College: Expectations vs. Reality

Sometimes college just isn’t what we thought it would be. Louise Clancy writes about some of the expectations and realities we all share when we begin our college lives.

When you first arrive to university, you are excited that you are finally finished with school but a little nervous. No matter how you felt about the situation you had many ideas in your head of what your life in college would be like. As the weeks go by, you realise that some of these ideas are not exactly what you had in mind. This article will list the most common situations in college where the expectations and reality often clash.

College Work


Student using laptop in grass
Student using laptop in grass

You did the Leaving Cert last year which was absolute hell. But now you’re in college with less hours and all you have to do is show up to the lectures, read some stuff, and write some essay which you have lots of time for. It will be so easy!



Sure, it is not the Leaving Cert but you are introduced to the new bane of your existence: essays. It takes up so much time with the readings you forgot to do weeks ago and referencing is confusing, and that is before you get to writing! You also Snapchat the Students Union on how you are procrastinating. But you will get there when you eventually turn off Facebook.




You are going to make so many friends from so many parts of college from housemates to class to societies to nights out. You will do so many fun things with them and you will be friends with them for life!


Nerdy Friends

You realise for the first time you are bad at making conversations and even when you meet new people you might never see them again in a college of over 20,000 students. It takes a lot longer than you expected and you end up being close to a select few and acquaintances with many more who you might know later on in college. But hey, at least the ones you do get to know well are the ones that will be with you for life!




You are living away from home for the first time. The house looked good in the brochure. It is pretty cool you get to buy food for yourself and cook whatever you want. And you will be able to watch movies and go on nights out with your  housemates.



Okay the house is smaller and mouldier than you thought. You’re figuring out where the clothes go and where to put your shampoo in the communal bathroom. But at least it’s yours! Pasta becomes your best friend and vegetables are not a priority. As for the housemates, chatting in the same room is sometimes the best it gets, the worst is either questioning if they actually leave their room/live here at all, or you end up hating each other and somebody moves out by semester 2.




With the new found freedom and bunch of mates, you can dress to the nines and party all night, every night.



You tried that at Freshers Week, but you stopped functioning by Wednesday from sleep deprivation, junk food and running out of money. You realise partying once or twice a month is a better idea and a relaxed dining atmosphere is a good way to get to know people.



Courtesy of Emmet Curtin Photography
Courtesy of Emmet Curtin Photography

 The clubs and socs sign-up days have arrived. You have ideas of societies and clubs based on interests. You always wanted to try that new sport you’ve heard about. Joining a charity would be rewarding for the people you’re helping and the CV. And you will attend all of them and meet everyone there!


Societies Guild

You joined up to the societies you intended on signing up for; as well as least 3 societies you have never heard of before and have no intention of going to, but they had free sweets! You try to attend all the societies you promised to but they either clashed, you forgot they had an event or you were too busy/tired to go. In the end, you go to the ones you liked most and had the most friends in, and you will feel better for it.

Even though college isn’t always what you expected, in other ways it is better than what your expectations could ever be. These imperfect 3-4 years of college are yours.

It’s best you enjoy them while you have them.


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