5 Things I Didn’t Expect About College

College of Arts & Sciences sophomore April Bartle shares some surprising things she has experienced as a UM-Flint student. 

Starting college brings a cluster of emotions: excitement, anxiety, confusion – the list goes on. For me, I was looking forward to a fresh start. Like every other freshman, I was so excited for new experiences and to meet new people. Thanks to UM-Flint, I have found those things and more. Here are five things I didn’t expect about college.

5. How friendly everyone is

My friends and I at the mall–remember going to the mall?

I only knew one person during my first on campus, my dorm roommate (we came from the same high school). The following weekend, I attended Wolverine Welcome in the Recreation Center for a chance to meet other students and organizations. It was at that event that I met two of my now very good friends Isabelle and Robert. I was greeted with warm smiles and fun conversation. It was so refreshing just how friendly and welcoming everyone was. I came to realize later on that we were all in the same spot, wanting to make new friendships that would last a lifetime.  

4. The amount of reading there is

I had done my fair share of reading when I was younger, fairy tales and fiction. Come freshman year, I was not expecting the amount of reading that came with my classes. My Psychology class required us to have read at least a chapter sometimes consisting of 40 pages or more before each class. That way, we could listen to the lecture and understand the concepts my professor was further explaining. It was difficult adjusting, but it really helped my understanding to read the material first, then follow up with a lecture. 

3. How much I’d love the Library

The Frances Willson Thompson Library is one of my favorite places on campus.

One of the places I grew to love (when we were on campus) was the library. I never spent as much time in a library my whole life as I did in my first year of college. It’s a quiet place where you can shut yourself away from distractions and focus. I always made it a point to put my phone on “do not disturb” when I was studying. It became the place where I was most productive in my school work.

2. How much more I’d be challenged academically

We aren’t not just learning facts, we’re learning how to think for ourselves.

To be honest, high school wasn’t that challenging for me. I passed my classes with high grades and didn’t need much assistance when it came to homework. At UM-Flint, I’ve already faced many challenging classes. I truly felt like I was being pushed to think for myself, and to even question my professors, which was very different. Students have more chances to explore personal ideas, which is a surprisingly difficult adjustment. 

1. How much I’d love a smaller, close-knit campus community

I came to UM-Flint with every intention of transferring to a larger campus after a year or so. I thought a bigger university meant more prestigious opportunities. What I came to realize was that the small class sizes at UM-Flint make all the difference for my college experience. A close-knit campus means it is easy to make connections. In almost everything I do with UM-Flint, I see a familiar face, which makes me feel more connected to my college community. I have had more opportunities to explore who I am than I ever would have at a bigger university.

April Bartle is a sophomore Communications Studies major at the University of Michigan-Flint.