Campus Life

College Mythology 101

The annual cycle of college admissions just keeps on turning. Here we are again on the cusp of yet another November 1 Early Action (EA) and Early Decision (ED) deadline. The gears keep on grinding, year after year.

The desire to seek higher education is something that is either born into or instilled into young hearts. Even those whose financial circumstances appear to prohibit going to college can still carry the hope of going to college.

Because the tradition and goal of college is such a tightly woven part of our culture, the inevitable misinformation and outright fantasies about it have sprung up over the years. In doing some research for another article the other day, I came across an interesting collection of so-called college myths.

Now a “myth" is described as “a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events," or, more accurately related to higher education, “a widely held but false belief or idea."

Campus Grotto is an interesting site that explores a number of college-related aspects. I've cited their information here before and once I saw their collection of myths, I knew that I had to share some of them (my Top 10 from CG's list of 17) with you. Whether you're a college graduate, a current college student, or a high schooler hoping to one day trod the sod of higher education, I think you'll find some of these “false beliefs" (fortunately offset by the “truth") interesting if not entertaining.

Have you heard that …

If your roommate dies, you get all A's?

Truth: Although many schools will sympathize with you and understand this would be a traumatic situation, no school has a policy that awards a 4.0 GPA to a student whose roommate dies. There are a number of variations of this myth, one being students thinking they receive a 4.0 only if their roommate commits suicide. There is no truth to this myth. If something this horrible did happen, students would probably be offered counseling, but not a 4.0. This myth is portrayed in the movie Dead Man on Campus.

Best friends should never room together?

Truth: This is a borderline one. Rooming together has strengthened friendships and it has broken others. The only one(s) who will honestly know the answer to this one is you and the friend you are considering rooming with. Know that any roommate will get on your nerves at times and you will have to work out issues. If you still can't decide, you and your friend should request the same dorm/floor, but separate rooms. This way you will have your space (somewhat) and easily get to know and make new friends.

You won't get homesick?

Truth: There are many mixed feelings and emotions when you go off to college for the first time. The thought of being off on your own can get overwhelming at times as you learn to handle this new feeling of independence. Many get homesick for a number of reasons. This is why you will see some students going back home every so often to get some home-cooked meals, visit with parents, and see friends and siblings back home.

The Freshman 15 happens to everyone?

Truth: While the Freshman 15 comes true for many freshmen, not all students will gain 15 pounds their first year in college. Students aren't living at home anymore getting those full course meals, and are instead eating lightly and cheaply. Granted fast food intake and cafeteria food consumption goes up (the main causes of the freshman 15), but students tend to spend their last dollar(s) on textbooks, not proper calorie intake. Besides, many students can actually appear that they are in better shape after their first year of college, rather than looking like they gained 15 pounds. This is because students (mostly males) tend to grow into their bodies.

Ivy League schools are full of rich kids?

Truth: Contrary to popular belief, the Ivy League schools are affordable. Granted they are more expensive than your typical state college, know that most of the Ivy League schools offer excellent financial aid packages. Did you know Harvard is only the 118th most expensive college in the nation tuition-wise?

College is like the movie Animal House?

Truth: Believe it or not, most students go to college to study. While many make partying a weekly thing, it's those that do it every night who end up struggling with their grades and/or fail out of class and end up on academic probation. While a good college theme party is fun every now and then, one of the biggest tests of college is being able to balance academic work with your social life. Live a little, but know why you went to college in the first place.

These will be the best years of your life?

Truth: How many times have you heard that from your parents? Many adults look back on college as a time when they were free from most real world responsibility, and now they are stuck in the daily grind of the working class. College isn't always the best time of your life per se, just enjoy the freedom you have while you have it. This is your time to figure out who you are as a person (being away from home for the first time) and what type of career you want to go into. Make every minute count. Learn how to properly balance school work, activities, and a social life.

College lasts four years?

Truth: Only about 1 out of 3 students complete college in four years, and about half complete it in six. If you plan to be out of college in four years, learn what your college's four-year graduation percentage is. There is nothing wrong with taking five years to get your degree.

It's better to get good grades than to take challenging courses?

Truth: What you really want to take in college is classes that will benefit you, help you grow, and be useful in your career after college. Of course, you'll have the courses required for your major, but almost all majors leave time for electives. This way you can pick and choose classes that may be interesting to you …

Your major determines your career?

Truth: Sure an engineering degree sounds a lot better than a history degree. There are still many excellent career opportunities for graduates from any major, as long as you can show potential employers that you know how to learn and can adapt to the field. There are many college grads out there who end up in a career totally different from their major.


Sure, some of these are laughable, but you may be surprised how many less-than-well-informed people out there harbor belief in some of these myths. Don't be one of them.

Just remember: College is not like the movie Animal House

… but it can be. 🙂


Check College Confidential for all of my college-related articles.