College is hard. Like, really hard. The freshman experience feels more like the freshman experiment this year, and it’s hard to keep up. College moves at twice the speed that high school does, and no matter how much anyone warns you, nothing will fully prepare you for the takeoff.
Navigating Canvas makes me feel like Velma in Scooby-Doo when she loses her glasses. I’m doing my best to solve the mystery, but I always feel like there are lurking assignments and deadlines that I’m missing. In fact, I missed the deadline for this article.
During syllabus week, it’s easy to predict that the semester will be a breeze, but as clubs, sports, and classes start to ramp up, free time dwindles. Syllabi are overwhelming to read, and each class is formatted differently on Canvas, so it’s easy to put off future assignments. Fully coming to the understanding that free time is never truly free is a new concept. My daily planner has become my new best friend, and time management is a full-time job.
Juggling academics, extracurriculars, and social life takes on a new level of challenge in college. In high school, I had to stick to a strict schedule and could limit my distractions easily. But in college, I’m constantly surrounded by my friends, and I’m always fighting the urge to take a six-hour nap without anyone telling me otherwise. Everything is overwhelming and exciting all at once, and it’s hard to focus.
With so much on my plate at the same time, things can slip through the cracks of my schedule, despite my best efforts at organization. This last Friday, for example, I reached peak freshman experience when I was late to a TA meeting because I couldn’t find the Million Dollar Stairs. I kept walking in circles around Devlin because I thought there would be a grander entrance for a staircase coined THE Million Dollar Stairs. I did eventually find them, but not without first pulling the Freshman-180 once or twice.
Beyond academics, transitioning into semi-adulthood is difficult. I normally did my own laundry at home, but now laundry is a stressful race to the finish line. There are only six washers and dryers to share with my entire building, and nothing is more devastating than lugging your laundry downstairs and walking in the laundry room to find piles of random people’s clothes lying around full machines. Once you do get your clothes in the washer or dryer, you can never know true peace again, either, because you’re waiting to rush back downstairs and grab your laundry befores someone else boots it.
Even eating is hard, because every single decision is now up to me. I usually have to remind myself to eat three meals a day, and when I do, I have to go through a survey of questions: “When should I eat? With who? What dining hall? Wait, what time do I have class—do I even have enough time?” As a result, my roommate and I have currently lived off of spicy ramen noodles for the last two weeks.
In order to supply our ramen consumption, we’ve been receiving Amazon deliveries almost every day, which is another freedom that requires restraint. While college might be hard, ordering things on Amazon is ridiculously easy. Unlike at home, there’s no one here to tell me I don’t need a STONKS flag for my dorm or a harmonica (both are completely necessary). After my roommate and I garnered enough cardboard boxes to fill a small landfill in the course of a week, I denied myself the luxury of keeping an Amazon tab open.
The newfound freedom of college is exciting, but the transition is not always glamorous. It’s natural to make mistakes or falter before fully getting used to being more independent. But this independence goes hand-in-hand with a greater amount of responsibility and accountability that will ultimately help me grow.
Featured Graphic by Ally Mozeliak / Heights Editor