College Life Versus Real Life: Some Perspective

College. The best four years of your life. I can agree with that. But it is just that, four years (maybe five if you want to extend the college bubble.) After that, there will come a time where you are no longer an undergrad, masters candidate or PHD student and you will spend a lot longer than four years in the real world (even if you try to be a forever student). So being an “adult” (or trying to most of the time at least) for the past two years with a real life job and salary and responsibilities, I’ve learned that college is a lot different than reality. Here are some of those differences:

Living Situation

College = You get to live in a dorm with lots of neighbors who are peers or an apartment with your friends. You can walk outside in your PJs or down the hall in a robe and it is totally acceptable. And most likely your parents pay your housing bill (rent in real life) and you don’t have to worry about your roommate missing their portion or even paying for electric or water if you live on campus. There is always someone to socialize with, bitch about classes with or even do your laundry alongside.

Real Life = You are surrounded by a wide range of people: old people, creepy neighbors, and families with screaming babies. You will be judged if you strut around in a bathrobe. Let’s not forget about paying rent along with bills for internet, water, electric, maybe even garbage and other real life expenses. If your roommate can’t pay their portion…you’re in trouble or out a month’s rent in the form of an IOU. If you live at home (like me), you re-inherit your family as roommates. Enough said.

Food

College = There is a buffet-style cafeteria and probably a food court with places like Chick-fil-a, Moe’s and Einstein’s that are “free,” pre-paid for by ahem, your parents (most likely) and a student ID/swipe card with dining points that you can buy whatever you want to eat, whenever you want to eat it. Time to clean up? Nah, stick your dishes on a conveyor belt and poof. You also never have to eat alone – there is always someone to sit with and the bigger the table the better.

Real life= You have to shop and wait for it…pay for your own food. This means you may have to learn to cook a thing or two if you want to survive and you may become one with your microwave. Yeah, there’s fast food and eating out but doing that for every meal will cause your wallet to shrink and your waist to expand.  Eating solo may happen more often than not unless you want to sit with a bunch of randos at the mall food court and pretend you are back in the school dining hall. I would advise against that.

Parties

College = Frat parties with themes such as Euro trash, 80’s, CEOs and Corporate Hoes and ABC parties just to name a few along with a slew of  date functions, formals and the ever unifying dorm room or apartment party in honor of Sunday Funday or an unexpected snow day. There is no drink minimum or cover charge and cheap beer, boxed wine and liquor is bountiful (as are the hangovers and bad decisions.)

Real Life= Now there’s networking events with one free drink and passed apps, fundraising galas that cost a fortune to go to and numerous cocktail parties and auctions (most of which you can’ even afford to attend.) Stick to two beers or glasses of wine max (even if there is the ever tempting open bar.) People will judge you, especially when you are the rookie business person in the crowd. You probably shouldn’t talk about your junior year at the KA Euro Trash party either. Never good conversation piece with a CEO. Happy hour after work is the happiest hour of the day. You come to love drinks specials on fancy cocktails with top-shelf liquor and craft beer and enjoy half-priced apps for the working gal or guy.

Books

College = You read just enough to get the ‘jist’ and figured out what you could skip over and still write a paper worthy of a B or passing test grade. It is a painful process and ain’t nobody got time for that.

Real World= You join a book club and truly enjoy selecting, reading and discussing novels over food and wine (maybe reading Aristotle would have been a bit more tolerable with some noms.) You even have a Facebook group to discuss books and select a food theme for the next meeting. Reading books switches from a required, boring task to an enjoyable one. And you also may end up with an account on GoodReads. Totally okay.

Going to “Work”

College: Bad hangover, doing “nothing” in class, forgot to study? You could just skip. You wouldn’t get kicked out of the school or even the class and probably wouldn’t even fail. No one is making you go. Granted you could have missed out on the most insightful art history class ever, but life will go on and you will still graduate and land an awesome job.

Real Life: Taking a Ferris Bueller Day off is really not an option when you have a real job. You can’t just not be there just because. You are getting paid to be there and be productive and you are always replaceable.

And here’s a few more…what would you add to the list?

Sweatpants

College: Pretty much acceptable all the time.

Real Life: Only in your house. Or out running errands while you hope you don’t run into your high school crush or enemy.

Working Out

College: You make friend dates to go to the gym to workout, socialize and flirt.

Real Life: You don’t have time to get your fitness on. Or it is a major struggle bus to get there. Oh and you have to pay for a membership. Damn, so many roadblocks.

Remembering People’s Names

College: If you forget someone’s name, you could blame it on too many drinks at a party to make light of an awk sitch. Or stalk them from pictures that end up posted on Facebook the next day.

Real Life: Firm handshake, eye-contact, business card exchange and add a new connection on LinkedIn to remember who you met that may lead to a new job one day. Remembering names is key (to a potential job opp.)

Alexandra Bimonte

Alex is twenty-four years young and still lives at home with the fam in South FL. She graduated in 2012 from Furman University (yes, she has a shirt with the initials F.U. that makes her feel a little badass) where she graduated Cum Laude in Communication Studies and played DI softball. She still wants to relive her college days of competition and now plays on a co-ed slowpitch team where she is the youngest player. When she’s not working on social media for clients (yes she gets paid to hangout on Facebook and tweet) you can find her at the gym, shopping on her iPad, playing with Maxi or binge watching Mad Men and Walking Dead or the Cooking Channel and attempting new recipes. Key word attempting. She would pick Dunkin Donuts’ coffee over Starbucks and is always early to everything by at least ten minutes. Follow her on Twitter @bmoney2790.

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