Student Life

Four Unfortunate Truths About College

College isn't all that movies and TV shows make it out to be: there are some realities students must face.

Student Contributor, Charles Schnell

January 21, 2022

Four Unfortunate Truths About College
College can be amazing, but there are also aspects that are just, frankly, hard.
By means of marketing teams and Hollywood media, colleges in America have collectively garnered for themselves a reputation for being campuses where dreams are fully realized, lifelong friendships are founded, soulmates meet after years of despairful longing, classes are aced, parties are had without unratifiable consequences, and internships are landed. College has become known as a place of joy, fulfillment, and pleasure. While each of those things may be true to an extent on a case-by-case basis, there are numerous aspects of college that leave a sour taste in one’s mouth.

1. Feeling Homesick

Homesickness has been my greatest stumbling block in college thus far. I suspect this is more severe for those of us attending college hundreds—or, as some can attest, even thousands—of miles away from home. A newborn college freshman is plucked out of his home environment, deprived of childhood friends, and separated from loving parents and placed in an environment full of new faces and places.
Various complications can arise from finding oneself in a new location hundreds of miles away from home. A relationship may need to be navigated and maintained over a vast distance. The loss of a support network can be critical. Fears of losing one’s cherished identity, deeply rooted in one’s hometown, may corrode the mind—or at the very least interrupt one’s schoolwork. These are all effects of going to a school far away that contribute to homesickness. I recommend utilizing the advanced communication avenues of our century in order to maintain friendships and relationships over a great distance. Additionally, I would not fret over being so far away from your home that you fear you may lose your affection for your hometown. Being able to visit during holidays and breaks is to be cherished, and it’s harder to lose the affection than it may seem at the outset of college.

2. Workload

College can keep you busy. The time spent in classes, completing the corresponding homework assignments after the fact, and studying for assessments can eat up all of your time—so much so that time for a job and extracurricular activities may be scarce. This can contribute to acute and chronic stress levels, which can in turn contribute to decreased academic performance. Personally, I think the stress often is mostly or entirely inside of our heads. Before completing homework assignments, the tasks ahead of you on any given night can seem overwhelming. However, in the retrospect, one sees that the professor actually assigned a reasonable amount of work most of the time; having completed the work allows one to more easily take a “bird’s eye view” of the homework they have just completed and realize it was not worth the amount of stress put into it—although sometimes it is!

3. Mental Health

If my understanding is correct, mental health issues are more common than ever in the history of mankind in the college age group. One may wonder why this is. College students, particularly in America, are on average more economically well off and freer than much of the world population. I believe several factors contribute to this unfortunate fact. One of the most notable is social media and the Internet. These have contributed to the rising and growing prevalence of depression, anxiety, and narcissism among people all over the world. It is a sad truth that many college students—especially in the era of what I tend to call “Zoom University”—spend many hours in a given week on their devices. If mental health counseling helps someone live with whatever issues they may be fighting, I highly recommend college students continue to take advantage of counseling. However, for other college students who may prefer dealing with issues of this sort with the aid of other avenues, there are many helpful books that can help college students gain a more accurate and knowledgeable perspective on how aspects of their environment, ever so subtle, contribute to their mental health issues. One I personally recommend is The Narcissism Epidemic by Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell. Its insights and revelations about how narcissism is destructive and how influences for narcissism surround us provide perspective and context for one’s inner thoughts as well as one’s world.

4. Peer Pressure

It’s no secret that most college students fight an uphill battle against pressure from peers to do things against one’s conscience. Following one’s conscience is vital to a peaceful college career and a joyful attitude throughout college. Going against one’s conscience, no matter how potent the tempters, is indescribably dangerous to one’s academic prowess, soul, and emotional state. Many college students—finding themselves seemingly but not actually trapped in bouts of loneliness and homesickness—may give in to peer pressure during their time in college and become lost in a whirlwind of hedonistic, disguised self-destruction. It’s terribly sad. I would say to every college student who may be fighting against peer pressure: a) Never give in to the tempters, the peers who may be nudging you in a corrupt direction. If you give in, you give them ownership over your deeds, your mind, and your soul. You don’t need them, they who would encourage you to do wicked things and slander you as a “bad friend” for refusing to bend to their will. b) Your conscience is telling you this is wrong and dangerous. There are many other students on the Earth who are in situations similar to yours, whose consciences are afflicted as much as yours. Hold out knowing others have done the same and will continue to do so. (Perhaps some are on your very campus. Search for them! They probably have interests similar to yours.) These are the four truths I would say are the most unfortunate about college. Sure, they are not fun to talk about, but hopefully these statements and pieces of advice resonated with a reader or two.

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