What’s College Life Really Like?

What a question! Ultimately, everyone you ask will probably give you a different answer. Our answer? “College life is what you make of it.”

Hold up. That’s just another vague answer to a HUGE question, and not very helpful at all. Luckily for us, Zoe breaks down the college experience with precision in the video below:


It’s a home away from home.

As mentioned in the video, when you’re at college, you’re at college. Like, all the time. For some people, going to college means moving to a new city, a new state, or even a new country or continent! Yikes, right?

Well, kind of. College can be a home away from home, it just may take a little work to adjust to your new surroundings completely. Most of our college experiences begin in the dorms or residence halls, and support structures can be found almost everywhere in these places.

Don’t believe us? Your roommate can be a support system. Your RA? Support system. That one person on your floor who seems to have their life together and is really into avant-garde jazz? Support system (just don’t get too deep into discussing John Coltrane’s later works).

Take advantage of the community and community-building activities at your place of residency and, hopefully, you’ll be able to build that sense of home in no time.

It’s on your own schedule.

First and foremost, college is an academic experience. We’re all here to learn about our passions and pursue degrees in those fields. To be successful in college, you’re going to have to manage your time. Making sure that you can fit homework, studying, and life itself into your schedule is crucial to achieving academic and personal success.

Still, it can be difficult to strike that balance and find those places where you feel you truly belong. Fortunately, most college students discover something outside of the classroom that piques their interest. That something could even be, oh, those seminal works of avant-garde jazz that your got clued in on earlier.

How you choose to spend your time is completely up to you, and the combinations available to you are pretty much endless. Whatever paths you take, rest assured they will likely lead you to great things.


female student doing schoolwork in her room

It’s better than high school.

So much better. Taking the classes that you want, finding the experiences you want to partake in, setting up your schedule so that you can sleep in as late as you want? That sounds pretty awesome.

Yes, rules are still in place, but college offers you a world of freedom you probably haven’t experienced before. It’s one of the best times for you to fully (re)discover who you are.

It’s a big deal (and that’s okay)!

Finally, college is about change, for better or worse. Let’s not sugar-coat matters: You’re leaving a lot behind when you come to any university full time, and the adjustment process can be difficult. Being a student is no easy matter; the academic rigor and expectations are intense, much more so than at high school. So, we don’t want to act like being a student or transitioning to life on a college campus is no big deal—it is.

Still, you shouldn’t play down the big deal-ness of the next four years of your life. College can be an immensely rewarding experience, broadening your horizons while keying into what you truly value and hope to achieve in life. This experience is going to have a HUGE impact on your life going forward or, more accurately, it can have a seismic impact on your life, if you choose to ride out the Big One in stride.

As your new favorite saxophonist Mr. John Coltrane once said, “The real risk is not changing.” Don’t risk leaving college without experiencing some sense of personal change, no matter how big or small it may seem in the grand scheme of things.


roommates laughing and looking at computer together

Ultimately, college life is about balance and choice. The world is your oyster during your college years, but you have to actually pick out which oyster you want to eat, and you probably don’t want to eat 30 oysters at once.

Take your time, take advantage of the opportunities available, and take stock of how far you’ve come and how much further you want to go. And, if the opportunity presents itself, take a literal oyster (some say they are quite delicious).

It seems our vague answer was correct after all: College life is what you make of it. So make it diverse, make it fun, and, most importantly, make it memorable and meaningful for you.

UIUC Admissions

UIUC Admissions

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