Overrated College Experiences: College clichés that don’t live up to the hype


So you’ve seen all the movies and TV shows and know what to expect from college—frolicking on the lawn, jell-o wrestling, intellectual stimulation. But there’s more to college than what you see in the glossy catalogues and on Greek every week. Here are a few college clichés and overrated college experiences that don’t always deliver.

Toga, Toga, Toga!

First college clichés: Animal House, Old School, Van Wilder…Hollywood can’t get enough of the frat scene. Although the wild toga party is tried and true, and you will probably attend more than a few Animal House-themed parties in your college years, the regular weekend frat parties aren’t what the movies have made them out to be. You’ll probably run into some even funnier and more outrageous theme nights. And frat life isn’t always as exciting as it looks on TV—minimum GPA and community service requirements, what?!

Greek Life Stereotype

Life’s a Picnic

A college clichés that is basically every campus brochure features shiny photos of multicultural co-eds playing Frisbee on the lawn, professors and students sitting in the shade of a statue on a sunny day debating, and friends picnicking under a tree. While students do use campus greens for tanning, reading, and sports on nice days, college kids don’t play Frisbee nearly as much as those brochures would have you believe, and when then do, it looks remarkably less like recess time at the United Nations. And discussion groups meeting outside? Only if you have the most generous of professors.


This overrated college experiences is unfortunately, elaborate pranks also aren’t as big a part of college life as the movies would have you believe. Most students don’t have the time or energy to cover everything in a room with tinfoil, or to throw a bubble bath in the school’s fountain—and even when they do, the administration usually doesn’t look too kindly on pranksters. As funny as it is for a crazy kid to poster the campus with pictures of his sister and her cell phone number, campus police will have the last laugh. Don’t worry, though; living with hundreds of other students in the dorms generates enough wild drama to keep life interesting, from middle-of-the-night fire alarms and streakers to loud break-up fights next door.

Fight the Power!

Damn the man! Rights for [insert disenfranchised subset of your campus here]! While many college students have strong opinions about current events and are active in the community, the stereotypical and dramatic protests of our parents’ generation (think Columbia, 1968, and Kent State, 1970) are not so much a part of college culture these days. Protests are a lot more often about “raising awareness”: for example, visually demonstrating the number of civilians killed in Iraq using flags. Politically active students often prefer to take to volunteering, petitioning, or fundraising to get their point across. And the closest some campuses get to true student protest is arguing with public safety officers about why not to break up a Saturday night party or grumbling in the student paper about the administration’s latest grading policy.

After Hours

Another overrated college experiences is you’ll enjoy plenty of new freedoms in college, and not having class from 8 to 4 every day is one of the most exciting escapes from the high school grind. Wake up around noon, go to lecture, nap for the rest of the day…night class is a pretty cool idea, right? It’s all a matter of taste, but after freshman fall, the concept of night class elicits groans from most undergrads. Leaving the warm comfort of the dorm to trek across campus in the dark maybe isn’t so appealing after all.

The Meaning of Life

Long, thought-provoking talks with your roommate, debates, intellectual epiphanies—that’s all standard fare in college, right? Unfortunately, freshman year your roommate may be more of a horror story than a philosopher, and your academic life might look less like a scene from A Beautiful Mind than Dumb and Dumber. You’ll find someone to talk politics or physics with eventually—just don’t expect to discover the meaning of life freshman year, because it’ll take a while to navigate the new social scene. And as for those fascinating late-night talks? Most common when you’re supposed to be studying for that important final tomorrow…

Dorm, Sweet Dorm

Wait before you pack up your whole bedroom, fourth grade swim trophies and all, to cart off to college. Chances are, when you get to your new freshman dorm room, it will barely look anything like the carefully manicured quarters from the Bed Bath and Beyond catalogue. You’re more likely to be sharing a double the size of your closet, with bunked beds and barely enough space for your clothes plus all your course books.

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