Freshmen speak out about unexpected realities of college

You’ve set up your room, said goodbye to your parents, started your classes and figured out how to do your laundry. (I, for one, had never heard of dryer sheets. I thought static was a part of life.) Let’s all give ourselves a pat on the back; Welcome Week is over and now we’re bona-fide college students, running on four hours of sleep and drowning in coffee. The past three weeks have been overwhelming for most, if not all of the freshman class. We’ve been given a new roommate, a new home, a new life.
We’ve met people from around the U.S. and the globe and desperately tried to remember all their names (thanks for the tips, Kevin Specht). It’s been a whirlwind and I can say I am not the same person who submitted my deposit back in May. When I finally chose Lawrence, I imagined late nights filled with fun, long days of lounging around campus and being involved in everything Lawrence offered.
However, some students, including myself, have already run into bumps in the road. “I thought I could do everything I wanted to, but I already have scheduling conflicts,” said Madeleine Duncan, a Conservatory student.
The activities fair was like the chaos of the stock exchange. There were clubs on all sides with bright signs and eager members, ready to pull in doe-eyed freshmen. There were numerous clubs that I had never been exposed to or had the time to get involved with.
Many of us will find that we have to sacrifice some new interests for the sake of class work and other obligations. I never thought in a million years that I’d join the Viking Chorale, or that I’d get to volunteer at PAWs every weekend. We’ll all certainly be busy, but at least I expected that.
With almost three weeks of class behind us, we should be feeling like real college students, right? Not necessarily. Freshman Torrey Smith explained, “I still don’t. It still feels like summer camp.” Even though college is hectic and overwhelming at times, a place like Lawrence is a good place to be.
Others have begun to feel the crunch of their class load. “When I had two paper rewrites due at the same time and I had to write them both on the same day, that’s when I felt like a college student,” said freshman Karina Grady.
Expectations for my classes were the furthest thing from my mind as I daydreamed about college earlier this summer. Reading “Life of Galileo” was a harsh reminder of what I was really supposed to do in this magical far-away place called college. There were many realities that we had to meet once we got here.
Student employment can be another challenge in the balancing act of college. Hannah Ganzel never expected that she’d be working as a server at Andrew Commons. “I thought I’d be [working] in the library, but I’m happy with it. I get free food.”
There are other things many of us probably didn’t expect, like homesickness. I know I felt it. The quiet town of Appleton is a big change from my hometown of Chicago. Every time I hear a siren it reminds me of home, but Appleton is beginning to feel less strange and more familiar, like a place I could see myself living for four years.
After three weeks here, college has really begun and as Ganzel reflected “This is more like home.”