College has been an expectation for me since I started kindergarten over thirteen years ago now. I am a first-generation college student and like all parents, my parents wanted better for me. They believed that a college degree would/will be my ticket into a life with less troubles than their own. I have learned that college is a lot different than I had expected in my first semester.
First, my high school teachers would continually tell me that professors would be harder on me than they were and offer me less support.
Disregarding my math classes, I would say the rest of my classes are on par with my high school classes. Most of my professors this semester have tried to get to know me personally and warmly invite me to come to their office hours should I need help. Not to discount my high school teachers, who were very supportive. However, I was pleasantly surprised that in college (most of) my professors care about my success as well.
Second, growing up in a generation where college is an expectation and student loan debt has become a norm like a house mortgage, I believed that attending college would set me back financially.
There are many ways to graduate from college without any substantial debt. First, everyone should apply for FAFSA to receive federal and state grants; it’s literally free money. Second, choosing a college that is right for you financially is helpful. SCSU is one of the most affordable universities around the country. Third, there are millions of dollars in scholarships given out every year. Scholarships come from the university itself, to the SCSU system, as well as national ones you can apply one for. Fourth, working while attending school can cut down debt. If you are able to secure a campus job, you might even be able to get paid to get your homework done. Regardless, there are many ways to ensure you don’t leave SCSU with a diploma and a mortgage size student loan. I recently sat down and ran the numbers and with combining all four options, I will be able to graduate with no debt.
Third, continuing with the theme of the last myth, I was told that while some may work in college, the students who do well don’t have the time to work.
Although checking grades isn’t as easy as in high school, I still know that I am doing very well with the scores given back to me. Currently I am working four jobs. I am working just under 30 hours every week on top of school. Working while attending school forces the life lesson of prioritization to be learned. Also, for students paying for their education themselves, it makes the education matter more causing one to care more about how well they do in their classes rather than if they were getting it for free.
Fourth, college classes require more work than high school courses.
It is true that I spend more time completing homework and studying outside of class. Although, it is important to remember that I am spending a lot less time in class than I did in high school. In high school, I would spend roughly 6 hours actively engaged in class, or 30 hours for the average school week, not adding in homework time. For the average student taking 15 credits, class time amounts to 12.5 hours in class every week. Unless you are spending more than 2.5 hours every single night on homework and studying, you are spending less time than you did in class in high school.
Fifth, between family, friends, teachers, advisors, and college admission reps, I was told that living on campus was a necessary part of making friends and enjoying my college experience.
Being able to live at home, and better study abroad opportunities, were the deciding factors for my decision to attend SCSU over St. Ben’s. When I heard the news the next year’s freshmen will have to live on campus, I was very disappointed. Being able to live at home was the biggest selling point for me to attend SCSU. Economically, I am saving $7,000 a year; I took the cost of living on campus and subtracted how much I will spend on gas throughout the school year. Regarding making friends, joining an extra-curricular and simply talking with your classmates are easy ways to make friends. While attending events means that I must drive back to campus, I still believe that I am not being hurt socially with my decision to live at home and commute to college.
Sixth, no one ever explicitly told me, but I seemed to accept it as a fact that freshman didn’t get leadership roles on campus.
In high school, leadership positions were only given to seniors, and in special cases juniors, at my high school, so I believed that to be true in college as well. In my short time on campus I have been offered two leadership roles that I gladly accepted. A few of my freshman peers have been offered leadership roles as well. Leadership isn’t given based on seniority, it is given based on the level of involvement you have with the organization.
Seventh, this next one is a little less monumental as the previous myth, but college students have the stigma of becoming coffee addicts.
Knock on wood, I have not become addicted to coffee yet, nor do I even actually enjoy the taste of it. That being said, one would be in a pinch if they tried entering a classroom or walking to class without seeing a handful of students with a coffee in their hand. While it is common, becoming a coffee addict (or lover) is not guaranteed in the first semester of college.
Eighth, one of the biggest skills students learn in college is how to procrastinate; this has been preached to me by my peers a few years older than I who already have a few years of college underneath their belt.
In high school I completed my assignments the day they were assigned, for the most part. For bigger assignments, I would get a head start on them and spread out the work evenly so I would not have to stress near the due date. College has made that mode of working a little more difficult. This first semester in college I have learned to prioritize. Some may argue with my statement and say that I fell prey to the myth mentioned above, but I believe I have a strong rebuttal. Procrastination is putting something off to the last minute. Prioritization is completing the most important or more timely tasks first. It may seem like procrastination when I finish a math assignment a few hours before it is due online, or only begin a bigger project a few days before it is due, but I’d argue it is prioritization. It would be silly to complete an assignment or project a week before it was due instead of completing one that was due that night. I’d rather complete all my assignment on or close to the due date rather than complete some way before the due date and have some assignments be late.
While college has always been an expectation for me, my own expectations for college turned out to be different than reality. Between attending classes, working, attempting to study through the tears, and making memories with my friends, I have uncovered some myths and common misconceptions about college. These are just a few myths and as a disclaimer they are not a myth for all.
Anna is a junior at St. Cloud State University and is double majoring in Math Education and Spanish Education, with a minor in Special Education. She is the Managing Editor for the University Chronicle this year. When she is not at campus attending class, working as a learning assistant or math tutor, or writing for the University Chronicle, she enjoys volunteering, reading, being overly competitive at board games, and telling horribly funny puns.