There Is No “College Experience”

there is no college experience

You might be able to guess the main plot points of the average college career: dorm living, dining hall food, crappy roommates, parties, a bit of studying, all the ups and downs. Hijinks ensue, then you graduate. It’s predictable.

What’s not predictable, however, are the myriad of things in between: clubs, sports, Greek life, who to hang out with, and what you choose to do in your spare time. On just about any campus, there are tons of opportunities available for every type of person.

These more “average” things are not shown in many depictions of college in shows or movies: seldom would you see Elle Woods or “Bluto” Blutarsky choosing what electives to take, and you wouldn’t really want to. You simply want to see the most interesting bits, fitting several months of activity into just two hours.

The reality is that there’s so much time between the “movie moments,” of college, and it’s what you do with those hours that makes college what it truly is.

Though there are many things for you to spend those hours on throughout your college career, what’s not necessarily implied is that, in the majority of cases, there’s simply too many different experiences offered on campus to do them all.

Therefore, with every decision you make to do one thing, you’re forced to miss out on something else. It’s a pretty obvious aspect of life, but it can make a lot of your choices appear to bear the weight of, like, a really big rock or something. You actually may be right, depending on the size of the rock you’re imagining. But chances are, you’re imagining too big of a rock.

I can understand how that (descriptive and great) rock analogy can be confusing. Let me elaborate:

Throughout college, you make a ton of decisions by yourself that solely affect you, which can be terrifying. These can range from, “What should I do today?” to “Should I just drop out and join a cult?” These choices (which tend to come in bulk) are a very new experience for a lot of people.

When you think of what club to join, or whether you want to participate in Greek life, keep in mind which option that you think will bring you the most fun, or the most fulfillment. If you ask for opinions from others, that’s great. They can provide insight on things you may not have known or considered.

However, keep in mind that they’re not you. They may speak highly of what they support or are involved in, or lowly of what you want. Everyone is entitled to that, but don’t let anyone steer you away from what you truly desire.

College is very likely the first time in your life that you can do whatever you want, and I think it’s essential to utilize that fact. Do what you want to do.

With that said, there’s no golden rule saying that you have to attend a sporting event or party in order to have a good time in college. If that isn’t your idea of fun, then why put yourself through it?

I also want to recommend that you should do something with your time. Sure, it’s more than okay to take some days off here and there to marathon Netflix (I’d recommend Bojack Horseman if you’re out of stuff to watch), but it wouldn’t hurt to consider doing something productive and/or fun with those free hours. Whether that’s reading, learning an instrument, or attending a club meeting is up to you.

There will always be something or someone who suits your interests. Sometimes, you just have to look a little harder.


Despite thousands (or hundreds, for you smaller school folk) of people alongside you at your campus, your own path is carved through the choices you make there. Every journey is different because every person is different.

Most experiences share the classic parallels of going off on your own for the first time, but each person’s life is still remarkably unalike. This is why there’s not much of a “College Experience” to be had in the first place.

I’d also like to stress the fact that though you may not be having “the best four years of your life,” it’s okay. Join the club. We got jackets.

You are just here to get an education, first and foremost. Whatever you choose to do between that education is completely up to you… but I recommend you do some livin’.

Also published on Medium.