What is College Really Like?

Two students at the UMCIt’s the midst of senior year. You’re attending college fairs, narrowing down your final list of schools, writing essays like crazy, mailing transcripts left and right…but you’re almost done! Sooner than you know it, you’ll be on your way to college! But…then what?

For most new college students, completing the application process feels like the end of the line. It certainly is a huge milestone – you can’t go if you don’t apply first, right? You’ve been working on these applications for months! Beyond confirming your intent to enroll, the idea of “what’s next” in the college process can bring about a whole new cloud of mysteries, concerns and questions. There are lots of ideas out there about what going to college is actually like – you may have seen plenty of movies, have older friends or siblings or have even talked with current students or staff members on campus. Everyone’s college experience is going to be unique and different, but there are some major themes you can expect out of your time as a college student:

Academics. College-level academic work is very different from high school; you are expected to read and write significantly more than you were before (regardless of your major!). You will be expected to come to class every day with your homework, readings and assignments completed. Your professors may not always check to see that you have done the work, but if you don’t, you could quickly fall behind. In college, you are viewed as a responsible adult and expected to take care of the work you need to take care of in order to keep up in class. You are choosing to be here, after all! And while the work level greatly increases in college, the number of supports and resources you have increases too – take advantage of free tutoring services, study groups and professor’s office hours every chance you can. You may not have needed to study much to do well in high school, but EVERY college student can benefit from utilizing the many academic support services offered on campus.

Schedule. In high school, your day might have looked something like this: Wake up at 7 am, go to school from 8 to 4, club meetings or practice until 6, dinner and then homework until bed time. In college, your daily schedule is going to look very different. It will seem like you have A LOT more free time! But proceed with caution – all that extra time in your day can be used much more efficiently than sunbathing on Farrand Field, no matter how tempting it seems. Studies suggest that for every hour of time you spend in a college class, you should spend between two and three hours studying, reviewing notes, reading and doing assignments. If you take a full load of courses, that means anywhere between 30 and 45 hours of your week should be spent on academic work. I know what you’re thinking…that is practically a full-time job! Exactly. And that is a good way to think about your academics in college.

But of course, there is definitely room for fun! You may also have a job on campus, or be involved in student organizations, and you’ll want to grab lunch or coffee with your friends sometimes too. As a college student, you will be in charge of your own schedule – so finding that balance between work and play will be a major key to your success.

Socializing. As a freshman at CU Boulder, you will be living on campus with nearly 6400 other first-year students. That’s a lot of new friends to meet! And there are many ways to make it feel like your new home – you may choose to join a Residential Academic Program (RAP) or Living & Learning Community (LLC) to meet other students who have similar interests as you from all over campus. Living in a residence hall means you are just steps away from the library, classes (hello, snooze button), and most importantly, the dining halls. Grab a snack and off you go! During the week days you will mostly be busy with classwork and studying, but on the weekends take a trip up to the mountains to go skiing or snowboarding, explore the eclectic shops on Pearl Street, engage in community service around Boulder through the Volunteer Resource Center, cheer on the Buffs at a football game at Folsom Field, or spend the day on a Netflix binge with your roommate. It is entirely up to you!

College is an incredible time in your life to learn not only about the field you are interested in, but also about yourself and explore new things. There are limitless opportunities for you on campus, and all you have to do is seek them out.

 

Brittany Dye

Brittany Dye
Admissions Counselor
Office of Admissions
Brittany.Dye@colorado.edu