Reality Check: Your college experience won’t be like the movies

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For many incoming freshmen, the expectations of college life have been directly influenced by television shows and movies. I still remember my first week at ASU, expecting the first party I attended to resemble a music video. It did not.

By now, most of us realized television and movies paint very unrealistic portraits of life experiences. You can’t chase a girl through an airport, as that would result in the TSA ending you, the ugly duckling rarely becomes popular by the time prom swings around, and the likelihood of the nerd scoring a date with the sexy coed is slim to none. (Sorry, not sorry.)

We want to make sure you’ve been able to distinguish fact from fiction at the beginning of your college career. With the semester only a week away, we’ve compiled the realities of some of the most widely-spread false expectations so you’re not slapped in the face with a reality check the first week.

The Parties

Expectations: The first thing high school grads think about when undergrad parties come to mind are the “Spring Breakers”-like music video scenarios plaguing many a college-themed film. If movies like this summer’s “Neighbors” are any indication, college parties come replete with professional DJs, light shows and wet T-shirt contests. Also, everyone has the alcohol tolerance level of an alcoholic.

Reality: While you certainly might imbibe enough alcohol that your perception of the night will totally result in some shaky-cam realness, most of your college party nights will result in hanging out in a less than well-ventilated room drinking room-temperature Natty Light. Most college parties do not expect attendance numbers in the hundreds. And passing out halfway through the night in a puddle of vomit is a harsh reality for newbs, so drink responsibly.

The Dorms

Expectations: College movies have the tendency to make college dorms seem like a living and breathing IKEA catalogue. Furniture and decorations are tailor-made to fit the characters’ personalities and there’s seemingly enough space for large gatherings, like parties and sleepovers.

Reality: Think Harry Potter’s staircase cupboard. The last thing an ASU student will describe their dorm room as is spacious. You can generally fit one guest in, plus your roommate if you’re lucky, before you start to feel claustrophobic.

The Conversations

Expectations: If you take college-themed movies seriously, you’d expect most the majority of attendees read Nietzsche, quote Socrates and enjoy long existential talks about the meaning of life. There’s usually a character in these movies that’s involved in some sort of environmental and social cause, which the rest of the characters get roped into and passionate about as well.

Reality: Your conversations revolve around funny YouTube videos and exaggerations about the rager you attended the weekend before. You’ll also find yourself overhearing talks full of Urban Dictionary-inspired vocabulary (ratchet and YOLO dominated the last year). People quoting Nietzsche are met with unimpressed stares.

The Roommate

Expectations: In movieland, roommates can be either one of two things: your new best friend or your worst enemy. The stereotypical college movie or TV show hosts scenarios where college roommates find their platonic soul mate through the school’s random sorting system. Some movies go the opposite route, like 2011’s aptly-titled “The Roommate,” and show audiences that you’ll sometimes get a roommate from hell that’s trying to ruin your life. (Or like, kill it.)

Reality: The reality is that roommate situations are not that dramatic. Sure, you might think your roommate is pleasant and enjoy vegging out together once in a while. And yes, there will be some roommates you cannot stand, but that will mostly be because of their cleaning/living habits and not because they’re trying to murder you. Roommates are like coworkers—they come and go. And you’ll keep in touch with some of them.

The Classes

Expectations: Somehow, college students on-screen are able to advance through their education without actually attending many classes or doing any of their work. College-themed movies focus on the “life events” that happen throughout undergrad studies, like the parties, the hook ups and the adventures. College is generally a stress-free experience.

Reality: We’ll be real—you’ll be able to fit in those “life events.” Although the truth is that you will be doing so amidst all-nighters at Hayden Library, panic attacks in your dorm room as you pore over pages of notes and classes that require two weekly lectures, a lab and a recitation.

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