Freshman Fact and Fiction

Before even coming to college, I had a lot of things I thought I knew about college. Over the course of my freshman year, I’ve learned a lot about what’s true and what’s not true. Even though you’re not college students yet, I figure I might as well let you in on a few secrets… about what’s fact and what’s fiction.

College Kids Eat Ramen All the Time: Fiction
I live in a dorm and do not have a kitchen. I also don’t have a microwave. I cannot make Ramen. This has been deeply depressing to me because Ramen is one of my favorite foods. In fact, I miss Ramen so much, that every time I go home, the first meal I want is always Ramen. However, I do know some kids who have microwaves and live off Ramen. Me though, my staple foods are Luna Bars, V8 juice (practically like eating a salad, right?!), string cheese, and chips.

You Can Sleep All You Want in College: Fiction
I’m a person who takes great pride in my ability to sleep past noon on the weekends. I thought I would be right in my element in college. But I’m not. Far from it. Every weekend–like clockwork– something will wake me up RIGHT at noon. Either my window will be open to the road and the noon shuttle bus will drive by. Or I’ll receive a text from someone asking to have lunch. Or I’ll hear a knock on my door from someone who needs help with chemistry homework. The truth of the matter is, most people wake up before noon and start their lives. And unlike at home, people here will want you to join in on their lives… and bother you while you’re sleeping.

Freshman 15 Is Real: Fiction
Of course I still have two weeks to go… bur so far I haven’t found this to be true. And it’s not because I exercise, because I don’t. And it’s also not because I walk a lot around campus, because I don’t do that either. My eating habits have changed though. There’s a lot of junk food around at college, and no one checking up on you. It’s tempting to eat fries for lunch every day. And frankly, I did that for almost the entirety of first semester. But there comes this moment of epiphany when you just realize “What am I doing?!” and you opt for a soup and salad instead. Also, I’ve noticed that in college, I never eat breakfast… I sleep too late. I also wind up skipping lunch more often than not, just because my class schedule is annoying. However, I do eat “fourth meal” on a regular basis. Fourth meal is literally a fourth-meal that takes place sometime around/after midnight. I stay up a lot later in college than I did in  high school (just because I can) and so I get hungry late at night. That’s when fourth meal comes in. So yes, on the one hand, my eating habits are nothing spectacular at this point… on the other hand, I haven’t gained the freshman 15.

You Can Just Skip Class: Fiction and Fact
I need to very careful when I tell you this, but skipping class is a very individual thing. I have some friends who attend every class but never read the textbook, and they do well. I have other friends who skip every class but always read the textbook, and they also do well. And there are people in both camps who do poorly. So your learning strategy depends on how you learn best. It also depends on your teachers. Some professors will test you specifically on lecture material, some will stay close to the textbook. I recommend that no matter how you learn best, you attend all classes for at least the first three weeks. You need to get a sense of how your professor teaches and how you’ll be graded. You’ll also need to attend class in order to learn important information like, well, that some professors make attendance mandatory. All this being said, there is a rare student who can skip all no-attendance-mandatory classes and still excel. But I assure you, this is the exception and not the rule.

You’ll Be So Busy All the Time: Fiction and Fact
The truth is that you are busy… but not necessarily with work. You’re going to spend more time with your friends than you did in high school. You also might devote a lot of time to extracurricular activities. You might even get a job. Most importantly, you are going to spend a LOT more time procrastinating than you ever dreamed possible. It’s just a reality of college.

College is Better Than High School: Fact
High school was lame compared to this. I get to live on my own, sleep through classes, meet new people all the time, and have my own refrigerator filled with string cheese. College is awesome.

You’ll Have So Much Less Homework: Fact
You will have significantly less homework to turn in for a grade. Most classes will be just reading, perhaps practice problems, and then 2-3 papers or tests and a final. Of course there are exceptions, math classes will have weekly problem sets, science classes will have weekly lab reports, and languages will often have weekly assignments. But for the most part, you’re going to spend a lot of quality time with your textbooks and your laptop, and very little time with your mechanical pencil and loose-leaf paper.

So those are a few facts and myths about college. There are certainly more, and you’ll discover that on your own. 🙂