This time of year always makes me reminiscent of my time as a college student. Students are moving in, advertisements are “back to school” themed, and incoming students are more nervous than ever. Every freshman goes through this, and they’re often told about the people they will meet. They’ll hear about their roommates, their new best friends, and all of the student organizations. Then, there are other personalities you meet while you’re in college. Perhaps these are quirkier, but they exist at schools across the nation. These are some of the rarer, but real, people you’ll meet in college.
The Money Chasers
It’s not uncommon for freshmen to enter as undeclared. Many students start by taking their pre-reqs and hope to discover a passion along the way. These are not those people. While these people haven’t found their calling in life, they’re going to begin their college experience in a major with strong career outcomes. I know someone who entered as a civil engineering major for this very reason. He didn’t know his passion, so he figured he’d chase the money. Then there was the girl who began as a chemistry major, knowing the sciences had good career outlooks. Both of these people changed their majors and have found success in their new field.
The Alone Togethers
Almost everyone is concerned about making friends when they enter college. Some people are lucky enough to get a roommate who they instantly click with. Others will enter and choose to room with a friend from back home. After orientation, you’ll never see these people again. They will sit in their rooms with each other’s company and never venture out to meet other people. Despite your best efforts to get to know these people, they already have their best friend. Good luck trying to penetrate that barrier.
The College Catfish
People often say that college is an opportunity to reinvent yourself, but these people take that a little too seriously. They make up a life story and pass it off as truth. There’s likely some truth in their stories, but their tales are also saturated in lies. At first this may make the person interesting. He probably same some good stories or interesting experiences. Eventually someone will catch on, and the lies will come to surface. It seem silly to reinvent yourself in such a drastic way, but there are people who will do it. By the time you’ve graduated, you’ll probably have identified one or two.
The One Who Needs Mommy
As a late teen, many people still rely on their parents for support. Maybe it’s to rationalize life choices or make doctor appointments. This is part of transitioning into adulthood and I’m not taking about these people here. I’m referring to the people who don’t recognize all of the chores and daily tasks their parents do. These people will complain that the trash is piling up, but don’t recognize their mothers have been taking it out their whole lives. As time progresses, their dorms become cluttered messes until they realize beds don’t make themselves and trash doesn’t take itself out. Their parents did that and now they have to.
The Retired Athlete
College admissions push students to partake in extracurriculars, so it’s no surprise students have athletic pasts. Many college sports teams are very competitive and some majors require a much larger time commitment than others. Regardless of the reason, there are some varsity high school athletes who retire upon entering college. Gone are the days of packed schedules. Now, they are responsible for designing their own schedules. Either there’s going to find themselves constantly bored or unable to build their own schedule. Regardless of the reason, former athletes tend to be the ones who have the hardest time adjusting to the flexibility of college schedules.
The Perfect Planner
You won’t recognize this person until your third of fourth year. As a freshmen, this person will tell you his life plan. Come junior or senior year, this person stuck to that plan. It seems like he has everything figured out. His college career with support this idea. For me, it was my friend who told me he was only living on campus for two years then going to law school. After sophomore year he commuted. Now, he’s working at a law firm and has graduated from law school.
I’m incredibly jealous of these people as they seem they have everything figured out. Maybe they do, or maybe sticking to their plan is more important than exploring new passions. Regardless, this person is in the minority but he does exist.
The Ball of Stress
College is going to be stressful, but most people find a way to manage this stress. Even if it requires seeking help, and there’s no shame in that, people manage. There will be someone who finds stress in every situation, and I mean every situation. She will complete all of the assigned readings, worry about her appearance, not want to eat the wrong thing in the cafeteria, make sure her dorm is organized, the list goes on. Life is an endless to-do list, and relaxation is always at the end of the list. It can be tempting to try and help this person. Be cautious, as the stress can be contagious.
The One Who Doesn’t Want to Be There
If you’ve ever seen Pitch Perfect, Anna Kendrick plays a college freshman. She wants to be a DJ and music producer but her father insists she get her bachelor’s degree first. This type of scenario is not that uncommon. You will encounter a few people who are enrolled at your school but would rather be doing other things with their lives. They would rather be taking a gap year, pursuing an unconventional career path, or this college was their second choice. These people might be closed off, but finding the right groups or people can entirely change their experience. For Anna Kendrick it was joining acapella, but it could really be anything. Reaching out to these people might be the difference between a good and bad year in school.
Your New Competition
In high school there are always the classmates you feel you’re competing against. They get similar grades, have similar passions, and are similarly successful. It seems like you’re constantly trying to one-up these people. While it’s not a healthy habit, it’s also not uncommon. When you leave these people behind the fresh start can be a relief. Then, you meet your new classmates. Soon enough you will find people who have similar success as you and you will have a new rival. There’s usually no point in creating this sense of competition. If you truly want to stop comparing yourself to your classmates, you need to take an active approach in avoiding these thoughts. Otherwise you’ll always have classmates who you are competing against.
Ultimately, you are responsible for forming your own identity when you’re in college. You can become one of the oddball personalities listed above, but you can establish many other roles. You can become someone’s best friend or partner and you could become a stellar student. This is your chance to become a student leader or get involved in political causes. Regardless of your path in school, don’t let the your expectations dictate your experiences.
This is intended to be a somewhat humorous take on beginning college. In actuality, many of these roles can be applied to any transitional period in someone’s life. Whenever you meet a new group of people, they will begin to fall into certain roles. Don’t let these roles define people and try to give all people a chance. If you write people off based on their perceived role, you’re missing opportunities to meet a lot of great people.
Originally published at www.michaelbeausoleil.com on August 22, 2018.
If you like my work, please view my website or follow me on Medium!