Expectation vs Reality: College Edition


Some of us walk into things knowing exactly w

A student graduating from Adelphi University.

hat we want and how we’re going to achieve them. Others, may think they know what they want, but in the midst of going through the motion of it all, feelings change as experiences begin to shape us.

Four years of numerous, sleepless nights. Four years of being prepared to enter the real world, where adults must work to make ends meet and beyond that. College is different from high school, as the experiences and knowledge gained in college shapes you into the person you want to become and helps direct you towards the path that will suit you best.

The college experience is different for each individual. Where one may go into college with the mindset of becoming a nurse and actually graduating as a nurse, another may go into college expecting to become a speech pathologist and finishing off college by going into law school. College makes both of these paths okay, as these four years are full of experience and finding oneself — not everything is set in stone and that is okay.  

For both Ourania Kassimos and her longtime friend Brianna Bosque, college was an experience where they pursued their dream job—nursing. Having graduated Adelphi University on May 19th of 2019, they were able to reflect a great amount. Ourania and Brianna showcase one side of the spectrum, where two individuals go into college knowing exactly what they want to chase, without doubt or hesitation. Throughout their four years, their mindsets did not change, although their expectations of what college would be like may have been different from the reality of it.

“I expected college to be similar to highschool, where classes were not as demanding, and you were able to finish HW in three hours. However, I also expected to learn a lot and to make a lot of memories and experience new things that I had never experienced before,” explains AU graduate Brianna Bosque.

Brianna and Ourania found that the courses they were taking in relation to their major were meant for them, they were always interested in learning more each and every day whether it was in the classroom or clinical field. So for these two women, a change in their career path was unnecessary as they continued to pursue their passion.

Although their mindsets did not change, some expectations were not fully met. Being a commuter definitely plays a major role in the college experience, as Ourania feels that took away from the social aspect of the college life.

“Coming from a small high school where everyone was close I felt like a small fish in a giant fish bowl. So academic wise I definitely got what I wanted from Adelphi but social wise I think I can say I wish I had a chance to do more. College did give me the opportunity to realize that I would one day love to be a part of doctors beyond borders as I was able to study abroad,” Ourania says.

Unlike Ourania and Brianna, some individuals go into college wanting to learn more about themselves, unsure of what path they should take. Shirley Troche graduated in 2019 from Fordham University as a double major in communications and new media as well as spanish language and literature. Going into college undecided, she was ready for anything.

“I went in to college undecided and didn’t declare until the end of my sophomore year. I think I used the first two years to try and decipher what classes I liked most and then picked my majors based on those classes, not really understanding or focusing on what career I wanted to pursue,” says Shirley Troche, a Fordham University graduate.

Everyone has different expectations of how things will turn out, with college many don’t know what to expect while others have a vision of what they might experience.

“Regarding the social aspect, I don’t think it was what I expected it to be, but I think this has more to do with the fact that I was a commuter and balancing a full time job while going to school. In regards to the academics, it was what I expected it to be in terms of the limitations due to the core requirements. I was hoping that I would have time to take a different range of courses but honestly knew that the core classes would take away from taking electives that could have helped me pick a career,” Shirley explains.

Sometimes, one must be ready to expect the unexpected. Caterina Catalano graduated from St. John’s University in 2017, as she pursued Speech Pathology and Audiology until her last semester of college, when she realized in March of her final year that she would be pursuing law and going into law school. This was a drastic change, but her individualized experience led to her change in path. She understood that college was going to be what she made of it, and despite the fact that she had not taken any law-related classes in college, she was ready to continue her education with a new career goal in mind because of what she gained from her own college experience.

“Now that I have graduated, I gained more than I anticipated. I learned how to study, how to communicate with professors and peers, and most importantly how to prioritize my time. I also learned that it’s never too late to change majors/careers,” Caterina explains.

Some think that college is all about the party life, or where joining a sorority is the typical thing to do. Others may think college is the last step to their long life career goal that they’ve been focused on since the 8th grade. There are some, who expect college to be a time where they will find themselves and what they want to pursue, but sometimes the reality of college is much different from the expectations of it yet it still works in favor of the individual if they are able to take their experience and mold it into something bigger and better.

“College was not what I expected. A lot of people can offer advice about what to do in college, but college is a really an individualized experience, it’s really what you make of it. In high school, a lot of opportunities are handed to you. In college, you have to make a conscious effort to put yourself out there, either by joining organizations or simply participating in class,” Caterina says.

College may even open up doors to new ideas and new goals to reach for. Some might expect to leave college and be done with school for the rest of their lives, for others college might have just been a start to something greater.

“College has made me realize that there is no end to learning, there is always room to learn more and more. I do wish to continue on for my master and my doctorate in the future,” explains Ourania.

Every individual has their own college experience that shapes them into the person that walks down the stage to accept their diploma four years later. Both the expectations of college and the reality of it is different for everyone. Although college is not absolute – and you may graduate having no idea where life will take you next (or the complete opposite), it is safe to say that the experiences are rich in knowledge, growth, friendships and so on. Be open to new things and new ideas, because you never know where college might take you or what it might teach you.  

– by Anastasia Katehis ’20