Back to school season: Then vs now

Ashley Potts

(Photo courtesy of

Back to school season has always been exciting. Even if the actual school part is dreaded, there’s something exciting in the air. Although, the whole process is a lot different now that we are in college. Some changes are for the better, and some make us feel nostalgic for the good ol’ days. 

Easing into things


Then: The first day – actually, the whole first week – was introductions and icebreaker games. The most stressful part of the first few days was getting used to waking up early again. There were a lot of hand outs to take home to parents regarding classroom rules and projects, but they all fit in your new pocket folder.

Now: Depending on the professor, “syllabus week” might actually last a whole class period. They’ll run through the class outline and rules relatively quickly and then send you on your way with some reading to do before the next class. In other cases, they might hand you a syllabus and start lecturing. Either way, there is way less time to ease into things, if any at all. 

School supply shopping

Lisa Frank logo
(Photo courtesy of Manitoba Coupon Maven – Michelle Roy on

Then: As kids, and even as high schoolers sometimes, school supply shopping was made easy. The nearest Target or Wal-Mart had easy-to-find lists that specifically laid out which items you needed for which classes depending on school and grade level. Not only that, but every item was pulled to the front of the store for you so you didn’t even need to search. The hardest decision was whether to get Lisa Frank or puppy pocket folders. 

Now: School supply shopping is a lot less fun now-a-days. This is because it costs a lot more. Gone are the days of buying four binders, four notebooks, pencils, erasers and calling it a day. Shopping for college requires furnishing whole bedrooms and apartments, and decorating them on top of that. It requires buying boring things like toilet paper and groceries. It requires paying for the fun things your parents used to take care of like wifi, cable and maybe even the monthly phone bill. It requires many different stores, utility companies, security deposits and mattresses. Plus, the notebooks don’t have puppies or superheros on them anymore. Lame.

Class schedules

Then: Finding out who your teacher was and which of your friends would be in your class was the most exciting part of the whole year in elementary school. You’d beg your mom to drive by the school on the way home to see if the class lists were posted in the window, even though they weren’t earlier that morning. You’d get excited if you recognized the names of the kids who had the same teacher. In high school, you’d text your friends pictures of your schedule to see if you had English at the same time, and you’d plan to go off campus for lunches together.

Now: If you aren’t given the dreaded “TBA,” maybe you can search your professor’s name on Rate My Professor. But most likely, you have heard of them. You show up to class to find it full of people you’ve never met and, in giant lecture classes, probably never will meet. You introduce yourself to the person next to you in case you miss class one day, but you mostly just take notes and then leave to find your friends somewhere else.

Excitement levels

Then: Once upon a time, you were excited to go school supply shopping and find out who your teachers were, but the excitement pretty much ended there. Summer fun was mourned and the first day of school was a sort of doomsday. Back to school commercials came on TV, and someone changed the channel. Homework was looming over heads, and summer reading was a bore.


Now: No one loves going back to school more than college kids. The freedom of leaving home is exciting as a freshman, but it becomes more and more necessary with each year. CSU is home, and while the break from classes is a nice summer treat, the break makes us miss it. Coming back to campus, grown up apartments and friends makes the reading and homework all worth it.

Collegian reporter Ashley Potts can be reached at or on Twitter @11smashley.