Five Things That Change When You Go to College

By Nicole Bolt

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.


                                                                         – John F. Kennedy

5. Your brain

Most obviously, you go to college to learn. I gained an abundance of knowledge over the last four years, much of which I’ve already forgotten, or will eventually forget. However, this does not mean that learning it was a waste. It’s buried deep inside my mind, and if I ever need to recall a fact about dinosaurs in the future, something just might come back to me. If anything, I’ll be able to carry my weight on trivia night. I learned from incredibly intelligent professors, equally amazing teaching assistants, as well as my peers. I am extremely fortunate to have gone to a “Big 10” university and learned everything that I did. No matter where or how long you studied, your brain has changed immensely and is now filled even more information to help equip you for what lies ahead.

4. Your opinions

College is a time for your mind to explore. You are out of the house, away from the guidance of those who raised you and their thoughts and opinions. You meet knew people who challenge your beliefs. You are introduced to new ideas by your professors and teaching assistants. Suddenly when someone asks you a question, your opinion changes and you engage in a debate you might not have otherwise had a few years ago. Things matter more because the stakes are higher, especially now that you are legally an adult and can vote. It’s ok for your opinions to change. It would be more of a problem if they didn’t. Education is not conducive to stagnation. 

3. Your friends

The first fall break of freshman year is arguably the best break you’ll have. It’s the break when you are closest to all of your high school friends, and it is the quick cure you need for your homesickness. However, as time passes, you might talk to some people less and less until they are just a status update in your news feed. Like you, your friends are busy with classes, other activities, and their new friends. They will inevitably change, just as you will. They may change for the better, for the worse, or simply just change. My grandma has always told me if you can die and have two people you can call a true friend, you are lucky. Not everyone will stay in your life, but it doesn’t mean you can’t look back on your time together with fondness and appreciate what each friend added to your life at the time.

2. Your relationship with your parents

No matter how independent you were prior to college, suddenly even the slightest safety net you had is ripped from under you. When you go away to school and have to deal with issues your parents might have otherwise helped you with, you gain a newfound appreciation for all they did to help you. At the same time, your parents see you flourishing and respect everything that you are doing for yourself on a daily basis. Slowly, your relationship will begin to shift and they will make fewer demands. They begin to see you as an adult that they offer their guidance instead and hope you make the right decision on your own. 

1.  You

If you wanted to be a brand new person when you went away to college and changed everything you could the summer before you left, your transformation probably failed miserably. The change wasn’t organic. You may have fooled people for a while, but eventually, every quirk you tried to erase crept toward the surface, and your true self showed through. Everything about who you are changed during college and while that is a little scary, it’s a good thing. Your money wasn’t well spent if you didn’t change. At my core, I know that I am still the same incredibly awkward, sometimes sarcastic, ambitious procrastinator that I was when I was 18, but at least now I better know the effects of those traits. Some pieces of my personality will never change, although they can be improved. I know that I have grown, and I am forever grateful to my college experience for all the change it has brought.  

Nicole Bolt is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in English with minors in mass communications and communications studies. The University of Iowa is home to the Alpha of Iowa Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.