The reality of the college experience


Sophomores Jack Watson and Elizabeth Oiler work on homework at the William T. Young Library on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021 at 12:48 a.m., in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Kaitlyn Skaggs | Staff

Abbey Cutrer

Throughout high school, students are told certain things about college life by teachers, mentors and parents. Not all this information is positive, and it has the potential to sway the expectations that students have going into college.

Negative expectations in high school sometimes turn into positive experiences in college. The reality is, college isn’t always as difficult as anticipated.

Current UK students had a wide range of emotions anticipating college, including excitement and anxiety.

“In high school, I thought college was scary,” junior biology major Jean Tabontabon said. “I was pretty nervous going into it, but once I got myself situated here, it was really fun. It’s easier to interact with people and make friends.”

Junior physics major Gabija Ziemyte said, “I expected college to be more isolating, but it’s not that way now; I made friends.”

Ziemyte also said she was excited for more specialized topics of study, as well as more opportunities. She added that she feels like her high school teachers’ experiences in college were different than hers because of the lack of a pandemic.

Freshman Lane Jones, a business major, said he was excited to move away from his parents and said he has “made a new home.”

One expectation that Jones had about college came from his high school teachers.

“My teachers in high school said that professors would be so mean and super strict, and they’re almost the exact same as high school,” he said. “If anything, I’ve made more relationships with my teachers here than I did in high school.”

This experience is not unique to Jones. Freshman Bella Hagan had a very similar interaction with her teachers in high school.

“My teachers in high school were like, ‘It’s going to be so hard, if you can’t do well now, then you’re going to struggle in college,’” she said.

Teachers in high school often set an oddly high standard for college in regards to class structure. According to freshman Ava Nissen, these expectations do not reflect reality.

“I thought it would be harder to never go to class, but last semester I passed all my classes and didn’t set foot in any of them for months,” Nissen said.

However, Nissen also provided a flipside for this.

Nissen said, “My freshman history teacher in high school was always talking about the lectures in college, and so that’s how he taught. He taught his class like how the lectures are taught here.”

This insight showed that some teachers in high school used college preparation techniques, and not every teacher sets unrealistic expectations.

While these students were in high school, the general consensus would have been that college would be more difficult, but this is not their perspective anymore.

“College is definitely easier than high school in the sense of going to class because I don’t have to sit through eight hours of class, and I can have a little bit more freedom,” Jones said.