Pokemon: It’s a classic game that almost all of us played on the Gameboy during our childhood. It was the wonderful 2D adventure involving a young adventurer and his super-powered animal companions. It could be both incredibly fun and frustratingly tedious. In the end, it’s a game that most remember fondly. It also parallels the real life events of college in many ways, interestingly enough. Let me count the ways.

  1. Don’t go in the tall grass

At the beginning of the game, you try to walk into the tall grass when the Professor stops you and says, “Don’t go in the tall grass alone!” You need a companion to defend yourself from the wild Pokemon before you can begin your adventure. So you have to make a choice at the beginning. One that will have immediate impact. This is where you decide whether you want Squirtle, Charmander or Bulbasaur (I’m partial to Charmander but this is not the place for that debate). In the world of college, this is where you pick your major. Both are choices that you have to make very early without really knowing what lies ahead. In Pokemon, you may never see that Bulbasaur again if you pick the Charmander, but luckily college gives you the option to make a change if your first choice isn’t quite right.

2. Rock and a hard place

As someone who always picks Charmander, I know the struggles of getting to the first gym and realizing he’s useless against rock types. In college, the equivalent is choosing a major then hitting that first major-specific course that gives you some trouble. In both cases, this is just a temporary roadblock that can be overcome with a little more grunt work. You might have to fight a few more low level trainers or hit the books a little longer but you’ll get over the hump.

3. Group work is a pain

You’re walking along in the game when you get spotted by a trainer who wants to battle. Here we go again. But wait! There are two of them this time. You’re in for a two on two battle. Double battles are like group work in college. You have to get different types to work together, some of them won’t be particularly helpful and usually one just ends up doing the heavy lifting. But there is a benefit at the end so you work your way through it and keep on moving.

4. The order of things

Pokemon is set up in a very particular order. You go through the gyms one at a time and you can’t just go between them all willy nilly. Your path is largely predetermined. The same goes with class scheduling. You have some control over which classes you take and when, but in the end some classes are inevitably going to fall during certain semesters and must be completed before you can move on to different ones. You can’t go battle Misty before you’ve battled Brock and you can’t take that upper level course without the proper prerequisites.

5. The Elite Four

You’ve put in all the time and you’ve beat all the gym leaders but you still have the final challenge: The Elite Four. This is one large test that gets you to your ultimate goal, and at first it seems like it’s way above your level. Your best Pokemon is level 50. Theirs are all level 60.  In college, we call this thesis. You’ve taken the classes and done the work, but now you have the huge paper and presentation looming that seems like way more work than you’ve ever done in your life. But you’ve come this far and the end is close, so you go back and prepare some more before going for it.