Oh, college. The day I collected my diploma and left my alma mater behind, I was so miserable that I felt physically ill. Not only was I crushed to be saying goodbye to friends who felt like family and a place that had become home, I was terrified. Graduating from college was exponentially more frightening than graduating from high school, because the buffer between me and the real world was officially gone. With all that uncertainty ahead of me, I couldn’t imagine ever reaching a point where I would no longer miss what I had left.
Yet life goes on. Change happens and you learn to adapt. You take on new challenges, and through them, gain new perspective. When I look back on college now, I am grateful for the experience and how it shaped who I’ve become. Nonetheless, there are parts of college life that you couldn’t pay me to revert back to — as much as that would shock my 21-year-old self. It turns out that the real world has its perks, too, and just as I once cringed at the idea of returning to high school, I wouldn’t jump at the chance to spend four more years in college.
Sometimes absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. Here are 13 parts of college better left behind.
1. Being Broke
Let’s face it: Student loans aren’t fun to contend with, but a full-time paycheck beats paying tuition. Plus, you can splurge on items you actually want rather than $100+ textbooks.
Once you know how glorious it is to stay on a regular sleep schedule, you’ll cringe at the idea of having to stay awake for more than 24 hours for any reason. Energy drinks and loud music at 4 a.m. just to keep your eyes open? Thanks, but no thanks.
3. Regular Hangovers
Within a couple of years of graduation, you start to appreciate how much more you can get done on weekends when you don’t spend all of Sunday in bed or on the couch nauseous and feeling sorry for yourself. Your liver loves it, too.
4. Strange Eating Habits
I’m pretty sure the concept of “fourth meal” was invented just for college students. Too much drinking and staying up late doesn’t make for healthy food choices. On the other hand, rediscovering the food pyramid and saying goodbye to greasy late-night meals and stress snacks feels great.
5. Dining Halls
No one has ever told me that they miss dining-hall food. Even on the days you wish you didn’t have to feed yourself, the grass (and salad) is greener on the post-grad side.
Working full-time is exhausting, but there’s definitely something to be said for being done at the end of the day. Weekends seem so much longer when there aren’t any assignments, projects, or upcoming exams hanging over your head.
7. Midterms and Finals
Exams, blah. A part of me found it satisfying to test my knowledge, but a much larger part detested the stress and studying leading up to them.
8. Frequent Awkward Run-Ins
In a college community, it can be frustratingly difficult to avoid people you’d rather not see. The girl whose car you scratched, the guy you drunkenly cried to, and anyone you’ve committed dormcest with will inevitably pop up at the most inconvenient times. That can still happen after college, but it becomes less common — mercifully so.
9. The Drama
People who thrive on drama will always find it, but for most, it’s easier to avoid in the real world. Anyone who has watched Girls probably doubts this, but I promise it’s true.
10. Cramped Living Quarters
Housing tends to get nicer after graduation, and it’s a beautiful thing to have your own room.
11. Shared Bathrooms
Showering without flip-flops or finding that someone has used up your new body wash is fantastic. You’ll never want to go back.
12. Frat Parties
When I think of frat parties, I shudder at the memory of sticky spilled beer and other people’s sweat. That’s not to say that I didn't enjoy them at one time, but there are 1,001 things I’d rather do with my Friday nights now, including go to bed at 10 p.m.
13. The Campus Health Clinic
Campus health care is important, of course, but if you’ve ever gone to the university clinic with the flu and been offered a pregnancy test, you’ll find post-college medical care a step up.
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