The truth behind the age-old college preconceptions

Rally at Sather Gate
Dean Ignacio/File

College is a rite of passage. As such, there are many preconceived ideas associated with it, coming from everything from movies and books and television shows to commercials and magazines and parents or other relatives. They all present the same universal, idealized and stereotypical view of college. We at the Daily Clog, however, are skeptical of these preconceptions and their accuracy in today’s modern world. Therefore, we have created a highly factual and accurate analysis of the truthfulness of college expectations.

(Note: Form your own judgments as you wish)

Expectation No. 1: Your roommate in the residence hall will be your best friend for life.

Accuracy: 50 percent

For many people, this will be completely true. The chance of becoming inseparably close with your roommate in the residence halls is very likely because (a) he or she is the first person you meet when you move in, (b) you are going to be spending so much time together in a small room, (c) you will be experiencing everything for the first time along with him or her, and (d) he or she will see you at your best and your worst. Many people, however, will be paired with a roommate whom they just do not click with. This is normal, and this is OK (albeit a bummer), so don’t feel bad if you aren’t besties with your residence hall roommate or don’t even speak to them after freshman year.

Expectation No. 2: You will find your life partner in college.

Accuracy: 30 percent

This is the dream you have been replaying in your mind for years and years. One day in lecture, someone will sit down next to you, you will start talking, and the rest is history. Or maybe, one night at a darkly lit party, you will catch the eye of a person across the room. Your favorite song will play as he or she walks over and that’s it — you have found your soulmate. As most stereotypes go, however, this is not typically the case, especially at a school as academically focused as UC Berkeley. Some people only want to hook up in college, other people may be in long-distance relationships, others may not date a single person in their four years, a few will be too busy studying, and some will actually get married right after they graduate. Everyone is different, so don’t walk around campus looking for “The One.” Stay focused and involved with the things you love, and it will all work out.

Expectation No. 3: You will be broke and live off of ramen.

Accuracy: 75 percent

Unless you desperately love those 60-cent ramen packets, you do not ever have to live entirely off of dried noodles and the like. Yes, there is the stereotype that all college students are broke, and yes, it is fairly true. In today’s world, however, there are so many resources to make college life more comfortable financially, such as scholarships, financial aid, part-time jobs around and on campus and eating well on a tight budget. So if you are one of the many barely surviving off of boxed macaroni and cheese, ramen, and canned soup, check out some of these options unless you truly just love the food. Nonetheless, this stereotype lives on, and these quick-fix meals become the inevitable standard in apartments and residence halls because many students just cannot cook or do not have the time to.

Expectation No. 4: You will never sleep: Get ready for four years of all-nighters.

Accuracy: 25 percent

We know many people that pull all-nighters every week — any time they have a big project, paper or homework assignment due. These people are often what we would call procrastinators. We also know many people who have proudly never pulled an all-nighter at UC Berkeley, budgeting their time in order to finish their homework, attend their extracurriculars and sleep an adequate amount. This stereotype is entirely dependent on your priorities and your schedule. Consecutive all-nighters are not done by all or even by a majority of students.

Expectation No. 5: You will party hard on the weekends and love every minute of it.

Accuracy: 70 percent

College is the hotspot of parties. From fraternities to co-ops to apartments to clubs, you can always find a party if you want to. You are away from the knowing eyes of your parent or guardian, the adults who watched you grow up, your high school persona and any long-lasting judgments. You are free to do what you want. For many people, that includes partying it up on the weekends, rendering this stereotype very true. A large subset of people, however, is entirely uninterested in partying and breaks free from this college mold.

Stereotype No. 6: Everyone will have infinite school spirit.

Accuracy: 50 percent

The stereotype of extreme school spirit and unending love for your university is about as subjective as anything. There are people who go to the big games, tailgate and don UC Berkeley gear like it is going out of style, and there are those who never do or will. Nevertheless, there is an undeniable — yet sometimes hidden — school pride inherent in every student because we all voluntarily chose to attend UC Berkeley for a reason. Alumni are even more spirited than current students because they attended, completed, conquered and succeeded at the No. 1 public university in the world! (We just had to remind everyone of that fact.)

Stereotype No. 7: This is one of the only times in your life you will be free and without commitments.

Accuracy: 0 percent

Here at UC Berkeley, we know that this is not the case at all. From papers and midterms to lectures and discussions, from clubs and sororities to internships and part-time jobs, most UC Berkeley students always have something to do. The chaos of college is something to both dread and appreciate. Learning how to juggle these commitments, however, teaches a sense of independence to UC Berkeley students. It keeps us moving, learning and experiencing. 

Stereotype No. 8: These will be the best four years of your life.

Accuracy: 95 percent

It is a universal statement that college is destined to be the best four years of your life. You are devoting four years to yourself — to finding a major YOU love, to pursuing a career YOU would enjoy, to having fun with YOUR friends, to exploring YOUR new city, to finding YOUR interests and to discovering who YOU want to be. It is all about you, and that is why so many people love, and eventually miss, this period in their lives. The doors are so wide open, and everything is seen through new eyes. So enjoy these four years because they will be over before you know it — or so we have heard. 

As all stereotypes go, they are spot on for some and, simultaneously, entirely wrong for others. Tell us about your experiences in the comments below!

Make sure to like The Daily Californian on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more insight into life here at UC Berkeley.