Unrealistic Expectations You Need to Let Go of as a College Student

Having unrealistic expectations can be damaging to your college experience. We reveal what some of these are and how you can manage your expectations better.

Published 27 Oct 2020

Unrealistic Expectations You Need to Let Go of as a College Student - Feature-Image

College should be fun, educational and some of the best years of your life.

But what if it’s not? What if you’re breaking under pressure because of all the expectations you need to live up to?

Here are some unrealistic expectations that you need to let go of as a college student.

#1. You’ll be able to do it all

College Students Unrealistic Expectations-Able to do all

We all step into college with a mindset that it’s going to be way better than high school. No uniforms, exciting new clubs for you to explore, great campus life — what’s not to love?

But trying to do it all — academic responsibilities (exams, assignments, group projects), extra-curricular activities, social life, personal life, internships, part-time jobs — is a recipe for overwhelming stress and anxiety. Expecting that you can balance everything with ease will only lead to a burnout.

Instead, prioritise what’s most important and don’t bite off more than you can chew. Whether it’s putting studies or your mental health first, figuring what works for you will make your life significantly less stressful!

#2. You’re supposed to have the best time of your life

College Students Unrealistic Expectations-Best college life

It’s often said that college is the best time of your life. And for the most part, it’s true. College is where you’ll make loads of friends from all walks of life, learn to be independent and have a chance to understand yourself better.

However, the “full college experience” may not be the same for everyone. And being bombarded with these images can make you feel like you’re not doing college right, especially if you’re struggling to make friends, aren’t going to all the happening events on campus or can’t seem to find your footing. Putting an unrealistic expectation that your college life is going to be superb will only disappoint you when things don’t go the way you thought it would be.

So, it’s important that you don’t put pressure on yourself to be #livingyourbestlife in college. If you prefer to stay at home with a good book and a cup of tea or hang out with a few friends at the library, that’s okay too. You’re doing college the best way that fits for you.

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#3. You’ll have a career right after college  

College Students Unrealistic Expectations-A career after graduate

Although this is the goal, in reality, it doesn’t happen like that. With thousands of students graduating every year, the competition for jobs gets fiercer every day. This makes it difficult for graduates to stand out, even those with excellent grades.

However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll stay unemployed forever. The process of attaining a job might take some time but with the right effort and mindset, you should still be able to secure one, whether it’s in the field you want or something relevant. But don’t expect that a job will be handed out to you after college because this can affect your confidence and lower your self-esteem if your expectations are not met.

Opportunities are everywhere despite the competition. It doesn’t matter if you’re only able to get a job a month or 6 months later, you just need to trust yourself and the process of finding what you really love to do.

#4. Having your future all figured out 

College Students Unrealistic Expectations-Having future figured out

As a college student, the pressure to have everything sorted out for the future is huge. You’re expected to come up with a 5-year plan, hold leadership positions, have work experience in your field of interest and make big important decisions at such a young age.

The truth is, there’ll never be a point where you’ll have it all figured out. Everything is a learning process and you have no idea what experiences, opportunities and personal transformations you’ll go through and how they can affect what you want in life. Who knows, you might not even work in the field that you studied when you’re in college. And guess what? That’s totally okay!

While having goals and ambitions are important as it helps you move to the direction you want, it’s crucial to understand that your interests can change and that everyone’s journey to success is different and not linear. But that doesn’t make you any less successful than others.

In conclusion, there’s no blueprint to how college should be experienced. It’s important that you shape your years in the way you want by focusing on the education aspect and figuring out what is going to make you the happiest. If nothing else, you’ll leave college with a degree under your belt in a subject you love.

Is your college life not going according to plan? Here’s what you can do.

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    Nina Fazil

    Nina Fazil

    A work in progress — has been for the past 24 years.