Last Updated: Jul 24, 2013
College is much harder than high school—or, at least, that’s what people say. Is it true, or just a myth? Turns out, there are a lot of myths about college academia and unfortunately, many students enter college unaware of them. It is crucial for a college freshman to understand what rumors of university-level classes are legitimate and which ones are just stereotypes. Any new college student can easily have a leg up on this exciting phase of their life by simply seeking out as much information as possible in advance.
With that being said, there are many myths about college academics that need to be busted. Let’s take a look:
1. You don’t have to go to every class
It might be tempting to skip class, especially if it’s early in the morning or if attendance isn’t taken. However, showing up to class isn’t just about getting those attendance points. If you are absent from class, you may miss the professor giving a certain assignment, particularly impromptu work that is not on the syllabus. You also run the risk of falling behind by not having notes for that lecture. And make no mistake, professors and teaching assistants notice absences, even if they don’t mention them, so maintaining a strong and respected relationship with them is another key reason to break away from this myth.
2. You don’t need to buy the textbook
Many students decide they won’t buy the required textbook for a class due to the high price and the assumed likelihood that they “won’t even use it.” The expensive nature of college textbooks can be very intimidating, particularly when a student has a full course schedule and a lot of books to purchase. However, a lack of a required text can often make the difference between passing and failing a course. Even if you only end up using it for a small portion of the class, that small portion could be integral to your preparation for the final exam and your overall grade. Consider renting a textbook, buying used ones from upperclassmen, hunkering down with the library’s copy, or browsing for cheaper prices online to avoid the high costs—there are plenty of options to work around the issue of cost.
3. Easy courses are better than challenging ones
Many college students chase the easy A’s: courses with simple content and/or a relaxed professor that almost guarantees a high grade. But college is not just about grades (it’s arguably not about grades at all!), but intellectual experience and preparation for life beyond college as well. It can be incredibly advantageous to take the challenging course, and not just to get another graduation requirement out of the way. Working hard and being successful in a difficult course can prepare you for future success in other advanced courses and future jobs. Additionally, taking too many “easy A’s” can be hurtful in the sense that you really don’t have much time to waste if you plan to graduate on time, as very few of those easy courses will be applicable to the required credits that you need to complete in a timely manner to obtain a degree. It’s best to make each semester a healthy blend of difficult, easier, and interesting courses. Remember not to overload your studies by attempting to do everything at once.
4. You can sit in the back and check Facebook during lectures
With large class sizes and the abundance of laptops and smart phones, the temptation for distraction is all too common in college classrooms. Many students take notes on their computers, and some are likely to have chat windows and social networks open at the same time. This is bad for professors because they end up lecturing to a distracted audience, but is it bad for students? Not so surprisingly, yes! Distracted students miss key information, and more importantly they don’t participate. A professor might get the impression that all students understand a difficult concept, when in reality they just aren’t paying attention. This hurts everybody later on come test days. Resist the urge to use distracting technology and give these lectures the attention they deserve!
5. Finals week is the worst
Okay, this is very well may be true for many if not most students, but it remains a myth for those who are well prepared! Just because most papers and final exams tend to fall in the same last week of the semester doesn’t mean you have to do all the work at one time! Preparation for finals week should begin on the first day of classes. It’s important to study regularly, write papers (or at least some sections) as you can in advance, and complete various assignments early on, so you won’t end up staying up all night trying to cram everything into your brain or get regular course work done at the last minute. Finals week can be executed well if you spend your time wisely all semester.