Three common college misconceptions--and their realities

College Admissions

When it comes to college, everyone has their own ideas of what it will be like, what they will do, who they will meet, and how it will all go. However, there are a few pervasive myths that many college hopefuls seem to hold on to with a passion. I'd like to take a moment to debunk three of them.

College Myth #1: You have to know what you're majoring in before you start college.

Nope. Lies. Although it's great if you have an idea of what you're like to major in before you actually start college, it's totally not necessary for you to have your whole academic future before you step foot on campus. In fact, chances are pretty good that you'll change your mind once you get there, anyway, and end up choosing another major altogether (I speak from experience--I went through five different majors during my undergraduate years). Instead of panicking because you don't know what you want to major in (or freaking out because you're afraid you'll change your mind once you get started with classes in your major), do this: During your freshman and sophomore years, take all the core courses that everyone needs to take (because, yes, those exist, despite what else you may have heard), and take a few other courses in different subjects in which you think you might be interested in majoring. By the end of sophomore year (or maybe even a little earlier than that), you'll be done with the core courses (thereby ensuring you won't be that senior sitting in Intro to English Composition) and you'll likely have picked out a major which you have selected not merely by going through the course catalog, but by actually sampling the courses. 

College Myth #2: College is all about partying.

party timeDon't get me wrong--one of the fun parts about college is definitely the party scene. College is when you get to go crazy, let loose, and dance the night away. However, the purpose of college (despite what Hollywood would have you believe) is not to party. The purpose of college is learning skills and gaining knowledge that will allow you secure employment upon graduation. Parties are fun, but they won't pay the bills. Skipping your reading to go to your neighbors dorm room bash is probably a bad idea (which you will find out the next day when there's a pop quiz on the material--because, yes, pop quizzes still exist in college). And there's no way you'll be able to party until 6am and then score an A on your final at 8am. Those are all urban myths that have been propagated by college students to make their lives sound a little more interesting. College is about studying, learning, and getting to know yourself. Parties are certainly a component. But they're not--nor should they be--the biggest one.

College Myth #3: You have to participate in everything, or you're missing out.

During your first semester of freshman year, you'll be bombarded with invitations, emails, and flyers encouraging you to participate in everything from the student newspaper to campus health educators to acapella groups to student societies. Everything will sound enticing and awesome. You'll want to be a part of everything--and, if you're not, you'll worry that you're that person who's missing out. Thankfully, nothing could be further from the truth. Just like in high school, where you couldn't participate in everything (and you still did fine), in college you'll have to pick out which groups really interest you. If you want to spend the first couple of months of the semester trying out different groups to see which ones fit the best, go ahead--but then narrow it down to the two or three groups you actually see yourself enjoying, and set the rest aside. Your schedule (and sanity) will thank you for it later!

What are some things you've heard about college life that you think are myths? Tell us in the comments!

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