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Myths About College

Ask anyone who graduated from college and they will tell you that they wish they knew a certain piece of insider information before they went to school. College is full of myths and half-truths. Here’s a list of the top five.

Myth 1: You don’t have to know what you want to do until your junior year.

This myth has been perpetuated by counselors and academic advisors all throughout the country, on both the high school and university levels. Although it is true that you don’t need to choose a major until your junior year, you better have some clue about what you want to do before you say yes to that acceptance letter.

If you are an entering freshman, and you have absolutely no clue what major to choose, two years of taking general educations requirements will not magically bestow you with educational clarity. If anything, two years of multidisciplinary exposure will leave you with more questions than answers. Figure out what your goals are before you get to school. You can always change your mind, but if there are certain things that you know you want to experience (i.e. traveling aboard, taking an internship, creating your own major or combining different majors), then you’re more likely to accommodate these considerations if you know what you want to get out of school before you arrive.

Myth 2: You must to choose from a rigid set of majors and class schedules.

College is very customizable. If your major isn’t offered at your school of choice, then try to create it. If you want to take a course on 21st century terrorism, and the class doesn’t appear on the schedule, then make it up. Independent studies are awesome. If your proposed courses of study are approved (usually through the tacit support of a professor or academic advisor), then you can set your own curriculum. You read what you want, write what you want, and your only class time is face to face discussion sessions with your advising professor (usually during office hours). These tailor-made learning experiences can be very rewarding, because they can be created by you to suit your own personal academic interests.

Myth 3:  College is one big party.

Sure you’re going to rage it up while you’re in school, but if you don’t get your stuff done, you won’t be partying for very long. Time management is extremely important in college. If you allot enough time for work, you’ll still have plenty of time to play. Just make sure you know when to say “not tonight, I have to cram.”    

Myth 4: Living on campus is fun.

If you’re an incoming freshman, nothing sounds cooler than living on campus. You get to meet new people and you live just outside your classes. You can stumble out of bed and stroll into your lecture without a problem. If you have the opportunity to live off campus, do so. On campus living is overrated. You could be faced with the dreaded my-roommate-is-a-chump syndrome. If you want peace and quite, you might have to complain to your noisy neighbors. If you want to be noisy, you might have to deal with your complaining neighbors. Live with people who you like and respect, and live off campus. When you live off campus, you can immerse yourself in school when you need to and remove school from your living situation when it’s necessary.

Myth 5: College is too expensive.

College is by no means cheap, but there are endless opportunities for you to secure extra funds while going to school. Fill out FAFSA forms early and religiously. Apply for every grant you can. Exhaustively explore every scholarship option. If your mother’s second cousin was an Eskimo employed by the Coca-Cola Company, then there’s a scholarship out there waiting for you. Make a list of every category that you qualify for (race, class, gender, religious beliefs, athletic abilities, musical prowess, subject and career-specific interests, company-specific employment and so on), and apply for as much free money as you can.

College is an experience that is different for everyone. What’s true for one university may not be standard practice for another university, so make sure to do your research. Ask as many questions as you can before you commit to a particular institution or program. Talk to students past and present, schedule a visit and meet with professors before you decide on a particular school. The more informed you are, the better.