For me, the expectations about who I’d be and what I’d experience when I got to college were all I could think about from the time I started high school. However, when I finally became a college student, I realized many of the ideas I had formed and rumors of college I had heard were totally false. Here are nine common myths about college, debunked.
1. You’ll dress nicer.
I came from a small private high school. This meant uniforms every single day. I always thought that when I was in college, I’d dress the way I wanted to and actually spend time putting together outfits. In my defense, this did happen for about the first week or so. However, I soon realized that making it to that 8 a.m. often meant sacrificing looking put-together. Sweat pants and messy buns seem to be a go-to for plenty of students, so while it’s fun to occasionally dress up for class, it’s better to expect and embrace the fact that you’ll probably end up wearing old t-shirts and Nike shorts most days.
2. You'll keep your dorm clean.
OK, this one really depends on the kind of person you are. It’s a lot harder to keep a clean dorm than you think. Hours of looking at Pinterest for dorm inspirations makes you start to think that you can totally have a room that looks like that, too! For most people, this does not happen. Classwork piles up and naps seem more important than keeping your bed made. Things come up in college and it’s difficult to keep a clean space with a busy life. I would, however, recommend making sure you have a good idea of how to organize everything, even if it’s a little messy. At least you know where everything is.
3. Upperclassmen are intimidating, but you'll never have to interact with them anyway because they'll be in more advanced classes.
My first day of class, I introduced myself to one of my fellow students. I soon found out that that student was a senior. I was intimidated and never talked to the student again. I didn’t want my future study partner to be this big, scary, knowledgeable upperclassman. What if I didn’t understand a basic concept that they learned years ago? Throughout the semester, I realized that interacting with upperclassmen is unavoidable and, therefore, not a big deal. In reality, if you’re in the same class, you’re probably on the same level. No one really cares if you just turned 18 or if you’re going into your fifth year of college.
4. All the other students will be smarter than you.
This one was a major fear of mine when coming into college. I was used to being an honors student in high school, but I knew that that status would probably change once college came around. Every college likes to boast about how smart their students are and often showcases some of those brilliant minds. However, not everyone is like that. Most of your fellow students in your classes are on the same level you are. Just because you read an article about how one of your school’s students built a fancy robot doesn’t mean that every student is going to be smarter than you.
5. The professors will be strict.
I always worried that college professors would be as terrifying and strict as my high school teachers said. This was easily the biggest myth. Not only are the professors totally understanding, they want you to do well. They have hundreds of other students so they don’t have the time to care if you’re five minutes late to class, and most professors even offer extensions on work as long as you show them you’re trying and truly making an effort in the class. Perhaps high school teachers tell students all those rumors to get them to work harder?
6. You and your first roomie will be close.
Like so many people I know, I expected my freshman roommate and I to be quick friends. Living in the same room with someone has to result in being friends, right? Wrong. Truth be told, my roommate and I don’t even talk to each other. This isn’t for any particular reason — we just have nothing in common. I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve had friends tell me horror stories about their roommates puking on the floor after drinking too much, waking up to find their roomie’s random naked hookup in their room and even having major falling outs after deciding to move in with their high school bestie. In reality, living in the same room as someone often results in you disliking them.
7. Everyone will drink and party.
Parties were never really my thing in high school. I knew my brothers drank in college and just assumed that meant everyone else did, too. I was worried I’d look like a total square when I showed up to college and turned down a drink. The first time I went to a party, I was offered a drink from the keg. When I nervously turned it down, everyone was really cool about it. No one pressured me or made fun of me for asking for water. I now know several people who just choose to not drink. No one thinks it’s a big deal and almost everyone respects your choices.
8. You'll find "the one."
Watch almost any movie about college and you’ll find a cheesy romantic plot involving a quirky pair navigating their way through the struggles of college together and finding their own happy ending. This concept is far from the truth. While it’s totally possible to find your future spouse in college, it’s not quite as simple as it looks. The truth is, throughout college you’ll change and mature so much that you’ll find your interests and what you look for in a partner to shift every so often. That’s totally OK. Just because your friends are in serious relationships or your parents found each other in college doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you being single or not feeling ready.
9. You can skip class all you want.
There are few things in life greater than the feeling you get on the first day of class when you hear your professors say that they will not be taking attendance. While this does happen and isn’t uncommon, it doesn’t mean you won’t be held responsible for missing work. If given the option, it is always better to go to class. Sure, you can always keep up with the textbook, but often professors will test on what they lecture and give insight on what will probably show up on the exam. It also encourages a better relationship — they’re probably going to like you more if you choose to be there and show you’re putting in more effort than what is mandatory.
There is no such thing as the “typical college experience,” college is unique for every individual. Before heading off, make sure you disregard every stereotype and expectation you have. It’s a time for growth and maturity, to truly become the person you want to be. Believing everything you hear about college is only going to hold you back from getting the most out of your time there.
Lead Image Credit: Alex Jones via Unsplash