What was a fact about life that hit you the hardest when transitioning to high school and/or college?

Hell, it was the early-mid 1990s, and my huge university had this dial-in system for registering for classes. Each semester, they varied what block of the alphabet registered on which days. It was something like Seniors with last names starting I-P registered on Monday starting at 5 am, Seniors with last names with A-H on Tuesday at 5 am, and Seniors with R-Z on Wednesday at 5 am. Then Juniors I-P on Thursday at 5 am, Juniors A-H on Friday at 5 am, and so on.

For your first couple of years, it was like 3D Tetris to try and figure out how many possible schedules of classes that fit your degree plan and got your prerequisites out of the way, added up to a full course load of 14-16 hours, and also met any other requirements, because there was a fair chance that all the sections of your preferred class would be full, or that the only one left was at 8 am, or whatever. It got better as you progressed, in that the number of students related to the number of sections in upper level classes in your major was usually lower (i.e. there was always space). But for stuff like intro Calculus or Chemistry? Better be flexible.

Oh man, that takes me back! It would be 1:00AM and I’d be sitting at one of the terminals in the computer lab closest to my dorm, and I would be praying that I would be able to get into the system so I could snatch the last seat of whatever course I believed I just had to get into (or else I would surely die). They gave everyone a time ticket, but a time ticket didn’t guarantee that you’d be able to log in. There was much gnashing of teeth as you waited for an opening. Because the athletes got to register before everyone, I would picture all the football players taking all the classes I was interested in and get mad. Bad times, bad times…

Oh, ours wasn’t even at a terminal. It was one of those terrible phone-tree things, where you’d dial in, enter your credentials (student ID number and PIN, IIRC), and then you had to enter a specific numeric code for each class/section- like it would be “83245” for ECON 302, and “301” for class section 302 at 10 am M/W/F. Then it would say something like “Section 302 is not available”, and you’d have to try again.

Eventually you’d get some sort of half-assedly workable schedule out of it, but in general, everyone had to do some later year rejiggering of their schedules. I imagine if someone was hell-bent on graduating in the least possible amount of time, the system would probably not allow that, as you couldn’t arrange your classes in your first two years just-so to enable that.

That was also (in the spirit of the OP), one of the points when I realized that the world wasn’t fair and didn’t give a shit about me- it would impartially and impersonally do its thing, and whether or not it conformed to what I wanted was entirely beside the point.

I forgot other people had that issue with registration. At my college all of the athletes registered first. So senior athletes then juniors and so on. Even as a freshmen I registered before all of the seniors who weren’t athletes so I always got the classes I needed at the time I needed. In theory it was because I had to be in pre-practice starting at 3 pm and I had morning practice through 8 am so I had less times I could take classes than a normal student.

That pretty much describes my experience. With nobody to push me, I failed dismally in my first semester and was told to take my sorry ass elsewhere. I spent a semester going to night school to get my GPA up a bit and was able to reenter the university on probation the next semester.

The other thing that dawned on me was that I didn’t have to carry my high school perception of myself onward in life. You know, that whole thing with your identity being defined by how others treated you? I could be whomever I wished to be, as very few people at the university knew me, and I was able to let my confidence grow a bit and shuck the crippling shyness. As a result, I started having to drive the girls away with a stick, not that I tried all that hard.

I came from a crazy family, so that was the greatest factor in my life experiences at that age.

In middle school (seventh and eight grades) I had a 3.9 GPA with gym as the only class less than an A. As a bookworm from my earliest memories, I couldn’t throw a ball for the life of me.

The pressure from my father was too intense. The pressure was not to get a perfect GPA, which may be what people would expect, but rather my father couldn’t allow family members to succeed or feel good about themselves. He used the excuse that I was “too proud” of my success, and the abuse each time a report card came home got too overwhelming so in the summer before high school I decided to just lower my grades to get Bs. That apparently was fine with him.

I got reset in university, and started off the same way, with a GPA in my first year that qualified me for an award (with money!) from the engineering department. Unfortunately, as the classes got more difficult, simply showing up to class and listening wasn’t sufficient enough and I had piss poor habits as well the ongoing anxiety related to the conflicting fears of both success and failure lead to a final B+ average.