6 Myths About College Life Incoming Freshmen Should Ignore
Many incoming freshmen have some sort of idea about what they think college will be like – whether from popular culture, social media, college guide books, or stories they have heard from older friends and siblings. However, not all of what you hear and read is true and not all students have the same experience when they go to college. This article debunks some of the common misconceptions and myths about college.
1. You have to choose your major right away
You do not need to know what you want to major in right when you get to college or even what you want to do after college. College is the time to explore various majors and career paths. Many students get to college without knowing exactly how they want to spend their four years there. Rather than stress out about not knowing what you want to do, take as many different classes during your freshman year as your college offers and your schedule and budget permits. You are more likely to be able to narrow down your interests, focus on a career path and choose a major as you take more classes and have more experiences. Also, when you declare a major, it is not necessarily set in stone. You often can change your major, and many students end up doing so. Depending on what the college allows, some students change their major more than once.
2. You need to join Greek life to have a social life
Many incoming freshman may feel they need to join a fraternity or sorority to have a social life in college, especially if Greek life is a big part of the school’s social structure. However, Greek life is not for everyone. Some students avoid it due to the cost or time commitment involved, or because it is not their type of scene. Fortunately, Greek Life is not the only way to have a positive social experience in college. There are so many other opportunities, extracurricular activities, and clubs that offer an opportunity to meet new people, expand your social circle, and develop friendships in a setting that may be more aligned with your interests and goals. Even if you decide that Greek life is not for you, many of the events held by fraternities and sororities are open to everyone on campus, which gives “non-Greeks” the opportunity to socialize with members of fraternities and sororities if they want to.
3. Professors will think you are stupid if you ask for help
Contrary to what you might think, many college professors are approachable and not focused only on research, graduate students, or their careers outside of the classroom. While it is common to feel that your professors “don’t want to talk to you” or “will think you are stupid,” many professors really do make a conscious effort to help and support their students and make themselves available. However, you will probably need to take some initiative to get to know your professors, usually through their office hours, because they often have many students, particularly those who teach large introductory classes, as well as other academic or professional obligations. No matter how intimidating they may seem, most professors want their students to succeed, respect their desire to learn, and welcome their questions. When you get to know them, they can provide valuable guidance and direction on your college career, help if you are struggling in a class, and perhaps become or help you find a mentor.
4. You are going to gain the “freshman 15”
Most of us have heard about the “freshman 15” – the average 15 pounds students purportedly gain during their first year of college. But not everyone gains the 15 pounds during freshman year or has to. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a renowned institute within the National Institutes of Health, the average weight gain among first-year students is around 2.7 pounds. It’s true that some freshmen develop unhealthy habits for a number of reasons -- being on their own for the first time and not being subject to their families’ schedules, being in a new environment, or the late nights and stress of freshman year. These habits can cause students to lose as well as gain weight. Yet, there are many ways to establish a healthy lifestyle away from home.
While you can eat that occasional slice of pizza, don’t make it a habit. Instead, look for healthy dining options, control your portions, and try not to skip meals so that you are not as inclined to snack throughout the day or late at night. Also, instead of taking the campus bus to classes, get your steps in and walk to class. Most schools even have free fitness centers with gyms and workout classes you can take advantage of. If you establish and stick to good habits and take care of yourself, you should be able to avoid the “freshman 15.” Just keep in mind that it might take some time to develop habits that work for you.
5. You have to party all the time
You might think that going to college is one continuous party and that you have to party all the time to fit in. While college may provide an opportunity to socialize at all hours, hang out with friends or go to a party or bar, not everyone does this and not everyone wants to. Like everything else at college, you need to find the right balance for you. If you do enjoy socializing, you will find the opportunity to do so at most colleges, but you should balance that with your course work, extracurricular activities and any part-time job. And, if partying and going out is not your idea of fun or the best use of your time, that is okay as well. There are many other ways to make friends, fit in and be successful in college.
6. You and your roommate will be best friends
You might think that you and your roommate will or should be best friends to have a good living experience. Whether you choose your roommate or go random, the reality is, you just may not click or may not be compatible. While some roommates become good friends or even best friends, many do not. You do not have to be friends with your roommate, but you can still have a good relationship with your roommate, where you respect each other’s space and privacy – and communicate rules if needed. However, don’t worry if you and your roommate are not friends because there are so many opportunities to make friends outside your dorm room, whether it is with other students in your dorm, classes, clubs and extracurricular activities.
While many students enter college thinking “My college life will be perfect” or “College will be the best four years of my life” because of how social media, popular culture, or others portray the college experience, in reality, this is not at all true. No college experience is perfect, and most students face many of the same challenges at some point in their four years. College can be a challenging experience but also rewarding and memorable. Hopefully, this article has dispelled some of the common college myths and will make you feel a little bit better about the next exciting four years of your life.