Myths About Freshman Year – Part I

University is a far cry from what most first year students imagine. Before starting, their minds are often filled with stories and “facts” that are simply not true, thus creating this mindset that may set them up for failure if they live by what they were told. In that, we decided to compile a list of myths for students heading into their first year, in hopes that they will see past the common misconceptions and dip into their arsenal of reality.

1.Skipping class is ok

We admit it. It can be totally tempting to skip class when there are 200-400 people in one lecture… especially when it’s a Gen Ed that has “nothing to do” with your major. Who’s going to notice? Certainly not the professor. But would you be doing yourself a disservice by skipping? Absolutely.

It can be pretty easy to get away with missing some of those large lectures. Professors tend to post the class notes online, and there are hundreds of people who did go, who you could grab the notes from. But one skip will lead to another, and then another, and then another… and soon enough you’ll be hitting mid-terms and wishing you didn’t miss that one class that went over what would be on the exam.

University ain’t cheap. Don’t waste your money by spending a few extra hours in bed because you “don’t feel like it.” Up and at ‘em!

2.Taking a heavy course load early is a smart idea

If you’re motivated and feel you have the time, you may consider taking more than the average 4-5 classes a semester to lighten your load later, or even graduate early. Kudos to you for being ambitious, but this isn’t always the greatest idea. It’s quite simple… your GPA matters more than your workload. If you can’t handle a heavy workload, your grades will suffer and potential employers will take notice. Taking on more than you can reasonably manage will not impress anyone, and you’d only be hurting yourself.

Additionally, your first year of university is much more than the classes you take. Don’t bog yourself down with more than is necessary. Enjoy the experience and find balance.

3.You’re on your own

Sure, you may have left mommy and daddy and are living on your own for the first time, but you are not IN THIS alone. People often tell first years that they aren’t going to be hand-held through the experience so they’d better figure out how to work solo or they’re in for a rude awakening. Sure, the statement can be meant to put a spring in their step, but no student should go through university thinking they’re alone.

Yes, your professors won’t hold your hand – if you skip class or miss homework, that’s on you – and yes, this is a time when you need to be more independent because life after university requires it, but you will have resources if you are in a bind. If you are struggling with your coursework, there will be tutors and teacher’s assistants (TAs). If you are confused about what classes to take or what direction to go with your career, meet with an advisor to get counseling on your major and learnership options. If you are feeling stressed, there are counselors and student mentors for that. You are NOT in this alone.

4.You’re locked into your major

This is an extremely common misconception, bearing some of the most serious consequences. Some students go into university with their major declared while others choose to start off with some Gen Eds to figure out what they are interested in. This is fine. The problem arises when a student realizes that they aren’t as interested in the subject(s) they chose, and worries that there is no getting out. That’s when the consequences come into play, because there is no reason that you should feel stuck in something that you don’t want to be stuck in.

It is, of course, a bit of a challenge to reconvene and figure out what’s next because some curriculums are more rigorous than others, but there is always a way out. Students change majors all the time with the help of their advisors, and they don’t always have to spend additional time in school to make up for what is lost. If you do, it isn’t the end of the world. This is your life we’re talking about! Plus, future careers aren’t always directly related to what people studied in school.

5.The project and homework can wait

College work is on a different level than high school work. You can’t procrastinate the way you once did or you’ll pay for it later. As you will see on your syllabus, professors assign much larger batches of reading assignments, more essays, and frequent exams. It is not uncommon to see a 100+ reading due by the next class, followed by a 50-question exam on the material – and then the same thing next week!

College homework is no joke, and you may wonder how in the world you can read so much content in such a short period. There is no other solution than to just make the time for it. You’ll retain the information much better than you will if you put it off until the last minute. Procrastination can be the bane of your college existence, and can truly take a toll on your grades. The further you let yourself slip, the more difficult it will be to find your way out. Keep up with your homework and projects so you aren’t scrambling to make up for it later!

Stay tuned for the next installment of freshman year myths!