Split blue image, woman with tablet, man at laptop, words Ask the Experts

How Does Real Life in College Differ From the Movies?

It's easy to think your college experience is going to be just like what you see in the movies, but the reality is pretty different. Here's what to expect.

Silhouette of person sitting at desk with laptopJim Terhune
VP of Student Affairs
Swarthmore College 
I guess to a certain degree, the answer depends on what movies you’re talking about. College life isn’t one wild party frequented exclusively by movies stars who want to be your best friend. And, though I’m surely biased on this point, faculty and deans are not one-dimensional villains driven by an uncontrollable desire to make students’ lives miserable. On the contrary, we’re teachers who want you to succeed and get the most out of your college experience. By and large, real college life is a lot more ordinary and complex than the way college life is portrayed in the movies. By ordinary, I mean there’s no magical or mystical transformation that occurs when you step onto a college campus as a student. At first, there’s a lot about being at college that’s new and different, particularly if being at college includes living on your own for the first time. The academic expectations are different. The relationships with faculty are different. And figuring out how to balance life, work, family, and friends takes some time. But you’ll work it out, and very quickly your life at college will start to feel very normal and natural.

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