So as I am rounding out the end of my junior year of college, I am suddenly reflecting on all the misconceptions about college life I had when entering my freshman year. Entering college is one of the biggest life changes you can go through. It is the first time leaving your home, you are almost entirely independent, and you really don’t know what to expect. Going into college I relied mostly on TV shows and movies to teach me about college life, but now I realize that they are mostly wrong. As an experienced college student, here are some of the most common misconceptions about college life and what they are actually like.
One of the big misconceptions about college life is that dorm life equals college life. While most colleges guarantee housing on campus for at least one year, many people leave to live in apartments after that. It is entirely up to you what suits your lifestyle more. I personally love living in my apartment, where I can cook and don’t have an RA telling me to be quiet. But I do miss the convenience of dorm life and having a meal plan. When entering your freshman year, make sure you look into what most students do the next year about housing. And don’t forget to talk to your parents and see which one fits your budget more.
Most people have this strange idea that food on campus is like gray slop that has no real taste to it. I am not sure where this idea came about, but it is certainly not true. I am not sure about all colleges, but most of the colleges I visited had wonderful food. Whether it be buffet or restaurant style, there is bound to be a huge variety of food offered. Most campuses will cater to all kinds of special diets like vegetarian, vegan, and kosher. And some universities will even have regular chains across campus, so even if you don’t trust the dining hall food, there is bound to be food you are familiar with somewhere on campus.
Every movie I have ever seen about college has always revolved around Greek Life. So you can imagine my shock when I learned that Fraternities and Sororities are not the pinnacle of the college social scene. Sure they have tons of social activities, but that doesn’t mean if you are not in a sorority, you will never go out. At most colleges, students have apartment parties, house parties, and if you have a fake ID, you can probably get into the bars. Even if you are not in a sorority, you can probably make it to a few frat parties, just to get the experience. No matter what you are involved in on campus, you will have a social life and it won’t necessarily revolve around the Greek Life social calendar.
Even if you decide to go out, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get drunk. One of the biggest misconceptions about college is that everyone drinks and if you don’t, you won’t fit in. According to NIACC, about 40% of college students aged 18 to 20 don’t drink on a regular basis. That’s almost half! And it is probably best that you don’t drink. Binge drinking in college has been linked to poor academic performance, sexual assault, and alcohol poisoning. If you find friends that support your decision to not drink, you will have no problem staying sober.
On the opposite spectrum of going out is studying. While I do admit I spend a good portion of my time studying, it does not necessarily mean I am locked away in the corner of the stacks avoiding all human contact. You are going to have to study in college … there is no getting around that. But there are so many ways to avoid the library. Make a study group from kids you meet in your class and get together for dinner and a quick study sesh. Or even grab your friends from all different majors and have a study party complete with food, soft ambient music, and a romantic comedy as a reward for all your hard work.
Nothing bothers me more than girls who wear pajamas to class. And a huge misconception about college life is that it is acceptable to wear pajamas all day everyday. As comfy as that sounds, most people in college would agree it is not okay to do. Professors find it somewhat disrespectful that you cannot put effort into fully preparing for their class, and the students around you will definitely take notice of how you rolled out of bed. There are so many ways for you to be cute AND comfy in college that there is no excuse for wearing pajamas to class.
While it does help to have an idea of what you want to do as you enter your first year of college, it is not necessary. There is plenty of time during freshman year to try out different classes to figure out what suits you best. And make sure to meet with an adviser to discuss what majors you are thinking about. Their entire job is to advise you through your college career. So don’t sweat it if you are confused about what you want to major in during your freshman year. Try a little bit of everything and see what feels comfortable to you.
One of the biggest misconceptions about college life is that everyone drinks, does drugs, and only cares about partying. Entering my freshman year, I was fooled by that misconception and focused more on going out than hitting the books. My GPA ended up paying for that mistake. Even if the nightlife is a big part of your college experience, it shouldn’t overrule your priorities. And you will soon learn that not everyone drinks, not everyone does drugs, and not everyone is preoccupied with partying all the time. If those things are not what you want in your college experience, find a social scene that fits your needs.
One of the biggest things to remember when entering college is that you are there for an education. Sure, the social scene and joining clubs are a big part of the college experience, but they should never be your priority. There are tons of misconceptions about what college life is actually like and the only way to 100% prove those misconceptions is to get out there and live the college experience for yourself. What are some common misconceptions about college life that you have? Did you disprove any misconceptions about college life when you got into college? What do you think is the most important part of the college experience?
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