Colleges, or perhaps according to some people, a continuum of high school programs, are built to educate via the undergraduate degrees courses that they primarily offer.
These colleges, like any other institution of higher learning, are more than just the courses that they teach, as they afford college students the avenue to experience real-life situations that could help them become better equipped to adapt in the real world.
However, this is not to say that college does not have its obvious shortcomings, for example, like having to take classes that one really doesn’t need, and the neck-breaking cost of tuition and fees, which is said to be a major reason why ~31 million college students dropped out, over the past 20 years, without receiving a degree or certification.
Aside from some of these obvious lapses, why would anyone hate to attend college especially if one has the financial means to pay for tuition, and given that these institutions are built to help mold and give students the tools needed to forge a better future?
Well, to answer the question, we reached out to 21 former students, who completed their college education, to share some of their less-obvious negative experiences, which could potentially impact any college-bound student. Hopefully, these concerns could prepare students psychologically and otherwise to make their college experience less stressful. These shortcomings may also help school administrators modify their programs to give their students better learning and student life experience.
Here are their stories/experiences:
By the way, as you read, you may want to pay particular attention to the few repetitive reasons given, which could imply an almost general concern that should not be taken for granted.
1) Dr. Chester Goad
“I’m a university administrator and disability advocate. But I am also a lifelong learner. I completed my doctorate in 2013. For the most part, I was fortunate to get a great education at different institutions, but the one thing I struggled with most as a student, was when professors failed to make the connection between the “what” you were learning and the “why” behind it.
When professors leave out that step, it makes learning seem less relevant and thus less fun. That extra step, making the connection between the what and the why of an assignment or project could be the difference between boring busywork, and best effort.
My best advice for students who find themselves in a course that fails to make the connection is not to give up, but to make their own effort to find the why. Be okay with being the student, ask questions, and truly seek the answers that you need. Also, do your own research and make that connection yourself!”
2) Dr. Grace Lee
I spent 10 years in college and achieved three degrees, including a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. After a decade of formal education, I can articulate with greater clarity on the things I hated as a college student! Like many students, I went straight to college from high school. My school counselors helped me fill out college applications by asking simple questions to decide whether I liked arts or science.
In college, I experienced a lack of support and encouragement in helping me figure out what’s actually important to my future career and life. I saw an overemphasis on getting good grades, which was the measure of success that had a stronghold on me even after graduation. I hated that I wasn’t taught how to define my own goals with an awareness of my own values.
After my Ph.D., I still didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do in my own career and life, and I especially didn’t have a vision or roadmap for my own personal success. I hated that there was no guidance or coaching on how to figure out the important questions in life or the greater context of education and career.
3) Dr. Christopher Drew
What I hated the most as a college student are boring and uninspiring professors. They looked and sounded bored and frequently went off-script. You will find yourself in more than a few mind-numbingly boring and pointless lectures in your time at college.
Because classes were usually compulsory, I still turned up but started using lectures as study time. I found boring lectures to be the best time to do my reading – without distractions!
Studying my notes in otherwise useless lectures dramatically increased my productivity and saved me so much time during my college years.
4) Brynn Tweeddale
I went to school at a large public university and one of the things that I hated as a college student was the lectures. I can’t tell you how many times I went to a lecture only for it to be a summary and explanation of all the chapters of the book I was required to read before class.
This is great for people who didn’t read, but not so great for those of us who did. I actually stopped spending so much money on books after the first few quarters of college. I would go to my classes for a few weeks and then decide if the readings were actually supplemental and helpful or if they would just be covered in class. I probably saved hundreds of dollars each quarter!
5) Michael Outar
The things I hated as a college student was the constant flow of information that I will never need to know or use in my career. I understand the whole well-rounded argument, but some classes, which I was forced to take, had nothing to do with my major and it felt like a waste of my time when I could have been focusing on topics related to my major.
The other thing I hated as a college student was the structure of semesters, most college students are cramming what they need to know for the next day just so they can pass a test, which is a horrible way of learning.
Students, due to the hectic time of Midterms and Finals, are essentially forced to cram just to pass and they end up retaining little information from the expensive class they just paid for.
I also hated the fact that college didn’t prepare me for the real world, especially the absence of financial literacy. while I didn’t know it as a college student I really felt the pressure when landing my first job in corporate America. I wasn’t prepared for taxes, benefits, retirement plans, etc… I had to learn it by myself and now I teach thousands of people including college students how to prepare themselves financially.
6) Neil O’Donnell
Through the four and a half years of undergrad and then years of grad school, I racked up a tremendous amount of experience living in college environments. Add to that 16 years of working full time as a college advisor, I certainly have heard student complaints, many of which were on par with the things that frustrated me about college.
Textbooks top the list as prices for textbooks are ridiculous, and professors sometimes end up not using the required textbook at all during the semester. Did I mention you can possibly sell a book back to the bookstore at the semester’s end… for around 10% of what you paid for it? While in the bookstore, just about everything else is priced through the roof; you almost need a loan just to cover buying a bag of chips or a coffee.
As for getting classes, you often don’t get your second or third choice (let alone your first choice) given the number of students seeking each class. Likewise, some classes are at odd times throughout the day, which makes it hard to find time for studying or working a job. There is definitely a lot about college living that is frustrating.
7) Ciara Hautau
College is incredible, but looking back at it now there are a few things I’m so happy I don’t have to do anymore. I think the biggest thing that I hated about college was studying. I know that studying is obviously insanely necessary to succeed at school but the actual process is incredibly painful.
Generally, professors will not give you any clue of what will be on an exam (especially midterm exams), and so, you will find yourself making an incredibly long study guide to make sure you don’t miss any information.
And then you will have to sit in a room and try and memorize every single morsel of information. And in addition to this, you’re handling dozens of other tests, presentations, and other assignments that are equally as stressful.
It definitely teaches you a ton about time management and preparation, but it’s extremely exhausting and I’m glad it’s over.
8) Sean Pour
My name is Sean Pour and I graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in computer science. One of the things that I hated the most about being a college student was the irrelevant classes we were forced to take.
In particular, general education was frustrating. I felt that it hindered my ability to learn to program at a more expedited rate. As a student having to take history classes, oceanography classes, and dance classes was a bit strange to me. This is because I felt that it had little to do with what I was there for, which made me less motivated in those classes. I would have much preferred to spend more time focusing on an internship or something of that nature.
9) Liz Jeneault
When I was a college student at New York University, I hated how difficult it was sometimes to start new internships. I wanted to start interning from the moment I arrived in New York City. I knew it’d provide me with invaluable experience!
But, I ran into a number of issues with internships because college credits were not being offered for it right away. For example, I had to stop interning at Seventeen Magazine my freshman year because New York University (NYU) didn’t offer college credit to freshmen in exchange for an internship. It was incredibly frustrating!
I instead would opt for internships that did not require college credit, which wasn’t my preferred options. I did, later on, receive credit for some internships. One of them turned into a reporter job for me right after college. I also interned at ABC News during my senior year and was paid an hourly rate for my work.
I really appreciated that as I always remembered complaining to people about how I wished more employers would just pay their interns
10) Brandon Amoroso
The thing I hated the most about being a college student is the lack of hands-on business experience you get in the classroom. We did a lot of case studies, but we’re evaluating public companies from the eyes of the CEO?
How many of us are really going to go on to become the CEO of Coca-Cola? Most likely, none. I left school feeling like I knew how to be a high-level manager but didn’t gain a lot of technical, real-life applicable skills in the classroom. I had to learn this outside of school.
11) Jonathan Mendoza
One of the experiences that I did not like in college was burnout. Toward my junior and senior year, I began to experience burnout as I was taking more upper-level classes. While I was taking these courses, I was also taking on more leadership positions in the organizations that I was a member of. I felt like my time was often spread too thin because I was always in class, working on homework, or fulfilling my obligations for my extracurriculars, which brings me to another point/experience I did not like: the significant push to get involved.
As a new student, many organizations and administrators will express how important it is to get involved. While I was heavily involved, I felt it was because there was a stigma that if you did not get involved, then you were considered a nobody.
This is a stigma that I have noticed from speaking to students at other universities as well. I think mentioning getting involved is great, but being overly pushy about it is where it is interpreted as a scare tactic.
12) Rissa Cajulao
At 18 years of age, I had just moved back to America, and took the next logical step in my young life: go to college. Of course, I thought, “get the early classes so that you have the rest of the day to do whatever you want!” – big mistake.
It’s not because I wasn’t a morning person, no. In this case, it was because all the morning classes were packed. As in, we had to borrow desks/chairs from other classrooms and sit outside the door of the class and strain to hear what the professor was saying. These weren’t big classrooms, they looked just like my kindergarten classroom minus the cubby holes.
One of the most frustrating things about my college experience was the parking. Finding parking early in the morning when the coffee hadn’t kicked in yet, and then half run to class due to parking so far, not great. Definitely hated that. These things alone make me wish I thought about taking online classes, instead. Or at least attend a vocational school sooner.
13) Dana Devlin
But when my dad had to get emergency open heart surgery I had to email all of my teachers that I would be absent many days. All were understanding, except one crazy math professor who demanded I attend all of her classes or else she would fail me. Mind you, she wasn’t even a core class of mine! Her class was an elective that I took just to fill my schedule. And on top of that, she was pregnant!
How can a woman, who was about to bring a child into this world, be so insensitive towards a person who was dealing with a very intense and dramatic family issue?! My advice for anyone going into school, talk to other students before you choose a teacher. You want to know exactly who you’re dealing with, especially in the event of an emergency.
14) Igor Mitic
What I hated the most, back when I was in college, was the price of textbooks, and the impossibility of budgeting when you live with roommates. The reason for this is that many people are not quite ready to live by themselves when they are 19, let alone with others of the same age group!
So when living with roommates, even the best efforts to budget on basic house supplies, food, utilities, and rent are futile when people can spend their months budget on a weekend out. Not to mention general living conditions, cleaning and everything else that goes into living in an apartment.
What would happen is a cycle of borrowing money from each other that would never end, and yet we were still broke most of the time eating ramen noodles. So my advice would be to plan and budget to live on your own, even if it will cost you a bit more.
This requires more planning, as you will need to find an affordable place to rent, and prepare for higher monthly expenses. It may cost more, but you can counteract this by sticking to a strict food budget, and commit to being frugal with your money to enjoy the world’s most priceless commodity: peace of mind.
15) Renezen Benedicto
There’s that awkward moment when the professor assigns a team project and you’ll have to quickly make eye contact with someone near you who may also be taking the class without a group of friends.
While you can’t predict the commitment level of your team from the get-go, you’ll quickly see it the first time you meet. Decide right away, what commitment you want to give and go for it.
If you want to be all in and chase that, then do it even though you end up doing all the work. The time you waste being frustrated with your team and how it’s not fair that you’re doing all the work can just be focused on the work. But if you decide, you want balanced workloads then go for it. But be okay with being frustrated by your team. Now and then, however, your team will surprise you and teamwork won’t be so painful.
16) Sherry Gavanditti
17) Tess Robison
I went to a small school and the food was always so disappointing. There were rarely any good meals and after 4 years it got so old that I ended up going out for a second dinner with friends just about every night.
They never really varied what they served us and it was the same thing each week. To add to this, whenever the school would host any special event that was catered, it was always catered by the same company that fed us in the cafeteria…. which was basically the same food just presented nicer. So naturally, everyone, including me, hated the food.
I am one of those weird people that actually enjoys doing laundry but doing it in college was a completely different story. I really hated doing laundry.
Doing laundry in a dorm sucks because as a college student you only do laundry about every 3 weeks and you accumulate so much that the hamper becomes too heavy to lift. Not only do you have to drag it behind you down several long hallways but also up or down several flights of stairs to get to the laundry room.
Once you’ve finally made it there, you find out all of the washing machines are being used. At my school, there were only about 6 washing machines and 8 dryers in the dorm I lived and it housed at least 200 other students. Now you have to wait to do it and it literally took all day to get your laundry done because people wouldn’t come to get their laundry right away. I would end up throwing people’s finished laundry on a nearby table at times so I could get mine done.
In addition to that, you had to shell out several dollars in quarters which were extremely difficult to find because college students are broke and because no one uses change any more. (Not until my senior year did my school install debit/credit card machines)
One other thing that I really hated was the parking.
My school forced us to pay for a parking pass each semester if we had a car on campus, but then would not allow us to park by the classroom buildings. If we did, we would get a ticket. Only if you were off-campus could you park by the classrooms, and so, basically, they made us pay money so we could get a sticker on our car so the security guards would let us into the school.
18) Tamara South
As an undergraduate, I disliked the school meal plan. I would recommend, if possible, to opt-out of it because you are charged a lot for a meal plan that doesn’t give you many options in terms of eating healthy.
19) McKinzie Bean
One thing that always left a pit in my stomach was going to the book store to try to sell back my books at the end of the semester. You’d stand in the line for nearly an hour with all of the other hopeful students praying you got a decent payout for your old books.
Most of the time when you got to the front of the line you would find that either 1) They weren’t buying back your edition of the book anymore, or 2) that they were offering only a few dollars for it.
20) Kahlila Charles
There were somethings I liked about college such as waking up late and not having to pay bills. However, I totally cringed at ice breakers at the start of every semester. For example, when everyone had to go around and introduce themselves to the class. Most of the time, I didn’t know how to respond as I was very socially awkward.
I also hated the on-campus food. I lived on campus and didn’t like most of what was served. It was either too caloric or too bland to eat. The food is what contributed to my Freshman 15.
I also didn’t like school protests. I’m all for being a revolutionary, but things must be followed through. Students would take over part of a campus with a megaphone and posters, but no one shared petitions, reached out to attorneys for a pro-bono case, etc. It didn’t seem authentic to me and I thought the students just did it for show.
The final nail in the coffin for me in college were courses that were exam ONLY. This gave little room to receive good grades. It was all based on sitting in a boring lecture, studying, and regurgitating everything on the exam.
21) Dr. Karen Gorback
A nearby student introduced herself as a member of the graduate school student association. She asked me which program I was in and whether I was a part or full-time student.
As I was dressed in professional attire, I sensed she already knew the answer. Part-time, I said. I work full time and have four children.
Her response was colder than the night air. You shouldn’t be here. You know the purpose of a Ph.D. program is to do research to generate knowledge for the field. You can’t possibly have the time.
I was stunned and didn’t answer, but it hurt because she was wrong. With passion and perseverance, I made the time, did the research, and contributed to the body of knowledge in my discipline, earning a doctorate in 1992.