Regardless of what some may say about the “good ol’ days of higher learning,” college remains a trial by fire for that 30 percent who choose this path. For every party, for all the excellent social opportunities, there are countless difficulties that come with earning a degree. And it should always be that way.

The four years of undergraduate education form one of those unique time periods in one’s life. You have complete freedom for the first time, you’re working harder than you ever have before, and your mind is furiously gulping down information at a rate matched only by your infant years. All these come together to create some awesome experiences that you will never have again. Here are our top ten:

1. That feeling like your brain has been pureed – If you’ve made it through a full term, you know what we mean. It usually comes on around midterms and doesn’t let up until a couple weeks after finals.

2. The feeling of being completely overwhelmed – This tends to accompany number one. A few weeks into each term, you start to realize what you’ve gotten yourself into, that you totally should’ve registered for that other professor. A single idea takes root in your mind: you’re in waay over your head and you’re going to have to miss a week’s worth of sleep to get through it.

3. Reading Faulkner – We never would’ve picked up these books if they hadn’t been assigned in our literature classes… but we’re sure glad they were. Difficult books by this and other great authors showed us that the popular authors we were used to were mere insects in comparison.

4. Pretending to like foreign films – Maybe it was to impress a date or just to assert our new intellectual powers, but somewhere along the line, we tried really hard to like puzzling foreign cinema, to decode their alien messages with our stubborn American minds. We’re so glad this inclination went away.

5. Spouting giant words with ease – Remember the first time you used ‘anthropomorphism’ at a dinner party, and it just rolled off your tongue? Yeah, we do, too. If words are power, then ridiculously huge academic terms are like the Hulk.

6. Reading academic journals – No one is under the impression that people outside of academia are reading these things. But of all the people on this planet, we are the extraordinary, tiny fraction who not only read these journals, but maybe understood a miniscule sliver of them.

7. Begging your roommate for his canned tamales – College is filled with times of plenty and times of leanness. Just believe us: if you’re begging for canned tamales, you’ve officially hit the bottom of the barrel.

8. Accepting dates just for the free meal – And speaking of hard times, how about saying yes to a date with a person you really weren’t interested in just so you knew where your next meal was coming from? We’re not sure what category that puts you in, but we’d be right there with you.

9. Writing until you’re too tired to form sentences – 10:30pm. Twenty-page term paper due at midnight. Fourteen pages to go and your synapses are already misfiring.

10. Having your mind blown open – Finally, the one thing that just couldn’t happen in your high school or hanging out with your friends. That one moment when an incredibly smart person opens the curtain for you and totally changes the way you see the world.

So what is/was your favorite part of the college experience? What was the hardest? Share your college musings in the comments down yonder!

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