What IS "The College Experience" Anyway?
You know, after almost four years of college, you’d think that I’d know what The College Experience is…but I really don’t. If you believe pop culture myths, it involves a lot of parties and drinking, an improbably-interesting love life, a bedtime around 3 AM, and maybe, occasionally, attending a class or two.
The thing is, though, that that doesn’t describe my experience. Not even a little bit. I have been to exactly one party in my four years here (at which I got bored twenty minutes in and left). Romance hasn’t really been on the radar, either, and I’m one of those super cool people who are lucky if they make it to 11 PM (but, to be fair, are usually up around six). All-nighters? Ha, nope, my best work is done around 3 PM, thanks. And I almost always go to class.
But am I missing out? I don’t think so. While I have nothing against parties in theory, for an introvert with an early bedtime like me, they are way more work than they’re worth. I’d much rather spend a Friday night at the play, having a movie night or a cooking party with my friends, or even with some snacks and a book. And I could never leave something major off until the last minute; an all-nighter would stress me out to no end.
And just because I’m not involved in, say, Greek life or sports, I am still involved on campus, just as part of more academic pursuits, like working in the Writing Center, or doing German mentoring. I love my classes, and have worked pretty closely with faculty in my department, so I’m engaged that way, too. And it’s not like I’m a hermit; I have a fantastic group of friends, just one comprised of people who prefer Disney movies to wild and crazy shenanigans.
Now, I want to get one thing straight—I certainly don’t have anything against partying. Or Greek life. Or people who stay up till 4 AM and sleep till noon. In fact, I’m kind of jealous of people who are still reasonably human at 10 PM (which is, by the by, the time most parties start). All of these things are components of some people’s experiences of college. What I don’t like, though, is defining The College Experience, at all, really. There are so many different ways to go through this process that it seems silly and reductive (look, a fancy academic word!) to insist that there can be only one. In this case, there can be as many as there are students in the university system. I’m not really sure what The College Experience is, but I know that my college experience, despite not having much to do with stereotypical ideas of College Student, has been a pretty great one.