QnA – Realistic College Experiences

Someone asked: Any advice on writing realistic college experiences? I know you’re still in High School, but do you perhaps have blogs, websites, or prompts that could help me :). Also, just curious, what career are you interested in?

I think that college is a lot like any other large change in one’s life, in the sense that it’s exciting, scary, and confusing all at the same time. You feel more mature because you’re officially on your own for the first time, but you also feel more naive than ever because.. you’re completely on your own. The world isn’t holding your hand anymore, and you’re highly aware of that, but you feel a sense of pride because you know that you don’t need it to anymore. 

If you take that general mindset and insert it into your college characters, that will shine through in their actions and decisions. This sort of reality check will appear differently in different types of characters, and mix more diversely with different traits and self-images. Some characters will be more focused on the scary things, some will be more risky because they feel invincible, and some will be indifferent at first, taking it less seriously but being totally thrown by the unexpected parts of life that come with integrating into adult life. There’s a lot of room for character development by introducing this universal internal struggle.

In turn, don’t play it up too much. College is a big step, but remember that most students attending have had years to ruminate on the idea. That means that they have expectations, and those will obviously be challenged. There will be things they don’t expect, struggles they never even thought of, experiences they didn’t think they would enjoy, and they will be let down because expectations are not reality. 

Don’t play too much into college stereotypes, because while a lot of them are based in reality, media portrayal and hindsight storytelling leads to a lot of exaggeration. Avoid generalizations as well, because college may be a very uniform experience, but it’s one of the times in a person’s life that they will be surrounded by a ton of diversity in community, opportunity, and life-experience. No college is exactly like another, and no community houses a cookie-cutter community of individuals. Use this. It’s much more interesting to read about an unconventional cast of diverse people with deep backgrounds and individual personalities than a hodgepodge of stereotypes thrown into a textbook setting with an overused plot line. 

Also, to address your last question, I’m planning on double-majoring in film production and business. I want to eventually do a mixture of screenwriting, directing, and producing. Maybe a little acting too, I don’t know. 

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