Is this college?: Top 5 disappointments about ASU

Photo illustration by Noemi Gonzalez Photo illustration by Noemi Gonzalez

With graduation right around the corner, it’s been surreal to look back on the great experiences college has given me. But along with those great memories come the expectations that weren’t quite met during my time at ASU. Here are the Top 5 most disappointing things about the college experience.


5. The Library

I imagined college would consist of plenty of all-nighters in a vast library amid thousands of books and my fellow peers. What would ASU’s own library look like? Would it be modern and clean, with glass windows and equations scribbled throughout? Or would it more closely resemble the traditional warm décor and ornate shelves of somewhere like Harvard? Sadly, it was neither of those things. My first trip into Hayden Library proved ultimately lackluster as I descended the steps into the main entrance. After walking through the security scanners and ambling around, I found myself confused and underwhelmed. Where were the books? The rich mahogany shelves? Why was everyone talking so loudly? After finally figuring out I needed to hitch an elevator ride up to the actual books, I stepped out into the library. The shelves were old, the linoleum floors scuffed and the lights flickering and dim. I expected ASU’s main library to be comforting and inviting, a welcome place to study, but I spent vastly more time studying at home than I ever did at Hayden. If you’re looking for a library more in line with your dreams, check out the Design North library for a more comforting and quiet place to study.



4. Downtown Parking

Students who go to ASU’s downtown Phoenix campus don’t always live in the immediate area. So it’s an all too common complaint among commuters that the parking options downtown are limited and infuriating. With metered parking littered throughout the one-way streets that surround the school, the real nuisance is the scattered parking lots that charge six dollars for the day. While the price itself is reasonable, especially when compared with Tempe, it’s the method of payment that causes your blood pressure to rise. With a contraption that seems to come from a different era, patrons are forced to fold up their five-dollar bill and one-dollar bill and shove it into a tiny hole typically reserved for coins. After you’ve spent five minutes jamming your funds into the slot, you’re required to take a metal tool and shove what sections of the money didn’t make it fully in so that no one walking by can steal your money out of the hole. What century are we in? It’s time for the downtown Phoenix campus to upgrade their parking options, or see more and more students migrating toward public transportation.


3. The Light-Rail

Public transportation between Tempe and downtown proved equally as disappointing. I spent the better part of three years ferrying myself between Mesa and Tempe and downtown Phoenix. What seemed exciting, liberating, cheaper and better for the environment soon turned out to be stressful and exhausting. If I wasn’t harassed on the platforms and on the cars by drunk guys and homeless men asking me where I was going, I was ejected onto a platform in Phoenix for half an hour while the train cleaned up the vomit ejected by a fellow passenger. That first year of riding public transportation was exciting, but three more years of watching people fight and get harassed proved to be tiresome. Unlike the New York subway, the light rail is unreliable and doesn’t get you to where you need to go quickly or efficiently.


2. Downtown Eats

Downtown Phoenix is a never-ending hotspot of food and culture to be discovered. However, if you lived on campus for any period of time, you know that the food options directly on campus proved to be underwhelming. The pungent smell of Subway consistently permeates the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, a smell you at first despise but subsequently become used to. Pair that with the closest thing to Mexican food around the school, El Portal, and you have some pretty limited pickings for food. I have a clear memory of my first day of school as a freshman and excitedly exploring my surroundings. Optimistically, I walked into El Portal to have my first lunch as a college student. “I’ll have a chicken quesadilla,” I ordered as I beamed happily around the restaurant. As I sat down with my food, I noticed no one else was in the restaurant, thinking to myself that I must be early for lunch. But as I finished my bland, tasteless quesadilla, with a consistency I can only describe as cardboard, I realized no, it wasn’t too early for lunch. Everyone else was just leaving the campus in search of better food options. “Is this college?” I thought as I wept into my food. Luckily, I would encounter the best Phoenix had to offer over the next four years, but unfortunately, none of it was next to Cronkite.


1. The Secret Garden

A garden in the middle of campus that you can’t find; you have to be shown. The promise of going to the Secret Garden as a freshman was exciting and nerve-wracking. What would I find? Would there be an after-hours party, or even a carnival awaiting me when I got there? Would I make edgy new friends and acquaintances? Not exactly. What I thought would be an adult playground with the promise of new memories turned out to be nothing more than a plot of grass littered with cigarette butts, less of a secret than an afterthought. Once you’ve been, there’s no real incentive to go back. To those of you who haven’t been, visit the Secret Garden, but don’t raise your expectations.

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