Cracked.com has a good post from a few months ago outlining five things nobody tells you about college until it is too late. The post covers some things we’ve talked about here on the Praxis blog before, like that college penalizes failing more than the real world does and that you will have to take classes that are completely irrelevant to what you want to do with your life.
These five things, which the author notes most college grads can tell you are the case, but that most college freshmen don’t hear from anybody, are:
5. The first two years are just a repeat of high school — Lots of intro classes are just repeat classes of high school. Even students who go to college with advanced placement credits are oftentimes forced to take these classes over again, because the University may see itself as above these credits (oftentimes accepting the credits, but not accepting them in lieu of required classes).
4. You’ll be forced to take classes that have nothing to do with anything — This should be obvious. The basket-weaving 101 class that the engineer is forced to take as part of “Cultural Awareness Sector,” or the intro to calculus class the poetry student is forced into, these aren’t for what these students go to college.
3. Failing will cost you severely — In the real world, success is preferred to failure, obviously, but failure doesn’t result in massive penalties, both grade-wise and financially. People are able to learn from the failures much more easily than in college.
2. The new friends you make will be temporary — A lot of people say college is great because of the friends you make and the network you build up, but the fact-of-the-matter is that many of these relationships end after college.
1. College isn’t the booze-fueled orgy that movies depict — College can be 4 years of wasetful partying, but it isn’t nearly what you see in the movies.
The thing about this list is, if you ask any college graduate, they would likely not hesitate to tell you that it is completely correct. Even speaking for myself, I was excited to attend college and blocked out words of advice like this from recent college grads, thinking to myself, “that’s just their experience. I’m sure it will be different for me,” only to discover that it was not, in fact, different for me.
The thing about these five things, too, is that they aren’t inherently bad, but only bad when combined with the cost of college and the possibility that there is something better. If college truly were the only option for people, then the best advice would simply be for people to swallow their pride and put up with these five things. Thankfully, between Praxis, gap year options, and other educational platforms, college, the 4-year, massive-repeat-of-high-school, shallow-relationship, failure-penalizing institution that it is does not have to be your only option.