After coming to college, I’ve noticed that a common sentiment about our university lifestyles compared to how we lived in high school is that we “peaked in high school.” After spending our whole childhood attending classes for seven straight hours a day after waking up at the crack of dawn, then leaving school and spending all night at sports practices or work only to come home to more monotonous homework assignments, it’s natural to believe that our routines in college seem lackluster and slow in comparison. However, it’s unfair to assume that a slower lifestyle in college means our daily accomplishments are any less impressive or meaningful than they were in high school. Feeling differently about waking up for 8 a.m. classes or going out to try something new every day is okay.
The mental strength of surviving a day in college is more taxing than we often let ourselves realize. Rather than coming home to dinner on the table in the homes we grew up in, we now have our first experience in living and learning on our own, often in a new city we are unfamiliar with. This makes us spend more energy getting used to our surroundings and processing more new information that used to simply make sense about our lives before, so though we may not realize it, our brains are doing a lot of processing in ways they didn’t have to in the past.
On top of that, more time in college is spent preparing for a future that is entirely unknown but entirely our own. Our assignments may take more time and thinking than they did in high school, more stress is attached to each assignment because good grades are harder to come by, many opportunities for work and personal development are available to us, but deciding which ones to take and following through is sometimes overwhelming, and we have to manage all of these moving parts with less support nearby. It sometimes feels like the world is on your shoulders in college, even if you don’t understand why because you’re outwardly doing less each day than it seemed like you used to.
You shouldn’t let your change in lifestyle discourage you from believing in your abilities. College represents a period of development from your childhood self to who you start to become after you graduate, and there is an important difference between stunting your growth by becoming complacent in your work and taking the time to plant your feet in the world you’re about to step into as you go through college. College is as much about the content you learn as it is about figuring out how to be successful in life outside of school, which is vastly different than the structure of high school that we’re used to, so understand that it’s natural to feel out of place in the way you work and live while in college. By the time you’re finished here, you will have recognized your place and its value.