What you should expect from an academic life in a US college is a simple concise statement: What you put into it. Thats right, the old enemy of proactive responsibility is going to rear its ugly head again. How much effort you put into choosing your major and choosing your college based on what needs you have will directly affect the experience you gain from it. The term “academic life” can also be loosely used here, because the experience of college is far from just academic.
Colleges can be public or private, small or large, and close to home or far away. Gage what you need first based on personal preferences then academic ones, because if a college matches well to your personality the majors it excels at will often match that too. If you’re very career oriented then you should choose a school that will offer you the best platform to get started(not necessarily a private, I go to a good public school for engineering). When college is less about the degree and more about focusing on the learning, often times small liberal arts schools will suit your needs. If you come from a small town or large city and enjoy the size of community, look for a small or large school respectively. But choose what matches for you
As for the actual major, I can give you two pieces of advice: Talk to as many students in your prospective majors as possible, and accept the fact that academia changes very quickly. The best way to get a feel for the major you want to take is to talk to students at all steps of it, from freshman to senior. The experience of a major will change drastically from one school to another. Also realize that classes will most likely change before you finish the major at that school. I retook a class, and it restructured just from the previous year.
There’s no easy way to say this, but its impossible to tell you what to expect from academic life in college. It will be a level of difficulty you’ve never encountered if you choose a challenging major, and the experience varies from major to major and school to school. Just know that information is the key is finding the best fit for you. What you reap reflects in what you sow.