From roommate horror stories to dining hall food poisoning disasters, it might feel like everyone you know has a scary story or piece of wisdom to share as you start your new life in college. Some of them may be true – like that not many people wear their lanyard past Welcome Week – but there are also a ton of myths floating around that just won’t go away that you should definitely be wary of.
Your dorm is going to be the best place for you to make friends.
While the people that live on your floor are definitely going to be some of the first friends that you make during your time in college, it’s important to remember that you all got placed on the same floor randomly. You might keep in contact with a few of them throughout your undergraduate year and maybe even post-graduation, but you’ll make a lot more friends when you join clubs and organizations that cater to your interests.
You’re behind if you haven’t declared your major by freshman year.
Plenty of people come to college thinking that they’re already behind if they haven’t chose a major yet of if they’re thinking about changing their intended major. But the fact of the matter is that 50-75% of college students will change their major over the course of their time here. Being undeclared isn’t a bad thing – it opens so many doors to opportunities that you might not have considered if you came to college declared.
Use your general education requirements to your advantage. Take intro classes that count as both a gen ed and a major requirement, that way you can explore a major and not feel like the class was wasted if you end up deciding to major in something else.
The only way you’ll have fun in college is by drinking and going out all the time.
Some people like to drink in college and some people don’t. It may be frustrating in the beginning if you don’t like frat parties and drinking because that’s all everyone around you seems to do – but there are people out there who like the same things that you do. You’ll find a group of friends with similar interests as you in time.
You need an internship in college.
Many people have internships during undergrad – in fact, 90% of American University students have them before the time they graduate. But at the same time, many students don’t have time for them or don’t want to go through with one that’s unpaid (which, unfortunately, seems to be most of them). And that’s fine, too.
Internships do look good on résumés, they might be a good reference for job applications, and some programs require an internship for credit. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get a job just because you didn’t have one. They’re a good asset, but they’re certainly not a career or life requirement.
Professors are more concerned with their research or next book than talking with students.
Professors became professors because they were really passionate about something and wanted to be able to ignite that passion in students. Often times, these professors can’t convey the passion that they have for a topic in an hour and fifteen minute class, so when a student comes into office hours to talk about something that they love, they’re never going to want to turn them away.
Office hours are there for you to use and to get the most out of. Your professor will never be too busy with research to chat with you about something you’re struggling with, and they certainly won’t mind having a casual conversation with someone who just wants to say hi.
Academic resources are just for students who don’t get the material.
Sure, students who are struggling with material should definitely use the Academic Support and Access Center to their advantage if they’re worried about their grade. But many students use tutoring sessions and workshops just for some extra practice, or because they want to spend their time studying with someone who is well-versed in the material.
Further, making an appointment with the Writing Center or a stats tutor holds you accountable for spending at least an hour with the subject. It’s a great way to ensure that you do your homework or start your paper when you tell yourself you are going to.
Campus counselors are for students that are seriously unstable.
While it’s highly encouraged to see a counselor if you’re struggling emotionally or you’re worried about your mental health, many students use the Counseling Center when they want an unbiased opinion about a personal situation or when they’re just stressed out after a homework-heavy week or during finals. Making an appointment is super easy, and taking the time to talk things through with someone can be a real relief.
These are the best four years of your life.
While you should absolutely aim to have a great four years during your time in college, you shouldn’t be devastated to leave it behind and open a new chapter in your life when graduation rolls around. You should always be looking forward to the next best thing – not looking back on something that’s finite. The seasons of your life should not necessarily be measured as the best or worst respectively, but instead each season is a time to look forward to that will teach you something new, bring you new experiences, and change your perspectives.
You have so much time to have the best years of your life that trying to squeeze all of them into four years just wouldn’t be any fun.