A Freshman’s Observations on College

Revised and Updated with the Wisdom of Attending for Five Years…

University of Oregon by Jeff Ozvold. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

While cleaning my room, I stumbled across a list of observations I made about college way back in my freshman year. Needless to say, not all of it applies to every college, or every faculty or program, but it was entertaining. So I have posted it, with any updates I made in red:  

I’ve graduated from blackboards to a world of overhead projectors, PowerPoints and videos. Which don’t work half the time. Then the prof has to call the tech guys, who don’t show up till half an hours later, while we all fiddle in our seats and marvel at the way technology has simplified our world.

You are suddenly surrounded by people who care about good grades. On the other hand, there are enough people that make you wonder how did they ever get in nursing?!?

This applied to when I was in nursing, of course. Though I truly hope some of the people I knew never graduated that nursing program…

No class takes as much time and effort as the prof would like you to believe it does on the first day.

I still don’t understand why nursing profs liked to scare us so much… though the classes took up enough time and effort as it was.

They tell you to buy fancy-spancy calculators for Math 30, but when in college they tell you you need a SIMPLE calculator that’s not programmable. Because our profs aren’t technologically advanced enough to wipe the memory…

I did finally get to dust off my fancy TI83 for Statistics class this year.

You will be reminded again why English is useless.

And reminded again, and again…. and I say this as someone who likes writing.

Professor-jokes are not any more funny than teacher jokes.

They will decide to implement a completely new class for your year because of what a few students said the year before. It will be the stupidest class ever, so they’ll decide to take it out again for the year after you. Lucky you.

There will always be someone who makes flashcards for everything.

I still think making flashcards is a waste of time… more time making them than studying.

Exam anxiety is contagious.

Significant digits go out the window when calculating drug amounts.

You will not be a loner all year, like you thought you would on your first day.

Though it’s entirely possible some of the friend you made in first year you’ll never see again.

If your class project requires you to find complete strangers and teach them how to hand-wash, you will somehow end up at the restaurant your partner works at, teaching her brother and her best friend.

The nursing faculty will swear to you that the program you’re learning (Context-Based Learning) is best program for learning since sliced bread. You wonder why, if that’s so, they’re putting a completely different program next year?

Never start a program in a transition year, unless you like being a guinea pig.

Just because you’re in college, doesn’t mean everything will be more organized. Your classrooms WILL be switched every week, and always to a room on the other side of the campus, ensuring half the class gets lost on the way.

Sadly, university is even less organized.

Evaluations of your performance are completely subjective, with most of one group getting “A”s because they have an easy prof, while the instructor in another group will insist no one in first year nursing deserves an “A.”

This might only apply to nursing, but actually was true.

Having a nit-picker for your first instructor has some benefits – at least you’ll learn how to cite using APA. And never, ever forget…

When you get a prof who actually knows her stuff and doesn’t use PowerPoint, you will be so thankful that you’ll tell everyone she’s the best prof in the world. This realization is only heightened when she is absent and the substitute spends an hour and a half showing you pictures out of your textbook.

If you got a nice new shelf in the summer to put all your junk on, it will be filled up with books by the end of the year and you STILL won’t have a place to put your junk.

Choir is suddenly a viable recreational option because you miss your highschool band class. Your new yearly music trip now consists of going to sing in Neerlandia.

People will complain the college’s Student’s Association does nothing, and you will be amazed because it is a thousand times more active than your Student Council was in high school.

There is no way to avoid coffee addiction.

Yet it’s still all too easy to sleep in class.

You will learn how to procrastinate like never before – making this list, for example.

Oh yes, I’ve come a loooooooooong way… (now if I could just get that novel done)


Filed under Randoms & My Life

24 responses to “A Freshman’s Observations on College

  1. I may be a coffee addiction but I’m always sleepy.
    It’s a strange thing.
    As for me, an old memories became good episode..


  2. Aunty Jeannette

    Love this posting! Fun and interesting to look back! Wish I had jotted down my first impressions of university.


  3. Harma Mae…I do have to chuckle as I see that college hasn’t changed all that much since I was there. Of course, there are many more advances now than ever before with technology…but we had the same old problems with the technology then as we do today. Thank you for the laughter and the reminders of what it looks like as a freshman! You have a great sense of humor!


  4. wendythecactus

    tee hee. i just read this. can definitely appreciate some of those things now that i am leaving them behind as a new grad =D WHOO HAH.


  5. Alexia

    Everytime I see a movie or a tv show that takes place in an american college or high school I feel like this can’t be realistic… You really do have choirs, and all those activities ? And fraternities ? I know I must sound really stupid right now but I’ve always wondered what part is true about what the medias show us ? How much realistic can a tv show like Glee really be (or any other show or movie for that matter – Glee just seems so fake to me but maybe it really isn’t) ? Is the peer pressure this important ?


    • I haven’t watched Glee so I can’t compare… But we do have choirs, fraternities, and all kinds of activities going on. Not everyone does everything, and there’s so much going on that you usually don’t know everything that happens. So it’s not really exactly like the media shows us – fraternities don’t rule the school, and most people don’t care about them. Peer pressure isn’t as big in college because there’s so many people, you can just go hang out with someone else and never the see the first people again. Or that’s what I’ve found.


      • Alexia

        Maybe that’s how they should show your high schools cause I swear in the movies it just seems so crazy ! There’s the oath of allegiance that I’m also curious about, do they really make kids learn it in school ? I can’t even remember my national anthem… I’m sorry to ask you so many questions ! You’re welcome to ask me if french clichés are accurate if you feel like it !

        Glee is my guilty pleasure – I watch it thinking “how stupid was that” but I just can’t stop watching !


  6. Alexia: I think the Oath of Allegiance is American – we don’t say it in Canada, that’s for sure. Most Canadians know the first verse of their anthem, but there’s lots more verses no one knows.
    Peer pressure is a bigger deal in high school than in college. It wasn’t bad at the school I went to though.
    How does the school system work in France? Is it high school, then university, or does it work differently there? You just email me the answer instead of making a comment, if you want. (Most of what I know of France has to do with the French Revolution, and not much else…)


  7. Alexia

    I’m afraid I have no idea how to email you the answer^^
    I’m sorry, I thought maybe it was an american – as in the continent, not the country – thing. My national anthem is just too depressing. It’s all about tainted blood and raising a bloody banner, I’m sure Voldemort would love it.
    Peer pressure exists here too but it’s not really a big deal. I mean, nothing is done about it, it’s not considered a big deal.
    French school system is a bit messy. First when in junior high you get to decide if you want to continue a regular cursus in high school or if you want to take what’s called a CAP, it’s a two-year class that gives you qualification to work in some areas like bakery or florist, or some other manual work. There’s also a BEP, two years too, but it takes place in high school (CAP are gerenally in formation centers) and you have classes related to the area you choose and you get to do more interships so you’re more prepared for professional life.
    Also university is not a huge deal. If you go, that’s good but it really depends on what you want to do for living, it’s not something you ought to do. And universities here are mostly publics so it’s not expensive at all.
    (French Revolution ? Well, it sure is a bit different now… Are you interested in history ?)


    • I am interested in history! It’s what I’m doing in university. 🙂
      I know France is quite different know, but I never really learned how it changed from the time of the French Revolution to how it is today.
      The French school system sounds as complicated as the Dutch school system – I have relatives who live in Holland so I know a bit about it. Here everybody does the same thing for 12 years (grades 1-12, which includes elementary school, junior high school, and high school), and then you decide whether to go to university or do something else. Most people encourage you to go to university though.


  8. Alexia

    Really ? That’s so weird, that’s what I did too ! But here it just takes three years, unless you want to get a master.
    I know, our system is complicated but you know it’s great for people who aren’t that good in school. I know, but I think the 6th grade is the only one we have in common, cause after that you go to 7th grade and we go to 5ème, then 4ème, 3ème, 2nd, 1ère et terminale. And elementary school is completely different the 1st grade is CP, and then CE1, CE2, CM1, CM2. We like to keep it simple^^”

    Well, after the Revolution we switched to an Empire, with Napoleon, I don’t know but I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of him. And when Napoleon exiled (and was possibly poisoned) came the July Monarchy, who was in place from 1830 until 1848, when the people raised to abolish the monarchy (yup, again) and that’s when was created the 2nd Republique (the first one didn’t last, it happened between Revolution and Napoleon but we don’t really learn about it cause it’s not exactly important). The first President of France ever was actually Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, nephew of Napoléon I.

    December 2nd 1851 Louis-Napoléon organised a coup d’état and created the 2nd Empire. He called himself Napoléon III (Naopélon II would have been Napoléon’s son) and for a long time his regime was criticized but now it seems like public opinion aknowlegded that he really helped the country to prosper. He modernized the economy and well he rebuilt Paris. Before him Paris was apparently disgusting, made of small medieval streets, but the Paris that you see today was mostly designed by Haussmann. The architecture of the buildings on the parisian boulevards is called haussmanian. But his empire was authoritarian, and lost the Alsace-Lorraine to the germans in 1870 and was forced to exile himself in London.

    The 3rd Republic was born. So you see it took a while after the Revolution to really have democracy in this country. And of course 1914-1918 (where we got Alsace-Lorraine back – a lot of people there speak both languages to this day), and 1939, and the Vichy Regime, people who’d sell out their jewish neighbors in the hope to get their possessions, resistance, De Gaulle, D-Day, “Paris est libéré”… I think it’s safe to say you studied the world wars so there’s no need to make this a bigger comment than it already is. Of course I shortened it, but it was basically the evolution of the country. The 4th Republic was created after the war, but it didn’t go so well so De Gaulle instaured the 5th Republic, and the ninth President of the 5th Republic is Nicolas Sarkozy, our actual president who can barely read. Vive la République et vive la France, as De Gaulle would put it…


  9. Wow, things did get complex after the Revolution! Yes, I do know about Napoleon, and the World Wars. And I think I did learn something about Alsace-Lorraine too. Neat that you did history! It’s so interesting.
    Sarkozy can barely read? I didn’t know that. Awkward for a president.
    When I was in Paris I did learn that the boulevards were put in later. Smart of Napoleon III.
    Canada’s just had Prime Ministers, and the same Constitution, since the day that it was founded. But not many countries can say people started moving there in the first place because the land happened to have lots of beaver living there (and after that they discovered it was good for wheat and oil, and that was the start of that…)


  10. Alexia

    Yes, but French history is kind of a mess, I guess that’s why I like it so much.
    Well, now he reads, but when he was elected he practically never read. I think he realized that it was important for a President to know his classics cause last time I’ve heard of it he was reading Steinbeck.
    It’s less complicated ^^ That’s true! Never heard that. How much was the Canada involve in the world wars ? It’s rarely mentioned here.
    Are there a lot of clichés going around about canadians ? And if there are does that bother you ?


    • There’s lots of cliches – that we say “eh” all the time (I don’t really notice it, but maybe we do), that we wear toques (warm winter hats) all the time, that we love hockey (most of us do), and that we’re polite. Canadians don’t usually mind our stereotypes. We like to make fun of them… but if Americans think that’s all we actually are (and some Americans do), we get annoyed. There’s more to us than just hockey! There was a very funny television show here once, making fun of American ideas of what Canada is like.
      Also, if anyone thinks we’re the same as Americans, we get annoyed.
      That’s funny, about Sarkozy. Here in Canada there was a group who thought our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, didn’t appreciate the arts enough – so they sent him a different classic novel every month. I don’t think he read any of them though.


  11. Alexia

    Canadians do have the polite reputation here. Those are still nice clichés though. We have the opposite reputation, we’re supposed to be impolite and rude. And if you have toques, we have berets, what’s with the hats ?
    That was a good idea. I find an elite who doesn’t read very disturbing. And you can really tell by reading politicians’ books that some of them should really open one once in a while.


    • Yeah, most stereotypes about Canada aren’t too bad. The worst it gets is thinking we’re slightly stupid lumberjacks, or something, but it could be much worse. French do have the stereotype of being rude, but sometimes tourists don’t understand French culture that well, I think. The French also have a lot of good stereotypes… good art, good food, good wine, beautiful cities… hopefully some of that is true. 🙂
      I love berets. People probably just stereotype the hats because it makes it easier to tell us apart (He’s wearing a beret, he must be French!)
      Reading is a good way to learn about all sorts of opinions, especially those that don’t agree with yours. Probably a good way for politicians to learn about the people they represent.


  12. Alexia

    I guess parisians can be rude to tourists, but parisians don’t represent all the french and people from the North have a reputation to be very welcoming. The wine is very important, but I don’t drink it so I can’t really tell. The food is great. But if you really want great food it’s Italy you’ve got to go to ! It’s just amazing.


    • I hope to go to Italy someday!
      I’d imagine some Parisians get sick of tourists running all over the place, not a surprise some of them are rude. Yeah, one city definitely doesn’t represent a whole country. Otherwise we’d be Toronto (blah). Or maybe Vancouver or Montreal.


  13. Alexia

    You should, it’s an amazing country.
    Most Parisians want to throw the tourist’ cameras in their face, but it just gets so crowded during the touristic season… I don’t care, I never stay in Paris during the summer, but I get it. And if you get to know them Parisians aren’t that bad.
    Yup, although I’m not gonna lie those are probably the cities I’d go first if I ever went to Canada^^”


    • Vancouver is pretty nice, and I’d like to see Montreal someday. I’ve been to Toronto and wasn’t too impressed, but I guess there’s some things to see there (most of Canada just resents it when Toronto thinks it is the center of the universe, and the rest of the country doesn’t count).
      There’s so many places around the world I want to see. Hopefully someday!


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