College, the place where everyone can be themselves and start fresh. Coming out of high school where you are constantly surrounded by judgmental peers, college can seem like a sweet paradise. A place where not only will you find the group you fit in with but you will make some of the best friends you’ll ever have. This is not all false information, but it is very misleading. Misconception number one:
college friends = forever friends.
Now, this isn’t true for everyone but personally I have found that the friends (more like acquaintances) I have made in my classes are incredible people, but we don’t continue conversation outside of the typical, “how do you think you did on the exam?” or, “was that assignment hard?” these are the people in your classes that you sit next to all semester but never learn their name. Then there are the friends that I have made through clubs which have proven to be slightly more stable because they are there for multiple semesters and their names have become a normal part of life. But I find that I don’t converse with them outside of our regularly scheduled weekly meeting where we do a brief catch-up on the newest happenings and then move on with our lives until next week. However, don’t let this make you lose hope of making amazing friends in college. There are a few (and I mean a small few) that I have truly bonded with and they know the ugliest parts of my life and love me regardless. That is what you need to strive for, not everyone needs to love you and you don’t need to be besties for the resties with every single person you happen to become acquainted with (this was a lesson I had to learn the hard way). As long as you have those few individuals that make college feel a little more like home, you’re all set.
you can be who you are without judgement.
Yes, college students are generally liberal and appreciate the art of humanity more than other generations. However, there are still the select few that are stuck in the older ways and have very conservative views on life. As a member of the LGBTQA+ community, I can speak first hand about some wonderful (sarcasm intended) experiences I’ve had since beginning college which will all be written about at a later date. For right now, I can only express my frustration with the close-mindedness of many individuals. Don’t get me wrong, I fully support any student/faculty member that wants to express themselves with as much flamboyancy as required. I’m just here to break a common notion that you can be yourself without any push back from others. No matter who you are or where you go in life, you will always find an opposing side whether it’s regarding your sexuality/sexual preferences or the type of coffee you drink in the morning. Just continue with caution and yes, be expressive and comfortable in your own skin. But, be kind, courteous, and aware of the audience you are being expressive towards. Many people are still uncomfortable with the notion of open sexuality and I believe that respecting that will help invoke respect from them towards you. With kindness and good will in your heart, go get ’em! Be yourself and be proud of who you are!
freshman 15 is inevitable.
There is a common mindset going into college that you will gain weight whether you want to or not. This is a misconception if I’ve ever heard one. Not only are there many opportunities for you to eat a healthy diet, there are also options made available to you to create an effective exercise routine. Now, this may vary based on what university you are attending; I can only speak from my experience and my location. But back to the topic at hand, the inevitable freshman fifteen that really isn’t all that inevitable. Being away from home and away from your mom (or dad’s) home cooking can not only be hard on your body but also very tempting for your mind. There is no longer someone there to tell you that you can’t eat cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so what’s stopping you? This is where your willpower has to make a strong appearance. Yes, you could eat an entire pizza by yourself at midnight but if you are going to fight against this weight gain stigma, set a diet for yourself. I’m not saying start a diet plan that you will have to follow every second of your life and count the calories (unless that’s something you’re willing to do then go for it!) but for the majority of students out there (myself included), this is way too much effort to put into what you’re eating. Instead, make a schedule that you stick to for your first week at school, then your second week, third week, etc. tweaking it along the way until you have a routine that works with you and your schedule. Set a specific time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and make sure to eat during those times with a few light snacks in between. Now, I’m not a professional dietitian but I am a professional vegetarian college kid who has had to make some serious life changes based on my diet. Along with diet, exercise is an important part of staying healthy. But, if you’re like me, going to the gym everyday is just not for you. I tried, and failed, many times at setting a specific gym time for myself and, if I’m being honest, I still struggle with the exercise portion of life. Walking to and from class is a good way to get light exercise throughout the day while still accomplishing something that must be done (going to class). Another effective way to exercise would be to get involved in clubs that encourage physical activity whether that is joining an intramural sport or getting into yoga. These are good ways of getting your exercise in while having fun! Remember those friends we talked about earlier? Invite them to go to yoga with you or go for a walk with you and maybe they could turn from an acquaintance to a good friend!
class is optional.
WRONG! This is one of those misconceptions that I hear about that I can not believe people think are true. You’re going to college to get an education, how can you expect to get an education while staring at the inside of your eyelids? Although it doesn’t make much sense to me, some people believe this to be true and I respect the thoughts and opinions of others. However, I will warn you now, if you decide to not go to class and “wing it” you will either fail the class or not do well in the class and even if you do well in the class, I can promise you that you will regret it later. Many classes, especially those that are taken during freshman year, are building blocks to much harder classes that you will have to take in the future. Start good habits now by attending class regularly, you will thank yourself later. I have spent some time slacking and not going to class and believe me, even after missing a few minutes of class from being late let alone missing an entire class puts you further behind than you could even imagine. I’ve found myself asking, “how the hell can they fit so much information in the first two minutes of class?!”
do what you love and everything else will fall into line.
Although this is great motivational advice, it misleads individuals into thinking that as long as you’re following the path you were meant to follow you don’t have to work hard, you just have to let it happen. This is a notion that I have found is often depicted in high school guidance counselor offices. I do think that you have to follow your passion to be able to truly reach self-actualization, however, I do not think that all you have to do is put yourself in that path and everything else falls into place. To get to where you want to be in life, it takes hard work and dedication. Nothing will ever just fall into your lap without some work being put into it. Do what you love, be who you want to be, work hard, devote yourself to your dreams and forever appreciate all that you have and one day you will become all you were meant to be.
Well, there you have it, five common misconceptions about college that have hopefully been put into perspective! Moral? Love yourself, be kind to others, follow your dreams, and ALWAYS keep pushing forward.