What I Wish I Knew About College

Vanessa Passo, Staff Writer

The unsettling fear creeps in the pit of your stomach as you realize you’ve beaten the high school routine to death. After graduation from such a familiar routine and familiar faces, one cannot help but be paralyzed by both fear and excitement of what the ‘grown up’ world has to offer.

Get your toes wet before jumping into the ocean of adulthood with none-other-than college.

Red solo cups and sleepless nights are what most take away from a perceived college experience. Community college, however, may be a bit different.

No dorms, no Greek life, no extreme commitment to independence. However, the stigma of college can be quite intimidating for many students, myself included.

Whether it be a community college or university, many young adults share the same feelings about what they wish they knew before diving head-first into uncharted waters of growing up.

Incoming freshman to ECC, Chris Caputi, 20, has positive hopes for his community college experience.

“I’m expecting a pretty chill environment,” said Caputi. “Somewhere where [the school] is going to make it flexible for me to get an education while still working.”

However, Caputi, also an U.S. Army Military Police Officer, has some concerns about the next step in his life.

“I know a community college is going to be laid back, but I’m just wondering if a community college is a good option for someone in the service,” said Caputi. “I wish I could sort of just see how my daily routine would work, between going to school and working while having drill on the weekends. I really hope it’s relaxed and easy to transition.”

Although there are some similarities, being at a university and living on your own entails some differences than a community college. Brittney Miechle, junior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, can vouch for different types of expectations.

“College is not a joke! I really thought I would be partying more than studying since I never really had to try in high school,” said Miechle. “I definitely had to learn to somewhat balance the time I spend on each activity, and most of my time is definitely spent studying.”

U of I may differ from ECC, but Miechle has a characteristic in common with many community college students: a first generation college student.

“None of my family really knew anything about college life,” said Miechle. “I really wish I had more of a gauge about the basics, like whether or not I really needed a textbook for class.”

The expenses of college, community or university, are always a large impact on students who are in their early 20s. Apart from wanting to be informed of what sort of expenses college-life entail, the pressures of figuring out a future career path ultimately takes reign.

“I also wish I knew that changing my mind about my major a million times was okay,” said Michele. “A lot of people change their course of action at least a little bit and that’s okay!”

ECC alumni, Stefanie Passo, 23, agrees strongly with Miechle’s statements about life at college.  

“I wish I knew that it’s okay to not know what you’re doing,” said Passo. “It’s okay to feel as though you don’t have your life figured out by your third year at ECC. That’s the beauty of community college; you can be part-time, full-time, you can take one class if you wanted to. You go about your education at your own pace, at your own time, and I think that’s the biggest thing people can take away from ECC.”

Passo has graduated from ECC with an Associates Degree of Applied Science.

“I wish I knew that the school also had so many clubs and student involvement, I was definitely a PCP [parking lot-class-parking lot] student,” chuckles Passo. “But I really wish I took the chance to get involved and meet new people and do different things around campus. I would highly recommend that to any and all students.”

Whether you’re a freshman, a university attendee or an alumni, college has affected the lives of many. Nerves are normal, new chapters are scary, but youth is precious. College is the time to take advantage of being in control of your future and your choices. Not every mistake is a failure, and not every day will be the best. However, ECC is a safe haven, a metaphorical buoy, for all those who feel the same way about diving into a new waters. That is what I wish I knew.