September 29th, 2009 in Feature
A recent study confirms what has been widely known for sometime: that freshman are more likely to pu...More
"What do I need to know before going to college?" This is a question asked far too often as nervous ...More
High school students who have been prepared for college since birth (or at least nursery school) may have been told all sorts of things about college life by their parents, or likely have picked up many preconceived ideas about how it will be from the countless movies on which they they were raised. Unfortunately, most of what freshmen believe about college is just plain wrong. Getting an education isn’t always what new students think it will be. To set the record straight, here are 12 misconceptions about college life and the truth behind each of these notions, because we all wish someone had been brutally honest with us before we went to college.
The Dorms Are Nice
Many freshmen are excited about the prospect of living in dorms on campus. The popular misconception is that living in the dorms will save you money and be loads of fun. The sad fact is that dorms are called shoeboxes for a reason – that’s about how big they are. Not only is the space only as large as most student’s closets were back home, but that tiny space is shared with a roommate, and is about as expensive as a San Francisco loft. One trip to the communal bathroom, with its open showers and fungal floors, and students quickly realize that dorms aren’t cool; they’re not cheap, and they’re a definite forfeiture of privacy. That’s all aside from the inevitably undesirable roommate that you’re going to get stuck with.
College Food is Gourmet
While there are always exceptions, mostly at the culinary schools, one of the greatest disappointments about college is the food. Once that meal ticket is paid for, you can go to the cafeteria to munch out on some really good food any time of day, right? Wrong. The fact of the matter is that college food is about one truck-stop away from prison food, and the cafeteria is certainly no 24 hour diner, either. Oh, and you’re stuck with it, because you paid for it, and it was expensive. The nearest restaurants, no matter how cheap, are three times as expensive because the school pushes their property values higher, thus their rent as well. Your only chance is to scrounge up enough cash to split a pizza with some friends. Just remember that pizza gets old after a while too, no matter how much you love it.
Everyone is Involved With Sororities and Fraternities
In every movie featuring college life, the sororities and fraternities look nothing short of awesome. Everyone is in one; from the jocks to the nerds to the losers, every single student is in the Greek system — in movies. They drink, party and date constantly — in movies. Sororities and frats help you get jobs, better grades, friends, relationships, and overall success in life — in movies. Does this differ in real life? Quite a bit: Pledging a sorority or fraternity is an extremely stressful and time consuming process, in which students subject themselves to the judgement of other students, who aren’t even qualified to cook french fries. During this time students also need to focus on their new courses for the semester, and pledging can divert attention away from studies. Once in a sorority or fraternity, there are dues to pay. For many, what should be an act of brother or sisterhood becomes something more akin to buying a pre-fab group of friends. In reality, quality friends on campus can be had for free, sans judgement, and it may take some time for some students to realize this.
College is Useful Life Experience
One thing college definitely is not is actual life experience. Students are rarely watched closely by anyone, and it’s generally the first time in life that they find themselves on their own and completely free to make their own decisions. However, campus is not anything like the real word, and a college education leaves them no more prepared for life than summer camp did. Technically, summer camp was more pragmatic in many ways. Students leaving school under the delusion that they are fully prepared for the harsh realities that lay ahead of them quickly meet disappointment as they realize the ugly truth. Don’t fall into this trap, be prepared for life after school.
College Will Prepare You For Work
A college education is not job training. When you further your education at college, you are not learning a new trade or skill — you are furthering your education. In theory, this makes you more qualified as a job applicant, but graduates still need training as they enter the workforce, and more importantly, experience. There’s also the issue of finding work. Today’s job market is rough and many graduates are unable to find a job, even if they do know what they are doing, which they generally don’t.
You’ll Get Exposure to Advanced Equipment
Many students are excited about college because they believe they will have the opportunity to learn cutting edge techniques, and have access to advanced materials and equipment related to their intended field of work. In reality, most colleges are pretty far behind on the times, and the materials available to students are outdated by three or four years, if not a decade. Graduates enter the workforce equally behind on the times and will need to work hard to catch up, if they can get hired at all with their lack of currently relevant experience.
Your Major Will Be Really Interesting, and Suit You
Choosing a major is an exciting part of attending college. Unfortunately, some majors are more popular than others and many classes are perpetually full. On top of that, if a student manages to get into one of these impacted majors, the odds of them keeping that major are slim, since most students change majors several times throughout their college lives. They enter the fray with starry eyes and end up choosing the major that had openings available.
There Is No Homework In College
During high school, students are often told amazing tales of the lack of homework in college. This can seem like an exciting prospect, as it gives the impression that you only need to show up for class and take the tests to ace college. In reality, serious students do their homework, even in college. There may not be a worksheet to turn in to prove you did it, but if you do not do the required reading and studies outside of class, you can find yourself in over your head very quickly. That’s discounting the thousands of teachers who actually continue to require worksheets as proof that homework has been done — just like in high school.
You’ll Learn From Experienced Professors
It’s often believed that college courses are taught by professors. In reality, most undergraduate classes are taught by teaching assistants — who have often never taught a class before. Teaching assistants may be graduate students or undergraduate students, and may or may not actually know what they’re doing. Undergrads often need to not only learn the class materials, but also learn who is actually the best to speak to about problems, and will rarely speak to an actual professor until grad school.
It’s Best to Go Straight Into a University After High School
Often, students and their parents feel that it is necessary to go straight from high school into a 4-year program at a university. The surprise comes around junior year when less debt-ridden friends from community college transfer to the university to complete their studies. Community college is a great place to start and get prerequisite courses out of the way for a lot less money. In the end, university graduates in the same majors will receive the same degrees, regardless of where they started out. The difference is that the student who started and finished at the full university will still be driving the same car they had in high school due to the enormous debt they’ve accrued.
You’ll Meet Lifelong Friends at College
While some people may make friends for life at college, it’s the exception rather than the norm. You may have a lot of fun at college, party a lot and meet many new friends. However, when it’s time to start living a real life after graduation, most of these friends will only be Facebook contacts. After graduation, students go everywhere in the world to either find work, or simply to go back to where they came from to begin with. Friends scatter across the globe and with a new career to manage, you’ll hardly have time to stay in touch with them all.
You’ll Make Fantastic Memories During College
It may seem a bit unfair to list fantastic memories as a misconception about college, but it is a harsh reality. Those who buckle down and study — forgoing the party lifestyle — will have memories of the inside of the library and their shoebox dorm room. Those who party, and waste their time and money, usually grow into adults with regrets about the years wasted. They won’t remember much of it, but the monthly student loan payments will be a sore reminder for some time to come. Overall, most college graduates will admit to having many memories of their time spent in school, but for the most part they will be overshadowed by the feeling that they really didn’t accomplish as much as they thought they had. They’ve realized that a lifetime of far more important memories await every graduating student, and that it doesn’t take long for their years at college to blur into the background.