reflections on college | university experience

Going to college was, surprisingly, not something I thought about too much when I was younger. I loved to imagine what job I would have in the future, where I would live, the people I would meet – but never what I would study at university. In retrospect, I believe this was an early sign that third level education would not be the formative experience it constitutes for so many. To say that it would have no impact on my life would be an understatement, but it was not to be a period of transformation.

As time went on I became more aware that change was imminent. Having said this, it wasn’t until I was about 15 that I had made (what I thought was) a firm decision regarding what I wanted to pursue in college. I was convinced that I wanted to study psychology, given my fascination with the human mind. My outlook shifted when I thought more pragmatically; i.e. what I excelled in at school versus what made me cry on a regular basis. The latter being anything maths and science related, I veered away from psychology and chose to do a bachelor of arts in languages. Fast forward through exams, results and college offers, I have a place on my course and I’m ready to go.

This is when things go downhill. Sort of. My experience in college has been odd in the sense that I haven’t hated it, but I definitely haven’t loved it. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so indifferent towards something. Academically speaking it’s all been fine, but to this day I feel utterly unstimulated. This combination of indifference and lack of stimulation has not been a good experience. I cannot count the number of times I’ve mentally destroyed myself with regret, agonising over what could have been if I’d chosen a course I was genuinely interested in. Normally this doesn’t last any longer than a day, and I have ploughed on through the very worst of essays and assignments.

The social element of college has also been a mixed bag. I’ve met some wonderful friends over the years, and for that I am incredibly grateful. Many of the people I have crossed paths with in college have restored my faith in humanity, in stark contrast to my experience in secondary school. Having said all of this, the way in which I view socialising has changed quite a lot. If you read my previous post on what constitutes fun, you will know that I’m not really one for parties or going out. Much of the social scene in college revolves around parties, drinking, etc etc. As you can imagine this isn’t something that sits well with me, but it’s no big deal. You can navigate your way around it quite easily.

I would love to say that going to college has been a worthwhile experience, but I’m honestly unsure if I would stretch that far. What I will say is that I have a far healthier relationship with how I view educational institutions; secondary school was downright hellish at times, but I feel as though many of my wounds have healed and I am ready to move on. This wouldn’t have been possible without learning that I could be happy in a school-like setting – i.e. I would still feel terrible if I hadn’t chosen to go to college.

I’ve re-written the end of this piece about six times, but I can’t figure out what the most effective conclusion would be. I don’t even know if there is a conclusion to all of this. If I don’t stop writing here i’ll just end up rambling (because that isn’t what I’ve been doing for this entire piece), so here are a few things I’ve learned from my experience in university. Some ‘reflections’, if you will.

  • I hate working in groups; always have, probably always will. I tried to get involved with society work (we have clubs and societies in most Irish third level institutions), but… it’s a no from me.
  • You are your single biggest priority.
  • Education is important, but it comes in many many forms. Living in this world is an education in and of itself.
  • People can change, for better or for worse.
  • Facing fears is important, but you don’t have to like what it is you once feared. I don’t fear travelling for long periods of time anymore, but I still don’t like it.
  • Routine is essential; much and all as you may dream of days off and lie-ins on a week day while you’re at school, a lack of structure can create all sorts of practical and emotional problems.
  • Disillusionment is worse than hatred. It’s better to feel something than nothing at all. I would honestly say that my worst maths classes were better than some days I’ve spent in college feeling lifeless.
  • It may be true that quitters never win, but quitters also have a chance to move on and try news things. Giving up is not a sign of weakness. So, maybe quitters do win from time to time.
  • The whole ‘you’re only young once’ thing is true, but you can adapt it to your own wants and needs. I may not go out at night all that often, but that doesn’t mean I’m not experimenting with new things.

If you’ve reached the end of this and thought ‘why the f*ck did I read this whole thing when I could have just scrolled to that list at the end’ – you could have, but a lot of the above wouldn’t have made sense. I hope I set the scene appropriately, and that you don’t feel like I did in maths class all those years ago.

If you’re about to start college, or if you’re already wrist-deep into your degree, I wish you the very best of luck in the future. The present is not forever, realistically we’re all gonna be just fine. Or so we hope. It’s all to play for.

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

Author: The Electric Oracle

Hello! My name is Clodagh, and I run 'The Electric Oracle'. You can read a little more about me on - you guessed it - the 'about' section of my page.

35 thoughts on “reflections on college | university experience”

  1. This. I can’t say I completely feel you on this, but with the “indifference” while being at uni- COMPLETELY feel you. *fistbump* 👊🏻👐🏻

    Liked by 2 people

  2. For me it got much better once I finished my career. You would be surprised to know how many people study one or two careers and end up working in a very different field. But every thing we have the opportunity to learn, serve us later.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The good news is that real life is not like college…especially when you don’t enjoy college. 🙂
    The reality is, college really just kind of to teach you a way to learn. Of course many people learn differently than the way school teaches.
    The real world and a job is when you really start to learn. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. An enjoyable read. And this coming form someone who barely made it through secondary education. For me, work has been a valuable education, especially in dealing with others, and like you my faith has been restored in humanity by working with lots of very different people. I also value, the internet as a great tool to augment traditional book learning, for independent learners. Some very good advice – thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Wow! What an amazing post. I had similar experiences. My first two years in college were riddled with confusion and disillusionment towards my initial choice of major. Eventually, I managed to give that one up and pursue my true passion, but it took time for someone as stubborn as myself to get there first. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I think it’s completely fair enough that university/college life isn’t for everyone! It’s just a matter of fact, that not everyone likes the same thing! It’s really good to read posts from people similar to my age(i’m guessing you are, as i’m at uni now) about education and everything that comes with it!
    Lovely post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think there’s so much pressure to find yourself and choose your career path within those four years. There’s not enough time or the opportunity to explore. I changed my major a couple of times and still had no idea what I was going to do after I graduated. Some people know right away, and some, like me, take longer to figure things out. But I think it makes for an interesting journey! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your piece made me think about my road to where I am today. My path has changed and even stalled for some time. I started out in the arts and didn’t think college was going to be for me. I excelled greatly in school but wanted a path of stardom and entertainment. I ended up getting hurt while dancing and my career in dance and theatre stalled. I didn’t know what to do and I ended up sucked into business and retail. I excelled in the field become an area manager but I wasn’t satisfied. I ended up taking some time to reflect and went back for psychology and ultimately I masters in Counseling. I am now an LPC on my way to an LCPC and looking at PhD programs.

    I didn’t find myself while in college, I found my path when I decided to take a break, reflect and experience the world. I am happier now than I ever would have been.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It sounds like you’ve definitely taken the scenic route in your career path – definitely for the better! I’m sorry to hear about you dance injury, I was a dancer too so I can empathise. Thank you for sharing your experience + I hope that one day I find my source of fulfilment just as you have! X

      Liked by 1 person

  9. From personal experience I’m finding that uni is so much more enjoyable as a mature student. I’m studying what I want because it’s 100% a personal indulgence, I’ve nobody to answer and I don’t have a future career depending on my grades. On the other side, the other 84 students between my two courses are, on average, 19 so the social side can be a tad challenging… Interesting to get your perspective.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That must be a wonderful experience! There’s a chance I’ll go back to college at some point in the future to study something for the sheer joy of it, but as of now I cannot wait to leave. Thank you for reading! X

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  10. Hi. I see you recently liked my new blog. Thanks for that. I’ve just recently followed you and I’m glad you liked my blog. Looking forward to hearing from you and reading more of your blogs! Thanks again X

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  11. This isn’t just an education experience. i have days where i feel like i’m lifeles, and i’m a married 28 year old with my own house (no kids). I’ve only just started learning the job i’d like to follow that I actually like. i’ve spent 10+ years working for nothing (or so it feels) but I can truthfully tell you that after your education you can always change what you want to do with your life. Just never Jodge any option before you try it. I’ve been much happier with my life since I have and It’s the one rule in life I wish I could have told myself a good 17 years ago when i started high school.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I always have time for people who have time for strangers. that’s how you meet the best of them. I loose attention quite quick so i put either a lot of thought into what i write or none at all 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh I have to leave my house if I get a block or i’d do anything else, i’ve even cleaned once instead of writing. But the thought of getting someone to try something new, or just to see the world a little better is worth it. Thank you for your time by the way

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow, couldn’t have put it any better. I have to admit I definitely can relate, but your reflections have really got me thinking about what matters most with this whole college thing

    Liked by 1 person

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