Unpopular Opinion: I Hate College

Photo credit: Jaycie Hricak

Photo credit: Jaycie Hricak

By Jaycie Hricak

Growing up, I thought college was going to be the best time of my life. I heard the phrase “college is the best four years” countless times prior to actually stepping foot on Temple’s campus. Like everyone, I was excited! I wanted to branch out, meet new people, join clubs, and take on all the opportunities I knew Philadelphia had waiting for me.

Throughout the past few months, I’ve seen countless 2019 grads posting that phrase on social media, and I can’t help but disagree. To be fair, I still have one year of undergrad left, but I can honestly say college has not been the best time of my life. In fact, I hate college. I so desperately hope these years are not my life’s defining moments. 

I’m a rising senior studying political science and criminal justice. Plus, I’m in an accelerated master’s program (4+1) in public policy. To say my plate is full is an understatement. From my first semester onward I realized that college isn’t about parties and brunch. 

I needed to work part-time to afford to live and learn in Philly. I’ve worked at a handful of places throughout my college career; I currently work between 30 and 40 hours a week. Financial anxieties play one of the largest roles in my anti-college sentiment. My parents are hard-working, middle-class people—they make just enough money to be considered middle class—and for me, that means I don’t get financial aid. 

On the flip side, I am one of three children. My parents can’t help me financially, as much as they wish they could. Unfortunately, I wasn’t informed about taking the community college path (like a majority of students) and chose Temple for its relatively low tuition. I work long shifts and rack up dozens of hours a week to pay various bills outright, rather than depending on loans. In the long run, I know this choice will benefit me since I’m already paying interest… but at the same time, it’s one of the biggest reasons I detest college. 

Working almost full-time hours while balancing essentially three majors sucked the fun (and energy!) out of college. Most of my free time throughout the semester is dedicated to homework and sleeping, both key points of the greater picture, but not the whole point. People go to college to get a one-of-a-kind education; you walk away with a degree and a potential beginning. The social interaction that’s behind the scenes of pursuing a degree doesn’t provide students with a diploma—it changes you. Participating in social activities impacts one’s mental health and well-being, and that is something I’ve missed out on.

A lack of a solid friend group causes a ton of personal issues. Since sophomore year, when I upped my 20-hour work weeks to 30+ hours, keeping up with friends’ plans proved to be difficult. My schedule or exhaustion made me miss out. Life moved on (and left me behind) and I found myself to be incredibly lonely in a city of millions. During this time, I gravitated towards my work colleagues, like a boat speeding toward the only light in the distance. However, transitioning from many friends to just a few was a hard trip to make. Once a high school social butterfly, now a lone wolf. No college movies or friendly advice prepared me for this.

Photo credit: Jaycie Hricak

Photo credit: Jaycie Hricak

Outside of my financial and social struggles, college itself is incredibly difficult. I knew of the hardships students face, but I didn’t realize just how difficult it really was. College students tend to normalize all the crying, “mental breakdowns,” and overall distress. We consider it to be a part of the college experience and shrug it off or stress-nap. This is adds to the list of reasons as to why I hate college. We pay large sums of money to stress ourselves out to the point that many of us have developed mental health issues, like anxiety and depression. I hate that college has burnt out so many great minds, including my loved ones.

As a kid, I never thought of a future where I would accrue almost six figures in debt. Or one where I would cry constantly over my workload. During the supposed best time of my life? It’ll never happen.

I’m so lucky to attend Temple and I am grateful for the friends that I see when our schedules finally align. I just don’t think this time is it. My “peak” won’t be four years stress and confusion. Rather, I want it to be when I’m comfortable—in my own terms—and surrounded by the people I love. College hasn’t been the best time of my life and honestly, I don’t think it was supposed to be. It’s assumed to be a major role in one’s human evolution. In an odd way, I believe all the motions of hating college was necessary for me to feel so secure about my closest friends, my future, and my sense of self. Hating college is my own personal evolution. 

And for those who might feel the same: the college experience isn’t identical for those enrolled. We’re jaded by movies, social media, and older generations who romanticize it. It’s okay to not enjoy your time at school—but that doesn’t mean college isn’t valuable. Life isn’t positive 24/7, and any struggles or difficulties help mold you into the person you’ll be for the rest of time. Although working as much as I do isn’t ideal, my story filled me with empathy and into a better person.

I love the person this institution I hate so much has shaped me into.