For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Dec 28 2015
by Mia Renee Cole

First Semester of College: Expectations vs. Reality

By Mia Renee Cole - Dec 28 2015

We had so many expectations when moving into college this last August, but since completing our first semester we have discovered that there is quite a difference between what we thought and what is actually reality.

1. Expectation: To have a normal sleeping schedule, like in high school.

This makes sense: wake up at the relatively same time every morning and go to bed at a decent time every night.

Reality: Literally no sleeping schedule whatsoever.

Something between the different class schedules and late-night studying has lead to a weird sleeping pattern for us. We basically sleep whenever we can, wherever we can.

2. Expectation: Not liking our RA.

If there’s anything that movies and TV has taught us about college living, it’s that RAs are a nuisance, so why would we like them?

Reality: We’re BFFs with our RA.

RAs are literally a gift from heaven. They give us free food, cute little gifts and decorate our halls. Not to mention, they’re always there to talk when we need someone to talk to. Some of us are probably closer to our RA than our roommate.

3. Expectation: Getting our laundry done every week.

We did it in high school, so why not now?

Reality: Washing clothes as a last resort.

Trying to fit laundry into our busy schedules has proven quite the complicated task this first semester. It doesn’t help that most schools charge for laundry, too, so that makes it even harder to get it done on some weeks. Hell, I even resorted to hand washing leggings towards the end of the semester.

4. Expectation: Finding textbooks for cheap.

We’re bargain hunters, so we figured we’d do everything we could to purchase textbooks used through Amazon or other websites.

Reality: Spending over $500 on textbooks our first semester.

The stress of classes and lack of knowledge in finding textbooks for cheap, lead us to purchasing every single one of ours from our student store. Even now, it’s nearly impossible to get every textbook for cheap since many professors choose to post their syllabi two days before class.

5. Expectation: Studying 24/7.

So maybe high school didn’t prepare us for studying at all, but we’ll make sure to improve our studying skills while at college.

Reality: Is YikYak studying?

We do feel the pressure to study all the time, so we definitely try to. We’re just very easily distracted and usually find that we get about 1/4 of our planned studying done.

6. Expectation: Easily passing all of our classes.

We might get a C or two, but we’ll easily pass all of our classes!

Reality: Plz give me a C-, professor.

Towards the end of the semester, we truly realized that college classes WERE all that they were cracked up to be. C’s get degrees, right?

7. Expectation: We’ll eat at all the cool restaurants on and off campus.

With a vast array of new and delicious food around us, we figured we’d be able to go out every Friday to eat with friends. Our parents will loan us the money, right?

Reality: Wendy’s 4 for $4 is considered gold to us.

About the only thing we can even afford is fast food and the Wendy’s open until 2 AM has become quite convenient for us. “Treat yo’ self” has turned into a combination meal from Wendy’s or McDonalds.

8. Expectation: Studying in our rooms.

Because who wants to leave their dorm to study??

Reality: Going to the library whenever we’re trying to get stuff done.

Something about our dorms has become very distracting for us when we’re studying. We get almost nothing done if we don’t pack up our bags and hike over to the library.

9. Expectation: Having easy access to alcohol.

In the movies, all college students—both nerds and Greeks—are able to easily obtain beer. And, with all the alcohol education training we had to receive before classes, we figured we’d be surrounded by it.

Reality: We’re lucky to get Starbucks.

By the middle of the semester, it’s impossible to get into any Greek party unless you’ve gone Greek…and that’s where all the alcohol is. For the most part, that “good juice” is a Starbucks latte.

10. Expectation: We’ll make lots of life-long friends in college.

We’ve been told this for years—we’ll make some of our most important connections while in college.

Reality: We’ve made lots of life-long friends in college.

We may only be done with the first semester, but we can firmly say that we’ve met some of our best friends these last couple of months.

Lead Image Credit: Universal Pictures

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Mia Renee Cole - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Mia Renee is currently the Senior Editor with Fresh U and a student at UNC Chapel Hill, where she is studying Spanish and French. In her free time she enjoys knitting, photography and drinking hot tea while writing on her personal blog. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @miareneecole or her blog at!

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