What the Media Didn’t Tell Me About College

A photo of student intern Jahnay over a photo of the Cornell tower.

By: Jahnay Bryan, A&S ’23

As I complete my freshman year and continue my journey at Cornell, I find there are many things the media did not tell me about college. Now, I want to share them with you. Here are six things I learned during my freshman year.

Professors are not scary
Growing up, I had never watched a show where professors were understanding. Heading to college, I expected scary, older people teaching me while possibly not being inclusive and never understanding. Fortunately, I did not let the media scare me. As a freshman, I have already made lifelong connections with and through my professors. While I am not saying all professors are the same, remember they are people too. Reach out to check on them and keep connecting!

Four-year course plans are NECESSARY
When looking through Cornell’s course offerings, I became overwhelmed. There were so many courses I wanted to take, but not enough semesters! Once I crafted a four-year plan, I was able to include all my major, minor, and pre-med requirements, while still including random courses that sparked my interest. This balance is crucial, so you do not get to your senior year and feel like you did not branch out enough. If you are like me and love math and science, but need to include social justice and social sciences into your studies, please work on this early when you have time.

Finding friends is easy
Honestly, I did not concern myself with finding friends when I thought about college, but for those who do, I can assure you, you will find your people. At this point, I am sure you’ve heard this a thousand times. I say this because college students (freshmen, especially) are incredibly social and friendly. Sports games, orientation, classes, dorms, organizations, and so much more help bring college students together. Some people find themselves surrounded by the same people, but remember, you have the luxury of picking the people you surround yourself with in college.

Roommates aren’t just characters
I feel like roommate stories are dramatized in the media. Either your roommate is your bestie or your arch-nemesis. I did not experience either. Going random, I thought I was destined to meet my bestie or nemesis. While I was disappointed I did not find my best friend in my freshman roommate, my neutral roommate experience worked out for the best. Because of our relationship, my room was a conducive study place that was often silent and not a place to socialize. Also, we did not have to worry about some of the conflicts that can arise amongst close friends. Do not be scared to go random!

Pre-Med students CAN have fun
Why is there no representation in the media that conveys a balanced pre-med life?! In my pre-med experience, I study every day, whether that is reviewing/rewriting my notes, going to office hours (OH), doing practice problems, or intensely studying for an exam. I found myself studying to fill the educational gaps, as I did not take AP Bio nor have any exposure to organic chemistry. Sticking to my weekly and daily study schedule, gave me chances to go out on the weekends! Also, as you get more acclimated to college, balancing your coursework becomes easier.

Sometimes you have to find your own support system
It is true you are independent in college. For some of us, we have been independent because of family circumstances. For others, this is not the case. Either way, it is essential to reach out to people. Go to supportive offices to find mentors, email faculty members, use LinkedIn, stay connected to your professors, and communicate with your supervisors. These are only a few ways to find your own support system, but remember there are resources all over campus, you just have to utilize them.