• Ethan Liebross

The Expectations and Realities of College

Updated: Jul 4, 2020

Two weeks of college have passed (Oh my!), so I would say I have a partial, okayish, understanding of  “college life” and that I am qualified to provide some updates. So here it comes…

Expectation #1: Meet some interesting scholars


Just kidding. I have met some incredibly talented classmates. Why not start with my roommate? (1) He has dual citizenship in Israel (2) He can solve a Rubik cube in 18 seconds (3) He built his PC from scratch. I learn something new about him everyday. Fun fact: olives are his go-to snack. 

Others come from all over the world (China, India, France, etc). One friend I met has done research at Upenn. I met Harshal Deshmukh who is CEO of an organization that has taught over 3000 children in India computer literacy. Read more here: Another good friend of mine is founder of a company called NicNac Charities, Inc., which has recently received a quarter of a million dollars in grants. The list of fascinating classmates go on and on and I hope to interact with more throughout the coming years.

Expectation #2: Loads of free time

Reality: Not having enough time to make it to the first club meeting. Fun fact #2: There were three club meetings happening on a Monday night at the SAME EXACT TIME. I loved them all equally, but a choice had to be made. (That choice will go unnamed). 

Expectation #3: Not enough time to sleep.

Reality: There is enough time to sleep, with one slight, minuscule caveat: that you manage your time effectively. I value sleep A LOT. I try to get at least 9 hours of sleep each night. Sleep is fuel for the body.  I run on premium and only premium or else I crash. In college, pulling all-nighters is often glamorized, sometimes even seen as heroic. But the problem lies in the aftereffects of poor sleep: picture a groggy, moody morning where you can’t pay attention in class and then you fall behind and the cycle repeats. But, if you budget your time and make sure you get on your assignment as soon as they come up, you can make time for that wonderful 9 hour long doze. (More to come on the benefits of sleep in a future blog, so look out).

Expectation #4: Mean professors 

Reality: Most professors I have interacted with are super kind and will bend over backwards to help you out. My math professor announced on the first day with a smile, “There are no stupid questions” and inside my head I screamed, ”Thank YOU!!”

Expectation #5: You’ll have everything figured out pretty quickly

Reality: I thought by this point (two weeks in) I would know exactly what clubs I want to join, have a research position in a lab, find the perfect balance between social life and school work, have an understanding of the grades I can get in class, etc… But everything takes time. My dad always says, ”Things will always take twice as long as you think.” I should have listened to him because he’s right. But what I have come to learn is that taking things slow, not being overly ambitious, and realizing that things will take time is smart. Don’t worry, the time will come to do everything you ever wanted to do. But to be the happiest student and to kill it in class requires patience.

In conclusion… *Talk to more classmates because everyone has a story waiting to be heard. *Sleep more! *Don’t let your ego get ahold of you. Instead, start the semester off at a nice cruising, 25mph pace. Even 15mph won’t hurt.

Note: Post was originally published two weeks into my freshman year of college, on September 6th, 2018

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