Imagine this, you’re at the end of your senior year, colleges have been chosen, and the real preparation begins. Although the excitement of the up coming years is at it’s highest peak, nerves begin to kick in and the apprehensions about college come into light. For some, family members, friends, or the occasional frantic Google searches may soothe those apprehensions. None-the-less no matter the person, being nervous about college is NORMAL and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. The point of this article is to hopefully easy some of the scattered minds of up and rising college students, because college is all about new experiences and coming in with a calm and open mind can add to those. College in a nutshell is the four years of a young adults life that consist of life long friendships, hard work, and long lasting memories, and no ridiculous myths should change that. Therefore it’s time to do a little myth busting.
1) All freshmen gain the infamous “Freshman 15”.
Before every freshman enters college they will here one thing or another about the so-called “Freshman 15”. Which, for any of you who haven’t heard of it yet, is when every freshman will gain 15 pounds during their first year. For some, this is a fear that terrifies students during their first year, and for others it is and always will be a myth. Not to worry, for the most part the “freshman 15” IS a myth. Not because people don’t gain any weight at all, but very few people gain the entire fifteen pounds. Mostly because the majority if not all colleges provide some way that will allow students to stay active after high school. Now this could come up in a couple different ways, maybe it’s through a school gym, intramural sports, or just activities available to students throughout the school year. With all of these options it is very possible to gain absolutely no weight during college, but you’ll have to work for it to keep it away. On the other hand, some people actually lose weight in college not gain it. College is a big adjustment period for young adults because it’s a complete change in lifestyle, and for some that in it self can keep away the freshman 15. Bottom line is, there are many other things that should have your attention before college and gaining fifteen pounds shouldn’t be one of them, like anywhere else you just have to eat right and exercise.
2) Dining hall food is terrible…unless you’re willing to live on pasta.
Probably the second biggest concern when going off to college besides living with a roommate is leaving moms cooking. For years we become accustomed to having dinner made for us every night, sometimes they are even made up of our all time favorite foods. Now, college sets in. Leaving you on your own without mom there to cook for you every night. So instead you now have to head over to a cafeteria that won’t always have your favorite foods. This is the assumption of most college students when they first start to think about life on campus. However, this is not always the case, bottom line is the food is what you make of it and not everything is going to blow you away but everything won’t be terrible either. Especially at JMU food is nowhere near an issue. With being ranked number two in the nation for food, it’s safe to say that there will always be good food floating your way. That also being said, the quality of dining hall food varies from college to college, so eating on campus before deciding is a BIG to-do. Regardless of which school that’s feeding you, you’ll always be able to find something you like and if that doesn’t work pull out an old school college trick and just eat ramen (don’t worry that’s a joke).
3) All college students are poor and starving.
So the rumors about college typically consist of three stereotypes, college kids play to hard, drown in school work, and are poor and starving. For now though lets just focus on the last stereotype, that all college students are poor and starving. Whether or not you have to pay for your college tuition alone or with parents, college is still expensive. You always need this book or this packet for a class, and not to mention grocery shopping and rent money if you live off campus. However, despite these college expenses not all college kids are broke. Granted no college student makes nearly as much money as someone with a real full time job, but there are plenty of opportunities to avoid the stereotype of being poor. I’m saying this because most students do have some sort of job, especially after freshman year, but for those who only work during the summer the best thing to do to is budget wisely. Even if you don’t really have time to work during the year you have 3 months every summer to save up as much money as possible for the upcoming year. As it has already been stated, budgeting will limit the stereotype of being poor and starving you just have to find what way works best for you.
4) You need a car on campus.
By the time we all turn sixteen, we get our very own license, which comes with the freedom to escape onto the road in our cars with the music blaring. With this freedom comes a certain attachment to our cars, and now that it’s time to go to college it’s also time to say goodbye to our cars. For most colleges and universities freshman are not allowed to have cars on campus, and most people shudder at the thought of this I know I did. I thought I would be stuck on campus all the time never being able to leave, but as time went on I realized that was not the case. First of all, you do end up making friends that will have cars so when you really need to take that midnight Wal-Mart run for medicine most likely someone will be up to help you out. Also we interviewing a few friends about this their response to not having a car was “it doesn’t really matter if you have a car or not because with the right people to talk to and the right commitment you can walk anywhere”. Which is true seeing as how most towns build up around the colleges close to them. Also some schools, like JMU, have bus systems that are accessible to students, but if that doesn’t work for you then just get a bike. Overall you don’t need constant access to a car in order to escape campus for a few hours, just be smart and explore your options.
5) In order to get good grades, you’ll have to live in the library.
College is about balance. Balance between social life and academics is important and IS possible. You won’t have to spend all of your days only studying. In order to get good grades you need to PLAN. Meaning that if you have a project that’s due in at the end of the month, don’t wait until two days before it’s due to start working on in, and if you want to go on a trip for the weekend get your work done beforehand instead of putting it off. Also if you’re starting to fall behind in a class, get help. There’s nothing wrong with visiting a tutoring center, and the more you understand the less you’ll have to work yourself to death in the library. All in all, time management is the key to success in college, because yes it is about getting a good education, but it’s also about the experiences you have along with the relationships that are formed. In order to accomplish both of those things you have to do what you’ve got to do in order to do what you want to.
6) It’s really hard to connect with professors.
The infamous college professor, the scary professors who talks too fast for you to write notes, who doesn’t answer your “stupid” questions and who refuses to help you at all. Well I hate to burst any bubbles but those types of professors are very rare. More than likely every professor wants you to succeed, even with the most intimidating professor teaching that class that you may be needed a little extra help in, no one should be scared to ask questions to them. Go visit a professor for help and you may be presently surprised at how open and kind they really are. Overall professors can be very open as long as you use the resources that are provided for you. They may come off as unapproachable at times but just take that extra hour to go to office hours and see a world of difference. Don’t FEAR PROFESSORS they are normal people just like us, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and get help from professors.
7) Finals week; a.k.a “Hell Week”.
The infamous hell week of college…final exam time, the only time all year where you will spend more time in the library then your room, and when you have nothing to do but study and take tests. When I first started college I was terrified for finals all semester, but when the time came I was pretty surprised. My upper class men friends told me to not stress and just study in advance and ill have no troubles, well being as scared as I was I of course studied for like 2 weeks straight before hand. Finals aren’t as completely horrifying as everyone thinks, you just have to be smart and avoid cramming which is where most people go wrong. The majority of college students think cramming for finals is the only way to do it, but that’s not the case. By study for just a little bit each day for a couple weeks before hand it allows for less stress and more preparation. Also don’t get behind during the year, if you have homework actually do it and don’t put it off even if it’s not going to be graded. Overall “Hell week” is only going to be terrible if you make it that way by procrastinating, but if you just do a little bit of time management it’s not as bad as it seems.
8) Roommate compatibility forms are key.
Roommate. Someone you will share everything with, and yes that includes a small room that allows for little movement and no privacy. Yes, it is true that you won’t get a lot of alone time while living in a dorm room, but you will spend almost all of your time with your roommate. So how do you make the decision to live with someone before you meet him or her? The key is every college’s “E-harmony: roommate edition” which is pretty much a form where you write out every thing from when you go to bed to religious beliefs. These forms are a huge help when finding another person to live with, however these are NOT the only research you want to do before agreeing to live with someone. Do a little background session on them before hand. For example, a hall mate of mine who met her roommate through the compatibility form got along great with her at the beginning of the year. What she couldn’t see from the sheet however, is that her roommate had no intention of ever being in the room, leaving her lonely the majority of the time. Now this isn’t meant to be scary, finding a roommate is fun you just have to make sure you check all the angles not just trust the forms that are provided online.
9) Best friends should never room together.
Before even thinking about roommates for college everyone has probably told you that living with a friend, especially a best friend, is a terrible idea. They’ll tell you that by the end of the year you’ll hate each other and not be friends anymore, but I’ll have to disagree on that one. Bottom line is, not everyone can be compatible when it comes to living together, which is true but the flip side is that not all friends can’t live together either. Through interviewing a few other friends that have experienced both sides of this situation, I found that some people agree that friends shouldn’t live together, while others have said it is the best thing they’ve ever done and are closer now because of it. One friend even said “we have never gotten along so great before, we used to just be best friends but now we are just like sisters and it’s nice to have someone that can relate to your past as well as your present and future”. There are many pros and cons to living with someone who knew you before college, and some people like the familiarity but others use the new atmosphere to recreate themselves. Therefore this myth differs from situation to situation, and although most of the time this is a good rule to follow, living with high school friends or even a best friend isn’t a bad idea it just depends on the two personalities.
10) If your roommate dies, you get all A’s.
While interviewing friends and looking up a few myths online this myth kept showing up, and honestly I had never heard of it before but apparently it’s a big deal. Even though a lot of people seem to have heard of this myth it is completely false. If your roommate dies you do not get all As, however some schools do have a more “laid back policy” meaning that you will have a little bit of wiggle room but by no means will you get free As. Another situation I realized was that every school has a couple different versions of this myth, and at JMU the rumor was if a bus hit you or your roommate then you’d get free As. Once again this is just simply false, you have to work hard for your grades no matter the circumstances.
11) You won’t get homesick.
When coming into college it doesn’t matter if you can’t wait to leave home or are struggling to pack your bags, you will get homesick at some point. Even for me, someone who was ready to leave home for months before hand has gotten homesick occasionally. Now I’m not saying that everyday you’re going to miss being at home because quite frankly you start to have fun and enjoy your independence. Also even the students that come into college completely torn apart and homesick to the extreme finds their place on campus and adjusts to this new life. All in all, whether or not you become homesick depends on your overall personality and how far from home you actually are, because if you’re only half an hour a way compared to twelve then you will get to see you family more often. Even if you’re not the type of person to get homesick, you will miss your parents at some point in time even if it isn’t often, but no matter what the case keep in touch with your parents because even if you’re not necessarily missing them I can grantee they are missing you.
12) Long distance relationships can work.
Nationally 32.5% of all long distance relationships are in college. More then likely forming from a long-term high school relationship, and believing that continuing a relationship in college will be easy. However, on average it takes about 4.5 months for a long distance relationship to fall apart. Now these statistics aren’t meant to depress anyone or talk them out of staying with their current boyfriend/girlfriend, it’s just to give you the facts. From someone who has been in this situation before, I can tell you from experience it’s not easy. People will change through their experiences they have in college, memories will be made apart, and quite frankly if experiences aren’t shared, people will grow apart that’s just life. I’m not saying that every long distance relationship won’t work, but it takes time and true commitment that a lot of people just don’t have at 18 or 19 years old.
13) You have to go Greek.
Coming from the south I understand the pressure to “Go Greek”. How it may be hard to realize that just because you aren’t a part of a sorority or fraternity doesn’t mean you’ll never have any friends. Although many people feel that in college in order to have a good time you have to be in Greek life, that is just simply not the case. On average only 20% of students at a university are apart of Greek life according the “National University Rankings”. This means that the majority of college students are not associated with a fraternity or sorority, again that’s 80% of people who are considered a “G.D.I”. There are always other options to get involved on campus and make your mark at your school. There is everything from Student government, to club sports, to interest clubs (i.e. outdoors club), to professional clubs associated with your major, and so many other organizations that are available if you just look for them. No matter what your passion is, find it at your college join clubs and get involved, and remember you don’t have to go Greek unless you want to. You wont get any less of an experience than someone who is in a frat or sorority. That being said there is also nothing wrong with being apart of Greek life that’s something you want to do, not feel like you have too. Greek life is meant to be there if that’s what you want to do, and if you want to immerse yourself in it great and if not that’s great too. There’s always something for everyone.
14) Greek life is an endless toga party.
In every college movie you’ll ever watch at some point in the movie there will probably be some fraternity boy dressed in a toga doing a keg stand or getting really wasted. These movies have caused a negative and inaccurate portrayal towards not only fraternities but sororities as well. Greek life isn’t about partying all the time; it’s about a bond that people share through the organization. Also the fraternities and sororities give a lot back to the school, community, and charities through their philanthropies. For example, one sorority Zeta raises money for breast cancer every year through fundraising and a 5K during breast cancer awareness month, but that’s just one example. A fraternity here at JMU heard of brother in the Maryland version of their fraternity who had cancer, and raised money through a cookout and selling t-shirts to help pay for his chemo. Despite what most people think Greek life isn’t about partying every weekend, that’s just a bad reputation given to them by Hollywood. Along with the typical stereotype, many people assume that they don’t care too much about grades but in fact that’s the completely opposite. If you’re in a sorority or fraternity and your grades start to slip, you’ll be required to go to mandatory study hours until your grades are brought up. All in all don’t judge a book by the cover someone else made for it. Yes there is a party scene with Greek life just like every other organization, but that’s not the only thing they do. So remember that next time you’re walking past Greek row.
15) The more extracurricular activities you do, the better.
During high school, life was always a balancing act whether it was between sports, a job, your family, or the excessive amount of clubs you were in there was never a moments rest. Parents, and teachers drilled into our heads the fact that in order to get into college you don’t only need to get really good grades, you need to participate in everything under the sun as well. Even though this might not have seemed like a big deal at the time, this mentality sticks with you even when you get to college. Now you have no one cares or needs to see how many clubs you were in, or how many sports you played, because in college it is all about the grades. But no one seems to understand that fact, when we get to college we are so used to being busy that when the everyday practices and meetings stops we are baffled and crazed with all this new free time we have. So we again, go crazy at student organization night, and fill our schedules up to the max with on campus organizations, and intramural sports. This is a great way to make more connections, and being a part of life on campus but don’t stretch yourself too thin. A lot of your free time will now be used for studying and any actual free time you have you aren’t going to want to run from meeting to meeting. Extracurricular activities in college are important, just not for the same reasons as they were in high school. Now they are a stress reliever instead of a resume booster. Not many extra activities you do in college is going to make you look better on a job application, although they may help out a graduate school application depending on the activity. So don’t overwhelm yourself with too many activities, find the ones that fit you the best and give them your all, because clubs are important, but so is your GPA.
16) College is like the movies
The “American Pie series”, movies that portray college is an all-time on going party. Never having to really worry about school work, and allowing for the craziest stories that make people go wild craving for a life like that. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but college isn’t like the famous “American Pie” movies. You will actually have to do work, sometimes even on Saturday nights. College movies leave out all the hard work that gets done within those four years, and just show that all we do is drink and mess around. Granted you won’t have to live in the library and college will be one of the best times of your life, but it is hard work. The saying “work-hard, play-hard” will never be more accurate then when you’re in college. No matter how fun or exciting it gets though, school work will always have to come first if you plan on graduating, which should be on everyone’s to-do list.
17) College is a constant party, and you can do whatever you want.
Despite what many people might think, you can’t get away with everything in college, because believe it or not there are still rules in college. You can’t do whatever you want and you can get into trouble, however you do still have your independence. It isn’t going to be like home where someone is constantly wondering where you are or who you’re with, you have the freedom to come and go as you please. No one is going to tell you when to come home or to do your homework instead of hangout with your friend, that’s all up to you now. However, there are rules against other things, which can lead to strikes, community service, or even suspension. By this time in your life it shouldn’t be too hard to determine what is right and wrong or what’s smart and what’s stupid. So just be smart, and work hard and you’ll have no trouble throughout your college years.
18) Your major is what decides your career.
Go to college. Major in something that’ll get you a good job. Get that perfect job. Live happily ever after. It’s the same song we’ve heard all throughout high school, it’s the scheduled life plan that tells you that whatever major you pick in college is what will decide the rest of your life. Well this is not the case. In fact 27% of college students don’t actually have a job related to their major according to FastWeb.com. Just because your sophomore year of college you decide to be a communication major doesn’t mean you won’t turn out to be some CEO or a teacher somewhere. Granted I know either of those sounds like a stretch but that’s the point. College is made to help you prepare for the real world not decide what you’re going to do in it, that part is up to you. You can almost go into any field you’d like after college with the right networking and skills. Unless of course you want to go into the medial field then your major may decide what you’re going to do with your life. On the plus side if you get halfway through a Pre-Med track and decide that it isn’t for you anymore, you can change your mind as many times as you want. Not everyone knows exactly what the want to do with their life from the start, because lets face it that’s a BIG decision. Your degree will be a stepping-stone but you still have to work hard and make the right connections in order to succeed.
19) College is so much harder than high school.
All our lives we go to school to become prepared for college and the real world. In middle school, teachers take you on “field trips” to college campuses even though college is the farthest thing from what you’re actually thinking. In high school college is shoved down our throats from the moment we step on school grounds. We are encouraged to visit colleges earlier and earlier; we are pushed to take all the possible AP classes we can in order to “get the feel” of what college will be like, but the truth is none of that matters past the application process. The AP classes we take are supposed to give us a taste of how hard college will be in order to prepare us, but it doesn’t do that at all. The truth is college isn’t harder than high school, to be more accurate replace “harder” with “different”. College education is completely different from a high school layout, whether it is styles of teaching, class schedules, or workload you name it. The problem is many incoming college students struggle with adjusting their old study habits to adapt to the new way of life, because when a professor tells you to read an article you don’t skim it you actually have to read it and possibly even take notes. In some cases college may even be easier for the people who would prefer to only have three tests and no papers or projects. Basically, college is more individual based meaning that you’ll do more work outside of class but you won’t have just busy work, everything will have a purpose for learning the material. Also no more six-hour a day school period, now you can create your own schedule, allowing for more free time at night or morning or even just throughout the day, it’s whatever fits you the best. So next time someone says college is harder than high school, don’t get intimidated, just remember to adjust your style of study and keep yourself focused.
20) College lasts four years.
Whenever college is brought up in conversation, it’s always something like “they will be the best four years of your life” or “I remember those four years like it was yesterday”. Although college used to typically only four years, things have changed. Now more than “58% of college students take six years or more to graduate” according to FastWeb.com, and lets face it not everyone is not going to finish in four years. We all know that an extra year or two of college sounds crazy now while we are just at the beginning, but lets think about this for a second. Not only are classes becoming harder to get into pushing students back, but also some programs are now requiring 5 years without question. At JMU for example, three programs, engineering, education, and P.H.E.E.T, (which is becoming a P.E. educator) require a definite 5-year program. It’s not as common anymore for students to only attend college in four years; everyone has a different time span whether it be longer or shorter than that depends things such as programs, classes, incoming credits, and just life events that may slow down the process. Nonetheless no one should be so set on finishing in four years, because if you don’t its perfectly normal.
Now take a second to think back to the scenario that was created at the beginning of this article, with the anxious college freshman that is just at the start at an entirely new experience. Take that scenario and fast-forward a year. Who do you see now? Is it someone who isn’t so anxious anymore, someone who has found a place among their college peers? After living through the insanity of your first year of college, anxieties towards small details such as these 25 myths will seem childish, however they are again worries that everyone has. Although the idea of college is exciting and nerve rattling all at the same time, that’s part of the experience. Therefore living through it and seeing everything through your own eyes is the only way to find out what works for you and what doesn’t. This article wasn’t written just tell you a few myths about college life, it was meant calm a few nerves in order to create an open mind ready to meet the up coming challenges head on. College is a time and place where discovers about others as well as yourself are made, and even if don’t find everything you need right away give it time and it will. Because at the end of the day, there’s a time and a place to figure everything out, and that’s called college. Nonetheless, I think it’s now safe to say these myths are officially BUSTED.
“Collegebound Network.” 10 Biggest College Myths Debunked. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.
“Long Distance Relationship Statistics.” Long Distance Relationship Statistics. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.
“National University Rankings.” National University. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.
“6 of the Biggest College Myths, Debunked.” Teenvogue Content. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.
“10 Completely False College Myths.” Fastweb. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.