Diary Of A College Student

by Tammy

If there’s one thing I learned from college, it’s that high school didn’t teach me anything about it. Everyone still cares about who’s wearing what, who’s hooking up with whom, and who’s got the most money or what car you’re driving, but high school is supposed to prepare you for college, right? Or was I the only one who got that memo?

Sure, academically, my high school was great! But no one prepares you for the social aspects, the loans, or the lack of sanity you’ll have from just one semester. Anyone who tries to tell me that college is purely academic is wrong. If that was the case, college would be easy for me. Unfortunately, there are a bunch of other aspects to take into account.

Honestly, college isn’t just a bunch of drinking, drugs, and parties. That’s not the “social” part I’m talking about. I’m taking about needing to get along with a few immature people who aren’t ready to be on their own yet. Part of me wishes there was some way to screen for those types of people, but there’s not. All colleges see us as is a check in the mail and treat us all the same. No one cares that I’m an all A student, working hard to become an English teacher. They care if my loans come through on time, and that’s about it. Living in the dorms, they don’t care if the immature people around me are having a negative impact on my well-structured life.

In high school, the situations were always assessed and they always took into account the more reliable source. In college, they don’t care. Whoever the complaint was about, that’s who got in trouble, even if the source was unreliable. High school doesn’t prepare you for that kind of stuff.

In high school, or at least the one I went to, they trained the students to all be the same. Dress the same, act the same, and do the same things. They told you what classes to take, when to get there, when to eat, and when to leave. All you had to do was follow the bells.

Was I in for a surprise when I got to college! I had to decide everything. My mom wasn’t there to tell me to go to bed before four in the morning. My dad wasn’t there to tell me to wake up for classes. My mom didn’t pack me a lunch every day. My dad didn’t ask me if I had all my homework done.

Everything was completely up to me. No reminders, no nothing. I had to decide when my classes were and make sure that there was enough time in between all of them to walk to the next one. I had to decide which days they were going to be on, and which classes to take in the first place! In high school, they had everything laid out for me! In college, I could sleep until noon every day and have all afternoon and night classes if I wanted to. The toughest part was remembering that I was responsible for feeding and taking care of myself.

The second biggest thing that threw me for a loop was how broke I was. I worked at McDonald’s for two years before-hand and never thought to save that money for a rainy day. High schools in general don’t touch on the money part of college, and if they do, it’s only to tell us how much debt we’re going to carry. Not only am I broke, I’m negative broke. I’m up to my knees in student loans and it’s only my second year!

On top of that, I live on a very small campus that isn’t within walking distance to the town, so I couldn’t really get a job for spending money either. Luckily, I have parents who give me a helping hand when I need it, but I can’t imagine what people who are on their own have to go through.

I know a few people I go to school with that pay their tuition and fees in monthly payments. These friends have 18 credit hours, two jobs, and no free time. Luckily for them though, they’ll be graduating debt free. Part of me wonders how stressed out they get on a day-to-day basis. I wonder if that situation is more or less stressful than mine. One can never know that sort of thing though.

Half of the time, I’m more focused on the fact that I have to pay for classes that have nothing to do with what I want to do with my life! I can guarantee that I will not need to know the quadratic formula to teach my students about Shakespeare or plot structure. I definitely won’t need to know the elements on the periodic table to teach my students about Poe or character development. Let’s just say, going to school to be an English teacher requires a lot of classes in my degree that I just don’t need to be a successful English teacher.

It’s really quite irritating that I’m up to my knees in debt because I have to take classes like biology, algebra, art, and physical education. I wish that I could get my degree in an English teacher trade school sometimes. I would just have to take the classes I need.

How are science, math, and an art class going to help me teach English? Maybe there’s something more to it that I don’t understand, but to me, as the loan payer, it’s just a waste of debt and time. Just imagine how much earlier I’d graduate if I only took classes related to my field!

To sum things up, I don’t really think that college would have been so bad if I would have had an accurate depiction of it in my head before going. It’s not about the parties or the football games, really. It wasn’t like that at all for me. That was just one big stereotype that society had drilled into my head.

No, college is responsibility, money, and a stepping stone to my future. It makes me wonder if the first year would have been easier if it was exactly how the stereotypes were in my head, because I was more prepared for that.

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Just below is a quote from "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff" by Richard Carlson.  The chapter title is "Open Your Heart To Compassion." 

"Every day we are given hundreds of opportunities to practice compassion in action.  We can learn to be less reactive and live with more patience.

We can smile when others are serious.  We can drive our cars more carefully, pick up litter on the streets, recycle, and reduce our consumption.

We can resolve conflicts rather than create them, and we can become less judgemental and more inclusive.  When someone is aggressive, we can teach them to be more peaceful.  Instead of waiting for an example, we can be the example.

The more compassion that enters your heart, the happier and more peaceful you will become.  By knowing that you are doing your part to create a better world-whatever form that takes-you will fill any void that exists in your life, and you will begin to find the peace you are looking for."

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