-degree weather, not so much. I’ve never been so jealous of high schoolers. They’re all tucked away in their one building. They make me sick!

14. I must avoid those teachers.

In high school, we all had those teachers we loved, but... we also all had those teachers that... yeah, we don’t want to see ever again. For me, that was my chemistry teacher (she was a walking tyrant), my tennis coach (he just overall scared me) and my Japanese teacher (after flunking the AP test with flying colors, I avoid her at all costs). So, when you walk those halls, beware, my friend. Beware.

15. I miss it, but at the same time, I don’t.

Just 15 minutes after leaving my high school, I looked down and peeped my visitor tag sticking out of my jacket. Part of me wanted to cry, because from now on, I’ll always be a visitor at my own high school. High school will from now on just be a memory that will become more and more blurry as time goes on. At the same time, though, I wanted to smile, because I’m a college student. There are magical aspects of college that high school can never compete with – the resources, the opportunities, the mass array of extracurriculars, the food and the freedom. One chapter closes, but another chapter opens.

Going into my high school visit, I was scared to death, but I have a feeling that that moment will be the highlight of my winter break and something I whimsically look back on for years to come. Although high school wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, the sunshine and rainbows are what I will remember most.

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Cassidy Jackson - Northwestern University

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