The Expectation vs. Reality of College In The '90s

Think back, fellow '90s kids, to the exciting precipice of graduating high school. You had your whole life before you, and the first step in that exciting new adventure was college. Only, what '90s kids thought college would be like and what college in the '90s was actually like were ... different. Sure, you still made some of the best friends you'll ever have and you did (hopefully) walk across that stage when all was said and done to accept your college diploma. But four years is a long time, and there was lots of room for your grand dreams of college to differ from the reality.

It goes without saying that it's totally cool if you didn't go to college, too. Most '90s kids, even if college just wasn't in the cards, had some sort of college-like experience — whether that meant sharing a flat with several roommates for a few years after high school while you figured out your next move, or even going into the military or Peace Corps. In which case, I salute thee, since I spent my undergrad years doing things that were far less altruistic. Like binging on slurpees from the 7-Eleven just off of campus or trashing my dorm during the weekly Friends watching fest my hallmates and I had.

No, the visions of grandeur I had for my college years weren't precisely accurate. But I still had a hella (shout-out to my '90s peeps) good time, even if the following expectations didn't line up with the reality.

1. Sleeping In

Expectation: Why would you ever get up early? It's not like your mom would be there dragging your grown-ass out of bed every morning. You'd sleep until noon, catch an episode of Ricki Lake, then head to class sometime in the late afternoon.

Reality: You waited until the last minute to register, so you got stuck with early morning classes every day of the week.

2. Your Wardrobe

Expectation: Finally, you could wear whatever you wanted! You'd stroll into class every single day looking super cute in your tattoo choker, midriff-baring tops, and favorite wedges.

Reality: You were lucky if you ever made it to class in anything other than your PJs. Your idea of dressing up for a lecture hall was a velour tracksuit.

3. The Cliques

Expectation: Cliques? In college? Pshhh. Everyone knows there's no such thing as cliques in college.

Reality: Only, j/k! There totally are cliques in college. In the '00s, this sometimes looked like a scene straight out of Never Been Kissed. The strange but good news is that there were so many cliques in college that it was easier to find your people, Mathletes or otherwise.

4. The Food

Expectation: If we're really being honest, you didn't give much thought to this at all. Although you were pretty sure your mom mentioned something about a meal plan.

Reality: You lived off of Top Ramen and Gushers, naturally. That's what any self-respecting '90s kid would have done in your shoes, right?

5. The Teachers

Expectation: They would either be extremely boring ("Bueller ... Bueller ... Bueller") or radically transformative, a la Professor Maurice Phipps in Higher Learning.

Reality: Um, they were pretty darn normal. You learned some stuff from them, so that's good.

6. Your Roommate

Expectation: As long as she didn't Single White Female you, you were going to be BFFs and eventually become the godparents to each other's kids and all that good stuff.

Reality: Hey, sometimes the expectation did match the reality in this case. Or, if you're anything like me, you ended up with a roommate who put a padlock on her mini-fridge and got hot and heavy with her boyfriend while you were trying to study.

7. The Frat Brothers and Sorority Sisters

Expectation: They would be everywhere, and you would somehow be able to spot them in a crowd immediately. They would constantly impossibly fun themed parties (like Elle Woods' "casino night").

Reality: Sure, there were sororities and frats. And you may have even joined one! But you quickly learned that sorority sisters and frat brothers put their PJs on for class one leg at a time, just like you — you probably never even knew you were talking to someone in the Greek system half the time.

8. Cash Flow

Expectation: Hey, you worked part-time in high school at the local record store ... in a desperate bid to model your life after Empire Records , no doubt — you'd have spending money to spare.

Reality: Your paltry savings didn't last you a week. When you called home to ask your parents to wire you some cash, they suggested you get a work-study job. Damn the man! (Save the Empire?)

9. The Shenanigans

Expectation: Of course there would be shenanigans. You and your friends would go on some life-changing road trip to win back someone's heart. Or you would have to break into the dean's office so you could steal your student file. If '90s movies taught you anything about college, it was that there were always shenanigans.

Reality: That one time you got caught making out with your residence hall adviser seems like pretty small potatoes compared to the illicit activities you thought college would entail.

10. Parties!

Expectation: If you looked up "party" in the dictionary, it would just say "college" underneath. One great big four-year-long raver.

Reality: There were parties, all right. But college was not like the extended cut of National Lampoon's Van Wilder.

11. The Sex

Expectation: Unless you had a pre-determined pact with yourself to stay celibate, college was like the holy grail of horniness — if you wanted to, you could hook up with your cute chem lab partner and the guy who let you cut in line at the cafeteria. No one was gonna interfere with all the hot sex you'd be having. You knew. You watched Threesome, like, five times.

Reality: College sex could be good; don't get me wrong. However, logistics were still tricky if you lived in a dorm. That ol' sock on the doorknob trick wouldn't work forever, which you learned the hard way.

Images: 20th Century Fox; Giphy (11)