We all have our own ideas of what college has in store for us, courtesy of movies and TV shows, friends, and parents. Four years away from home can sound both wonderful and intimidating at the same time, but that's what makes college, well, college. You've certainly heard a few things about college life, and you may be asking yourself, is it all true? We're here to clear up any confusion.
Myth #1: Pulling an all-nighter is the only way to get everything done.
Nothing could be further from the truth. You’ll find that in college, the most valuable skill to master is time management. When your professor hands you the syllabus that first day of class, be ready to pull out your weekly planner (which you definitely should use!) and make note of when assignments are due. Even more importantly, make note of when to start them so you can avoid scrambling to finish a 10-page paper the night before it’s due. Unless you work best between the hours of midnight to 6am, you won’t get the results you want.
The worst thing you can do for yourself is pull an all-nighter before an exam. At ArborBridge, we tell students to get a good night’s rest before an SAT or ACT, and the same certainly applies for exams in college. Sleeping well allows your brain to effectively encode and store the information you have studied, making it easier to recall that one question you might have struggled on if you decided to pull an all-nighter. In short, while pulling an all-nighter to study may seem like the only way to ace the test, it’s not. Instead, organize your time wisely and study in increments a week or two before the test date—students retain more information and perform better on exams using this method.
Myth #2: You should go to the most prestigious college you are accepted into.
You should choose a university because you think you’ll feel most comfortable there and you see yourself growing from the experience it will offer you, not because it’s ranked top 3 in U.S. News & World Report. There is a college or university for everyone, and one of the toughest parts is knowing which one suits you. But as long as you remember that you know yourself best, deciding on a school seems far less daunting.
Myth #3: Take the classes that your friends are taking.
Unless your friends are on the exact same academic track as you, avoid registering for classes just because your friends registered for them. This is an important step in maintaining a balance between academics and social life—especially if you’re easily tempted to talk to your friends during class, save yourself the trouble. In big lecture halls, professors might not know your name, but they can tell when you aren’t paying attention and they won’t call you out on it. This might seem like a good thing, but you have to be ready to hold yourself accountable for the material you missed because you decided chatting with your friend about what happened last weekend was more important.
Myth #4: College kids stay up ‘til 2am and sleep in ‘til 2pm.
Sure, some do, but many don’t. It’s all about getting on a schedule that will keep you at your healthiest. If you’re most productive at 8 in the morning, that’s fine. If you feel more energetic late at night, that’s also fine. Just don’t force yourself to stay up late or sleep in because you think that’s the norm.
Myth #5: Campus card money is just Monopoly money.
It’s actually whoever is paying your college tuition’s money, so spend and save it wisely.
Myth #6: You have to figure out your major your freshman year.
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about college, and one that I regrettably believed when I started my freshman year. I remember feeling as if I had to find out exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life the second I chose my classes. It was an incredible amount of pressure that I knew I wasn’t ready for. Little did I know that I didn’t even need to worry about it.
College, especially freshman year, is a time for exploration and experimentation. Register for classes you would never have thought imaginable, not just the classes you have to take. Who knows what you’ll find out about your academic interests? One thing is for certain: you’ll discover more if you aren’t tied down to one major and the classes it offers.
...On that note, you have to major in something practical.
We hear it all the time: “The world needs more engineers and mathematicians.” True, but that shouldn’t affect your major decision, unless that’s where you believe your personal strengths lie. Don’t allow the “practicality” of a major lure you in—oftentimes students waste their time (and money) attending classes they hate, with the rationalization that when they graduate, they’ll get a solid job. Spoiler alert: what you major in doesn’t really have that much of an effect on what kind of jobs you are offered. So, use these four years to study something you genuinely find enjoyable, and you’ll notice that the pieces will fall into place.
Myth #7: You don’t have to go to class because lectures are provided online.
This especially applies to any of you who are planning to attend a larger university. Oftentimes students skip class and wait for their professors to post the lecture slides online because there is little accountability in bigger lecture halls. In a class of 500, it’s highly unlikely that your professor will know you by name or take attendance. But don’t be that student who overindulges from this sudden change from high school; no matter what getting out of bed and going to class is always the best option. The lecture is almost always more than the PowerPoint slides, and you could miss crucial material that might be on the final exam.
Myth #8: That phrase, “College is the best time of your life!”
Okay, so it's not exactly a myth. College really is an amazing experience, but it probably won’t be the single greatest time of your life. Going into college with the expectation of it being all fun and games every day is a sure way to be extremely disappointed. It’s important to manage your expectations and maintain a healthy balance between academics and social life, if you want to make the most out of college. You'll be surprised how fast four years fly by!