he dorms have been filled, syllabus week is long since over, and pumpkin spice is e v e r y w h e r e, which can only mean one thing – spooky season is finally here! And you don’t have to camp out in that allegedly haunted campus building to see something scary – being a college student is pulse-pounding enough on its own. They told you this is the big leagues – nobody’s going to hold your hand anymore. But even if you’re supposed to have everything together, do you? Does anyone?

If you feel like you’ve still got a lot to figure out, you’re not alone. In honor of Halloween, we’ve compiled a list of the 31 scariest things about college. Keep reading… if you dare!

1. You have no idea what your random roommate will be like.

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Random roommate a deranged killer? Probably not. But if you had to read the creepy Shirley Jackson story at any point in high school, you’ll be very aware that not every lottery is a good one, and the housing lottery is a real toss up.

Random roommates can turn out to be lifelong friends (hi Shelby 👋), or they can make your living situation a total horror show. Only time can tell.

2. Weeder classes that chew you up and spit you out again.

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Sure, professors claim that there’s no such thing as weed-out classes, and if there are, it surely isn’t their class – but taking their word for it is kind of like trusting the carnivorous alien plant you found for an absolute bargain when it promises you fame and fortune.

Unfortunately, even if the class immediately raises some red flags , you may not be able to bow out thanks to major requirements. So whether you wind up with the good guy triumphs version or find yourself stuck in the director’s cut where evil prevails is ultimately up to you.

3. Having no idea what’s in the jungle juice, but going for it anyway.

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Eye of newt and toe of frog… Wool of bat, tongue of dog…

Who knows what you’ll find lurking beneath the surface of the jungle juice sitting in the kitchen of some friend of a friend’s off campus apartment? Giving it a shot anyway is just part of the college experience.

It might have enough cran to cover up the telltale taste of bottom shelf vodka, but whatever the concoction consists of, beware! Especially if you’ve got an early class the next day.

4. Trying to maintain some shred of dignity in the co-ed bathrooms

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Showering in college is a lot different than showering at home. If some random friend’s boyfriend (or girlfriend, or random hookup, whatever) breezed through your parent’s house, they’d have some explaining to do. But in college, it’s just part of life.

Between suddenly having an audience for your shower rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody to forgetting you took the razor out of your caddy for a quick touchup before class to enduring the competing stinkiness of mixed company, co-ed bathrooms are rife with embarrassing opportunities.

And don’t forget to wear your shower shoes.

5. Getting lost anytime you have class in a new building.

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Remember when all of your classes were in the same hallway? Not anymore. Classes for your major might be pretty close together for the most part, but electives will have you booking it all over campus – sometimes with only a few minutes to spare.

So if you’ve always wanted to take a tai chi class but it’s only offered in the gym at the top of the hill the hour before your Very Important Algorithms Class, you run the risk of ending up with some major FOMO that may actually survive beyond graduation.

6. Making it through rush week and activities fairs without getting sucked into more stuff than you have room for.

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When it comes to Greek life, you’re either into it or you’re not. Watching PNMs (Prospective New Members) chronicle their stories on RushTok or doing a deep dive into Bama Rush rituals might make it seem glamorous – who cares you have to get up at 5am to do a full blowout when you get to live in a mansion?? – but time management is one of the sneaky skills you end up learning during your time on campus.

Unfortunately? That means you might not be able to join every extracurricular that interests you if you want to stay off of academic probation.

But with options ranging from the campus quidditch team to the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (aka FSAE aka Race Car Club) to volunteer groups to dance troupes to research coalitions to support alliances to professional associations, it can be hard to pare it down 💀

7. Putting up with other people’s mess.

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Dealing with your own mess? 🤷‍♂️

Dealing with someone else’s mess? 🤦‍♂️

But it’s an unfortunate fact of college life that you and the person you sleep 8 feet from might have different levels of tolerance for chaos. Which is why even if you’re besties, not every friend a good roommate makes.

8. Being stuck on campus over break.

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Yeah, it’s a ghost town. Which don’t get me wrong, can be a nice break from constantly being elbow-to-elbow with your fellow students at the library and competing for the last slice of the good dessert in the dining hall. But after the relief wears off… it gets kind of lonely :(

9. Accidentally leaving your camera on during a Zoom meeting.

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“Excuse me? Yeah, sorry… um, do you know your camera’s on?”

Doesn’t matter if you’re consuming an entire cake in one class or didn’t bother with pants or are just minding your own business trying to remain awake and alert. Nightmare fuel.

10. Navigating the social scene means you’ll probably have to put on your dancing shoes.  

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This one’s for my introverts. Not even the scariest movies of all time can compare with the horror you feel when you realize that “going out” means… you have to dance in front of people??

No thank you, catch me streaming unappreciated horror classic Jennifer’s Body in the lounge on my floor instead.

11. Elevators. Sidewalks. It’s all too crowded.

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Colleges have been facing an overcrowding crisis for years. We’ve all heard this, yes?

Turns out despite enrollment dropping precipitously post pandemic, almost a quarter of public universities still have enrollment 6-25% greater than the capacity for their dorms, instructional buildings, and other facilities, or 17,400 schools.

Translation? Big classes. Not enough space. Waitlists for major-required courses.

So if your 100+ person 100 level class is giving you anxiety, you’re definitely not alone.

12. Ghosts - and not the ones that go bump in the night.

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Even if you managed to avoid landing in the dorm that the alleged ghost of the kid who allegedly died in a chem lab explosion is (allegedly!) haunting, you’ll probably still find your share of ghosts (or microghosts) on your college campus.

College relationships can end up being anything from a casual fling to The One and everything in between – which is part of why dating is so hard in your 20s.  After all, committing to stuff isn’t easy, and we’re not just talking about your choice in major.

Whether it’s navigating dating apps or working up the nerve to DTR, you need nerves of steel to stay in the dating game these days.

13. The price tag.

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Scared you, didn’t I?

With the Covid-era repayment pause over and done with and the price of tuition continuing to climb, figuring out how to pay back the money you borrowed is spookier than the Queen of Halloween herself.

14. Being buried alive in schoolwork.

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We’ve all gotta be buried alive somehow. For horror movie characters – by a crazed killer. For college goers – by the mountains of schoolwork leading up to midterms. RIP.

15. Missing home more than you thought you would.

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Heading off to college is exciting – a new start! A change to figure out what you really want!

But the thing about big life changes like moving out is that they make you appreciate the things you left behind.It might take a couple of years to catch up with you, but at some point you’ll be sitting in your apartment on a rainy autumn afternoon, wishing you could stage a John Carpenter marathon with mom or smell dad’s fall stew simmering on the stove. So maybe hold them just a little bit tighter when you go home for Thanksgiving.

16. Accidentally plagiarizing.

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Or maybe that’s a symptom of untreated anxiety.

You probably deserved to flunk that journal you wrote with ChatGPT at 11:59 the night it was due, but what if it’s an accident? Great minds think alike after all.

And there’s not a single jump scare that compares to seeing your essay lit up with “similarities” on TurnItIn. Fingers crossed it was just the citations.

17. Finding your place.

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College means starting over almost completely. With the exception of maybe a few friends who picked the same school, you’re leaving your entire support system behind during a pretty crazy era in your life.

That’s why it’s important to get involved on campus, to keep trying things to see what fits and what doesn’t. It might take some trial and error, but we’re sure you’ll find your place on campus soon!

18. Deadlines that come out of nowhere.

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Yup, just like that. No matter how organized you try to be, no number of Notion docs or academic success spells guarantees that something won’t slip through the cracks. Deadlines have a way of popping out like monster movies when you least expect them.

When it happens, you have the added scary task of emailing your professor for forgiveness (and an extension).

19. Unpaid internships.

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The real world is scary enough when you’re being adequately compensated for what you contribute. If the corporate grind and side hustle culture make you want to Scream, you might need to find a better option. Or just tough it out and hope you’re the friend who survives until the end of the movie.

20. Getting caught in the midst of the case of the mysterious disappearing friend group.

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Despite high school yearbooks being packed with signatures and promises to keep in touch, college is the first time many people experience the strange way life has of getting in the way. You’ll meet new people, get bogged down with schoolwork, and before you know it – it’s been 3 years since the last time you caught up.

The good news is that adult friendships are more mature and resilient than the ones you had as a kid. So even if it’s been a while, you’ll be able to pick up with the right people like it’s nothing at all.

21. Waking up for those 8ams.

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If you’re considering taking an early class, please heed this warning and don’t.

Even if you got up at 5am for high school every day.

Even if you really think you can do it.

Signing up for 8ams is how you get dangerously close to flunking for attendance. Unless of course you have a helpful friend in the great beyond who can get you out of bed when the alarm on your phone doesn’t do the job.

22. Dealing with the freshman flu all on your own.

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Even the most helpful of roommates can only do so much when cold and flu season takes you down. Take this as a sign to get the number of someone in each of your classes for notes in case you miss. And please, please get your flu shot.

23. Putting off laundry for as long as possible.

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Turns out there’s more to laundry than meets the eye. Learning how to get stains out of your own going-out tops could be an upper level elective all on its own.

Or you just throw everything into the washer in one heap and press some buttons. And use any item you can’t salvage as an excuse for a little retail therapy with your buddies.

24. Midterms that just go on and on and on and on.

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Once they start they just don’t stop. Resistance is futile. I hope you’ve been studying since syllabus week.

25. Attempting to keep up with your self care routine.

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It can be hard to find time for yourself between classes and friends and internships and clubs. But the easiest way to deal with burnout is to stop it before it begins.

Need a mental health day? Take it, you can finish studying tomorrow. Tired? It’s naptime. Hungry? Make time for a real meal. Stressed? Grab a drugstore sheet mask and get a hot tea from the campus coffee shop.

Taking care of yourself is always on the to-do list.

16. Knowing your grade depends on your ability to pull another all nighter.

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Even if your ADHD brain thinks it’s more fun to cram at the last minute, all nighters can be tough. The key? Snacks. Company. And don’t decide to take a little nap at 4am and sleep through the exam 😭

27. Three words: driving on campus.

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Having a car on campus can be super convenient. When you get sick of the same four restaurants or need to make a grocery run, it’s easy to get off campus. But if your school sells more parking passes than it has parking spots, it might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

Not to mention choosing between gas and food 🥲

28. Taking a peek into your cupboard on a college budget.

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It’s giving… well, nothing.

Good thing it’s pretty easy to find free food on a college campus. Just head to the next event at the student union and you should be golden.

29. Trying to fix your grade with finals.

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Luckily (or unluckily), the final is worth a huge chunk of the final grade in a lot of courses. So even if you screwed up some quizzes or forgot a couple of homework assignments or didn’t know you had to go to the recitation sessions, you might be able to make it work.

Pro tip: iStudiez Pro will automatically calculate your current grade in each class for you, including how it’s weighted. A lifesaver. It is absolutely worth $10 a year.

30. RIP childhood – the real world awaits.

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The American education system might tell you you’re a grownup, but college is a weird limbo that’s not quite being a kid, not quite being an adult. You might be nostalgic for a simpler time, but life gets better after college.

Sure your friend group might change and you’ll have more responsibilities, but you’ll also have more opportunities to make your life what you want it to be and more stability. It’s pretty nice not having to move every 10 months.

31. Doing it all again next year.

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No matter what the school year throws at you, it’s nice to know that you’ve got a couple of months off to recoup. So for now, just try not to think about next year: the sequel.

two cool ghosts braving the scary things about college
College is scary, but that’s no reason to lose your cool.

Scared yet? That’s okay, you’re not alone. Just remember that if you ever need a little help surviving the college grind, Adultist is here for you. Drop us a line with your questions about college life, relationships, academics, or whatever else – or share your horror stories in the comments. We love to hear from you!

It’s a scary world out there for college students, but you’ve got this. Happy Halloween! 👻

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P.S. Want a sneak peek at the horrors of adulthood? We covered the scariest things about being an adult, too 🎃

Oct 5, 2023