College transition has ups and downs

By Davis Hill, Staff Writer


What happened? You used to be a normal, well-adjusted teenager, happily pursuing photography, gymnastics and self-denigration. Now you’re a pale, exhausted college student who subsists on instant rice and M&M’s you find between the couch cushions.

It’s strange looking back; your perspective changes. Some of the things that seemed stupid or worthless in high school would be a godsend in college.

Think about it. Your tuition was free, you didn’t have to pay for textbooks and the food often wasn’t that bad, actually. Most of your teachers knew your name, even if they only used it to yell at you.

When you skipped class, you would get busted—you would be sent to the principal’s office, a note would get sent home, and you’d get dirty looks next time you showed up. Now when you skip class, all that you get is the sinking realization that you’re wasting upwards of $100 per hour, paid in advance.

You planned to move to Los Angeles, study art design and become a famous rock musician. Instead, you’re attending college less than two hours from home.

Of course, lots of things are better now that you’re in college. I spent most of my freshman and sophomore years in high school playing a computer game called Starcraft. In this game, the players take control of alien races and then pit them against one another in terrifying battles to the death. Starcraft was filled with unnecessary aggression and subtle imperialist rhetoric. It was probably a huge waste of time, although to be fair, the game really helped my grade in United States history.

In college, you know your teachers as real people. You have drinks with them, go to their houses, discuss politics with them and converse with them while using language you could never have gotten away with at home. They have families, friends and interests outside of their jobs, and only rarely do they sleep in their offices.

You’ve moved out. Your parents aren’t here to nag you. You can live in a house with your best friends, a broken-down cabin or even a ball pit, and they can’t do anything about it.

Everyone had one high school teacher that was tough on them. Maybe it was your basketball coach, your marching band director or your studio art teacher or math teacher. But you’ve prevailed, and you can look forward to the day when, doctoral certificate in hand, you encounter them begging for alms in the alley behind the middle school, the writhing jerks.

The transition to college can also be disillusioning when, for example, you realize that anything can be made to sound boring by an underprepared graduate teacher assistant whose focus is “research.”

Some of the changes from high school to college are just weird. I used to hope that I was the smartest person in class, so that I could look really cool. Now I hope that I’m the dumbest, so that I’ll learn something.

I used to do all my homework as quickly as possible in order to have time left over for video games. Now I play video games as quickly as possible in order to leave time for homework.

Maybe you were afraid of being called on, fearing embarrassment in front of the whole class. In college, however, professors teaching lower-division classes often have to see hundreds of new students every quarter, many of whom would rather be doing anything other than attending class, and, in order to satisfy their misguided thirst for justice, will take any opportunity to disrupt class or embarrass the professor. Your professors have it much worse than you ever did.

I wish someone had told me that high school grades don’t matter after high school. I would have spent a lot more time playing Starcraft.

And remember those stuffy honors kids? They took every AP course, had a 4.0 GPA, did sports, were cheerleaders and student body presidents and homecoming royalty and had tons of friends. Everyone thought they were going to be successful entrepreneurs and world travelers. Well, some of them are. Others are working at McDonald’s. You just never know sometimes.

For most of us, college is a time of great change, of great self-discovery. Embrace that to its fullest. Explore yourself. Connect with friends. Pursue new passions. Expound upon anything and everything, But don’t do it around me, for goodness’ sake.

Views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of The Easterner.