Fact or Fiction – Our Handy Guide Busts Some All-Too-Common Myths About College
As you get closer to college-age, you’ve no doubt been subjected to hints and horror stories about what it’s “really like.” But how do you separate fact from fiction so you’re not blindsided once you arrive on campus? Let’s take a closer look at some pesky myths that keep buzzing around.
MYTH: Pick a major before you begin college or you’ll end up on the seven year plan.
TRUTH: Not everybody knows what they want to do right away (in fact most kids probably don’t). You have time to take the core classes and see if any areas spark your interest. A good deadline to shoot for is to declare a major at the beginning of your second year. Don’t panic if later you want to switch—many students do it. If you keep track of your courses and talk to your advisor he or she can help you figure out how to change your major most efficiently.
MYTH: Stick with the people you meet right away; you’ll become best friends.
TRUTH: You’ll connect with your roommate floor-mates and classmates first but that doesn’t mean you won’t settle into different friendships later. Most likely you’ll be spending four years in one place and as you grow and change your relationships will also change. Relax be friendly sit with strangers at lunch visit different campus organizations and join pick-up games of Frisbee on the quad. You might end up really clicking with people you never expected to.
MYTH: Take some easy classes to maintain your GPA.
TRUTH: So all your floor-mates are taking History of Rock and Roll. Well, chances are the class is not as easy as they think. Plan for a high volume of work no matter what the course. Sure you’ll be taking elective classes but take those you think you’ll really like or that are in line with your degree.
MYTH: College is your chance to party all the time.
TRUTH: Since you’ll most likely be living away from home for the first time it’s true that you’ll be able to socialize and spend your time largely how you want to. But the simple reality is that you won’t be able to party excessively and also maintain your grades (or your health).
MYTH: Well then you’ll be studying all the time.
TRUTH: College is a lot more work than high school. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be packing a toothbrush for a 16-week campout at the library. There will still be time to socialize and participate in some cool extracurricular activities. Once you figure out how often your tests are what each professor’s expectations are and which chapters in that biology textbook you can probably just skim you’ll be able to figure out a balanced study routine that gives you some downtime too.
MYTH: You’re going to be living in a closet-sized room so pack light!
TRUTH: Many students do end up living in a standard-size dorm room but that doesn’t mean you’re going to be limited to an 8′ by 8′ home for the next year or two. There are so many options for college living today that you’ll have a number of choices to pick from. Depending on the school you might be able to secure a campus apartment or a luxury dorm room or even live in a cooperative house (see our brief “Beyond the Box: The new faces of dorm living” for explanations of these alternative living opportunities). Keep in mind however that these might be limited to upperclassmen. Also it might be a good idea to live in a dorm your first year where it’s easier to meet people. Lots of students are also opting to live at home to save money these days so feel no shame about doing so yourself.
MYTH: Get ready to gain 10, 15 or 20 pounds.
TRUTH: The so-called “freshman 15” is not inevitable. Colleges and universities provide plenty of opportunities to eat healthy and stay active. Most colleges now even provide organic and vegetarian options in their dining services. Go to the gym take advantage of all the walking paths around campus ride a bike or join an intramural sport. You can develop the right habits early on and maybe you’ll actually lose weight in college!
The bottom line is that college is a time when you’ll be able to make your own decisions. Making the right ones will guarantee a great college experience.