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How Georgia State is not what students expect

Students come into college with certain expectations about what college will be like. A lot of preconceived notions stem from movies, TV shows and books: non-stop events, clubs and so much free time to explore and do whatever your heart desires all while miraculously maintaining a 4.0 GPA. 

With Georgia State’s thousands of students and its main campus being in downtown Atlanta, it’s no wonder that students come with the expectation that attending Georgia State will be a lot like attending New York University. Unfortunately, what students expect from Georgia State and what the realities are contrast greatly.

Being in the city, students assume that with an enrollment of over 53,000 students, making friends would be easy, but this is not necessarily the case. It’s important to make the distinction between acquaintances and real friends, as there is a major difference between the two. It doesn’t take much effort to make an acquaintance on campus.

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However, making actual friends — people who you know you and you can call up at any time of the day — is not as easy to make. Georgia State is so diverse that people seem to stay within their niche and seldom branch outside their circle to make friends. Similarly, it is easy to create a routine of just going to class and staying in your dorm room because you have to make more of an effort to make friends.

Students come with the mentality that Georgia State is like any other school when it comes to applying for student housing and having the flexibility to choose whatever dorms you want. Much like the housing shortage crisis in 2017, Georgia State is still struggling to accommodate the influx of students.

With a large number of students living in student housing, having access to the dorms you really want is getting harder and harder with each passing year. Compared to my sophomore year, I applied for housing in May and still got a nicer dorm than just a year later, when I paid for housing in January. But I was waitlisted for months and did not get an actual room assignment until a few weeks before classes started.

The money may not be an issue, just what is available for you and for how long it is available. After paying off your last semester, less than a few months later, you have to front expenses for housing for the next year as soon as possible, or else you will be waitlisted. Just one week from when the housing application opens to when you pay could mean the difference between living on campus and having to commute to school.

Along the lines of diversity, this is another aspect of Georgia State that shocks incoming students. Considering Georgia State’s location, students assume that the campus’ demographics will look a certain way. Despite this, the main campus is very diverse in terms of different ethnicities, nationalities and backgrounds. We have many international students.

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Metro Atlanta is one of the most populous cities in the U.S.. You would assume that there would be so many activities and adventures to be explored just from wandering the streets alone. Sadly, spontaneously gallivanting the streets at night is a major safety risk if you’re in downtown Atlanta. At night, students have gotten mugged, harassed and assaulted. You can find hidden gems around the city but you have to be strategic about where you’re going and when.

As a 20-year-old living in Atlanta, I can’t truly attest to all nightlife on campus. For the 21-and-over crowd, there will always be things going on in Atlanta. However, I can only attest to the night scene that I readily have access to downtown, which doesn’t amount to much. Other than concerts and the occasional festival, most of the attractions of the nightlife for many students are nonexistent and usually cost a lot of money.

Financially, there are a lot of hidden expenses that come with living in Atlanta and attending Georgia State, including paying for parking garages or public transportation if you choose not to bring your car, which can get very pricey on top of tuition and housing.

Similarly, the lack of easy access to grocery stores in the city is an absolute nightmare because everything costs almost double they normally would cost in the suburbs. Clothes and shoes are often worn down due to increased usage in the city, and this can leave students having to replace more frequently.

Being late for class in comparison to those who choose not to show up may not seem like a big deal because you have so much freedom in college. At Georgia State, these two can quickly amount to the same result. Choosing to sleep an extra 15 minutes and being late for class could mean the difference between you attending class and missing it altogether. This is a major issue for students who commute, in particular. Traffic going into Atlanta is never-ending and you have to be very strategic when making the trek to campus.

Likewise, registering for classes can also be a hassle. “If you’re not early, you’re late” should be your mantra at Georgia State. Classes also fill up quickly, especially when you’re registering for general education courses. Potential attendance in these classes can reach up to 200 students.

Making sure that your class choices are as concrete as possible for you is in your best interest if you do not want to be stuck not taking an important class that you need. Be mindful of deadlines and important dates as well as add-drop periods.

There are a lot of ways Georgia State tries to welcome students and find ways to keep incoming students entertained. On the contrary, there are many aspects of life at Georgia State that may not meet student’s expectations of what a college in the city might be like. Nevertheless, it is up to each student to create their own memories and form their own positive school experiences.

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