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The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Opinion: College looks different for everyone

College+experience+column+illustration
College experience column illustration

The first semester is something most students dream or worry about for months on end. College is full of life-changing events and preparing for it can be both exciting and overwhelming.
The idea of having the picture-perfect college experience is shoved down the throats of teenagers everywhere as they prepare for the next phase of their lives. While it may not seem like it in the movies, everyone’s college experience looks different. It should be okay to take time to adjust to the new environment, rarely go to parties and direct focus toward grades.
Most students are excited to move to college because of the newfound freedom, but adjusting to a completely different environment can be tough. Leaving friends, family and home is a lot of sudden change at once and it can have a large effect on students’ mental health. According to the Mayo Clinic, at least 1 in 3 college students experience depression and anxiety.
When I got to Texas State, I felt as if the people around me had already adjusted to life on campus. It seemed like I was missing out because I was choosing to take my time rather than immediately jumping into things that I wasn’t comfortable with.
It’s important to remember that everyone adjusts to new environments at their own pace and that is okay. It can be tempting to give into peer pressure, but taking the time to do what is best for you is incredibly beneficial.
Jenna Watson-West, a criminal justice freshman, agrees that students should be able to focus on themselves.
“I can see where comparison and not really feeling like [college] is right for them could come into play if [they] don’t realize that everyone adapts at a different speed,” Watson-West said.
One of the biggest college stereotypes portrayed in the media is parties. Texas State is no stranger to party culture and is often being labeled as one of the top party schools in Texas.
During the college application process, Texas State was my top choice. I knew it had an environment and learning culture that would suit me best, plus the campus is beautiful. When explaining this to people, I could tell they were silently judging my choice.
Often referred to as a second-choice university, Texas State is sometimes looked down upon as it is behind The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M College Station on a list of public universities in the state, according to Best Colleges. However, Texas State is on Princeton Reviews ‘Top 388 Colleges’ list. But the aforementioned mentality can be detrimental to some students because they might begin to believe that they, along with their university, aren’t good enough.
According to a feature from Huffington Post, representation matters more than we like to believe. The article discusses on-screen diversity, but the same idea can be applied to the way college is portrayed.
Media plays a large role in how people perceive themselves, and because most college students are still young and impressionable, they have a tendency to believe what they see. According to Times Higher Education, over 80% of incoming students use social media to research prospective universities.
The stories that we see in the media, whether it be in movies or on socials, affect the way we think about real-life subjects. When students are surrounded by the mentality that Texas State is “only a party school” or “only a second choice,” it can create a misunderstanding.
There are so many ways for students to connect with campus life. According to the Student Organizations Council, there are over 400 registered organizations that students have the opportunity to be involved in.
Over 3,100 students are involved in the intramural sports program, and there are countless other groups and clubs to join. With options such as the Comedy Association, Student Government and the Songwriting Society, there is a group for everyone.
Along with campus involvement, Texas State students have many opportunities to give back to the San Marcos community. Events such as Bobcat Build, a one-day volunteer service project with over 4,000 student volunteers, and Bobcat Break, an opportunity for students to travel to communities and engage in service during university breaks, give Bobcats the chance to make a difference.
With so many new experiences, finding time to focus on grades is something that can be tough for students. While classes may be more spread out than they were in high school, students can expect to have more responsibility than they did before.
During freshman year, it’s common for the majority of one’s classes to be basics. This can make it tempting to disregard attending class and completing assignments on time. Some students may even feel pressured by others to put social events over important school activities.
Texas State often rewards those who do well in their classes. At the close of each semester, students have the chance to make the dean’s list if they have a minimum GPA of 3.5 and are taking at least 12 credit hours. In addition to this, the Bobcat Online Scholarship System (BOSS) is a way for students to receive scholarships throughout their college careers. Scholarships open on Nov. 1 of each year and most of them have minimum GPA requirements.
Though students don’t start core classes for their majors until later on, freshman year is arguably the most important year of college. According to NPR, it sets the foundation for the rest of one’s college experience. If the first year is spent slacking off, the potential for academic success drops.
Going out and having a social life is necessary, but the main purpose of college is academics. According to a study done by Niznik Behavioral Health, only 27% of students went into college with the intent to party while 90% intended to further their education. Students shouldn’t feel pressured to put school on the backburner; it is okay for grades to take priority.
While everyone adjusts to college differently, new experiences are always great. Making friends and having a social life are incredibly important. Without a solid support system, college can get lonely. Stepping out of one’s comfort zone, even just for one night, can lead to personal growth. Freshman year is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and that fact should not be taken for granted.
Although I have only been at Texas State for a short time, I have quickly realized that it is okay to experience college in your own way. Despite the media’s representation of college, remember to have fun in the way that feels most comfortable to you.
– Rhian Davis is a journalism freshman
The University Star welcomes Letters to the Editor from its readers. All submissions are reviewed and considered by the Editor-in-Chief and Opinions Editor for publication. Not all letters are guaranteed for publication.

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