I recently ran a reader survey in which I asked you guys to let me know what you’d like to see more of, either here on College Compass, or in the college blogosphere in general. One reader’s answer really caught my attention; she said:

“A realistic overview of what it’s like to be in college. Academics, assignments, work, relationships, etc. Sometimes blogs tend to compartmentalize each of those, when really everything affects each part.”

I think she’s absolutely right. So many college blogs want to ‘go deep’ with a subject that they don’t zoom out to show the whole picture. But when I think back to being a prospective college student, my biggest concern and interest was what college was ‘really like.’

In response, wanted to show you not just what college has been like for me, by giving you insight into one real week in my college experience — four times over! I chose a random week in the fall semester — the second week of November — and went through my emails, photos, and planner to see what I was really up to for every year of my college experience. Here’s what college was ‘really like’ for me.

A Week in My First Year at Wellesley College

The fall semester of my first year at Wellesley College was challenging for me, though it got easier over time. I had a few close friends, but I still felt anxious about schoolwork and finding my place on campus.

What I was working on

I was juggling two major projects in November of my freshman fall semester: the midterm paper for my philosophy course, and the final group project for my computer science course. The midterm philosophy paper was a collection of three essays, and I spent a lot of late nights in my friend’s dorm working on it together. The final computer science project was a website designed for the German club on campus. I was also juggling daily Hebrew homework and a short weekly write-up for my Science and the Bible seminar.

What I was doing

At the time, I was spending most of my study time in either the main room in the student center, called the Fireplace Room, or in the basement of my friend’s dorm, nicknamed the Dungeon of Fun. I was really good friends with her and her roommate, and also pretty friendly with a lot of the girls on my floor in my own dorm. My main extracurricular activities were two faith groups and a community service organization, as well as my dorm’s House Council.

What College Is Really Like

My weekly schedule

Sunday: Evening tea circle at 8:00 PM with my friends in the Dungeon of Fun. We would drink different flavors of tea and work on our papers together until around midnight, when I’d either walk across campus to my own dorm, or crash in my friends’ room on their extra bed.

Monday: My first class of the day was Computer Science at 8:30, followed by Hebrew class at 9:50. I usually woke up right before class and would grab a quick breakfast of eggs and a waffle in the dining hall attached to my dorm, then run to my classes. I’d spend my afternoon working and having fun in the student center, and would hang out with my friends in the evening.

Tuesday:  Tuesday was my busiest day of the week. I had a Computer Science lab at 8:30, which was like an interactive class meant to solidify the knowledge I’d picked up in my Monday class. My downtime between classes was usually spent at the student-run café in the academic quad, where (if I remember correctly) I’d shop for nail polish online and listen to music for an hour while I drank my coffee. I’d then go to  my philosophy class at 11:10, have lunch with my friend a dining hall near the student center, and head to my Religion Seminar from 1:30 to 4. After that I would go to the meeting of my community service group from 4:15 to 5:15, have a quick dinner and some down time, and then go to House Council at 8.

House Council was hands-down my favorite activity in all four years of college. It was a sort of student senate that was dorm-specific, and it’s where I most strongly felt my community in my first year. I was the ‘floor representative’ for my floor, and I was on the merchandise committee. But my fondest memories of house council were the fun icebreaker questions, the jokes, and the coffeehouse night we had with live music and chocolate-covered strawberries.

What College Is Really Like

Wednesday:  Wednesday morning was relaxed for me. I had Hebrew class at 9:50, and then a lot of downtime until I met with my faith group at 5:30. This week, I attended a peer tutoring workshop on choosing your major at 8:00 in my dorm. Later that night, I had a faith circle meeting again at 9. I spent the last few hours before bed working on my computer science project in the kitchen on my dorm floor.

Thursday: On Thursday morning I woke up early for spring classes registration at 8:00 AM. I then had breakfast and went to my computer science class at 8:30 and Hebrew class at 9:50. The rest of the day I did homework and hung out with friends; that night we had a movie night where we sat on my friend’s bed and had tea and candy while watching a TV show.

Friday: On Fridays my only class was philosophy at 11:10. I was attending an event in Boston the next day, so I moved some of my weekend homework time over to Friday and spent a lot of this day working. In the evening I hung out with my friends and we had a nail-painting party. I Skyped with my boyfriend, watched a cheesy romantic comedy, and went to bed.

Saturday: On Saturday my friend and I attended a book signing and talk in Boston.

A Week in My Sophomore Year at Wellesley College

By my sophomore year, I was much more secure about my place on campus. I had a tight-knit group of friends in my dorm and a few great friends across and around campus, as well. Classes were going well and my main activities outside of class were my two faith groups and House Council, as well as Res Staff, where I was an RA, and Multifaith Council.

What College Is Really Like

What I was working on

This seems to have been a relatively slow week for me; it looks like I only had Hebrew and German homework and a short story due for my English class.

What I was doing

I was spending a lot more time in my own dorm in sophomore year than before, in large part because I had a great group of friends there and because so many things were happening in my dorm. I attended a lot of programs and events on my end of campus this semester.

My weekly schedule

Sunday: My faith group went on a church trip together into a nearby town! We then went to Walden Pond to admire the nature.

What College Is Really Like

Monday: I had an 8:30 German class, my Hebrew class at 11:10, then lunch with friends and my writing class at 1:30. On Monday evenings the president of my dorm would have her weekly teas, and this week was a movie night with popcorn. My friends and I went together and then I did some homework and studying before bed.

Tuesday: At 11:10 I had my Islam in the Modern World class, followed by a meeting of my faith group 4:30, dinner, then a two-hour Res Staff Meeting from 7-9, and House Council from 9-10. Because the evening was usually my time to work and my Tuesday evenings were pretty non-stop, I’d have to do a lot of my homework earlier in the day before my religion class, or early the next morning.

Wednesday: I had an 8:30 German class, after which I would go drink coffee in the student-run café in the building. Next I had an 11:10 Hebrew class in the library, Mutlifaith Council with lunch provided from 12:30-1:30, and a faith group meeting from 5:30-7 over dinner. After two days with a lot of events in them, I spent the evening alone catching up on homework and chatting with my boyfriend.

Thursday: On Thursday I had another 8:30 German class, Hebrew at 11:10, and my writing class at 1:30, with breaks with friends in between. That evening I was presenting at the Celebration of Light, an interfaith festival of celebrations were I was speaking on Christmas and the Christian tradition.

Friday: I had a slow morning doing work over breakfast, followed by my Islam in the Modern World class and an afternoon baking cookies with my friends. That night I Skyped a little with my boyfriend before going to  bed.

Saturday: I can’t find much about what I did this Saturday so, to be honest, I assume that I spent most of it working! College life, I suppose!

A Week in my Junior Year at Oxford University

In my Junior year of college, I studied abroad in England. I don’t have a ton of information about exactly what I was doing in this week at Oxford, because the email that I used at Oxford is no longer one I have access to. Ironically, this is the year of college that I blogged about most regularly, so I do have a blog post that came out in the second week of November about what I was up to.

What College Is Really Like

What I was working on

I had a paper due for my primary tutorial on the matriarchs in Genesis, as well as another eight-page paper due for my Philosophy of Religion class on Cartesian Dualism. From what I remember, I loved my primary tutorial but really did not enjoy my philosophy class. I was also blogging about twice a week at this time!

What I was doing

For fun, I was in my college choir, and we had a small concert every week during the Wednesday night service. After that, we had a formal dinner with multiple courses — every Wednesday night! I also occasionally attended a prayer service on Monday mornings, but most of my social time was spent with my friends and not in structured activities.

My weekly schedule

I don’t have a detailed schedule for this year, but if you’d like more information on how my week looked, you can check out my Oxford Diaries series over on my personal blog.

What College Is Really Like

A Week in my Senior Year at Wellesley College

I took a semester off in the fall of my original senior year, and came back to Wellesley that spring, causing me to graduate a semester later than my peers. That means that my senior fall was actually two years after my junior fall, just because of the semester delay in graduating! My senior year was by far the best of my years at Wellesley; I was the most happy and secure of all my college experience, and I had the best friends I’ve ever had. My main activity outside of classes was running three blogs full-time in addition to schoolwork, but I also served on my college’s Multifaith Council again, and was the Vice President of my dorm and House Council.

What College Is Really Like

What I was working on

For school, I had a short paper due for my Religion and American Politics seminar, as well as a midterm paper on a particular painting for my Dutch art class.

What I was doing

This was an interesting week for me; I had just come back from a trip to New York and I was about to go away to Seattle for a few days the following weekend. I also had a book launch just a few days before this week started, plus it was election week, and I had a dinner scheduled with my friends where I would be doing a lot of the cooking.

My weekly schedule

Sunday: On Sunday I was traveling back from New York and a trip to the Met with my art class. I went to bed right after dinner because I had been up since 5!

What College Is Really Like

Monday: On Monday I had a meeting with my professor for our independent study on religion and the founding fathers. In the afternoons I would work in the library, and I would spend evenings with my friends, often painting or watching a movie.

Tuesday: Tuesdays started with an art history class and saw a few meetings throughout the day. Usually I had a House Council meeting on Tuesday, but this Tuesday was election night so we had a watch event instead. I went to bed pretty late.

Wednesday: On Wednesday morning my friends and I had a meeting and got some supplies for a project. That afternoon I had a seminar, and in the evening, my friend and I went to a Pentatonix concert in Boston.

Thursday: I had no classes on Thursdays in my senior fall, so I spent all day working and then spent the evening hanging out with my friends!

Friday: On Friday I had an art class in the morning. I spent the afternoon working and that night, my friends and I had a painting party.

Saturday: Again, I can’t find too much about this day so I’m not sure what I was up to, but I’m sure it was just work and time with friends.

These four weeks across four years of my college experience give an insight into what my college experience was like. While there is no one way to experience college, and no two students’ experiences are exactly alike, I hope that seeing what my college years were like can give you some insight into the experience of others, as well.

What College Is Really Like

Sara Laughed

Sara is the founder of College Compass and an alumna of Wellesley College and Oxford University. She runs the popular blog Sara Laughed. Her greatest aspiration is to live a creative life fueled by love and coffee. Follow her onTwitter and Instagram at @SaraLaughed.