College Life: Tips And Advice

Looks at the typical college advice and myths, and provides the truths.

If you're just going off to college, you have probably received a plethora of advice. Some of it you find good, some of it you may find bad, and some of it you just might not be sure of. Most college students are overwhelmed as they enter their freshman year. And if you're confused about advice, read on: this article is meant to examine traditional advice and dispel myths that it teaches.

1. Once you go to college, you have to stay there. False! Your permanent residence is still with your parents, not at the college. Colleges make you go home over long breaks, including winter, summer and major holidays. They address a lot of correspondence to your home. Unless you are living off campus and supporting yourself, you have NOT moved out of your parents' home permanently.

2. You shouldn't visit or call home often, because if you do, you'll never get used to school. Also false! If you don't visit or call home reasonably often (call at least once a week and visit at least once a month; some people call everyday and visit every weekend), you'll feel stranded and alienated. You're away from everything that's familiar to you, and if you don't have contact with what IS familiar to you, you might not be mentally up to the challenge of adapting to a new environment. If you still feel connected to home, you'll feel safer and be more likely to spread your wings.

3. You have to live away from home. Not true! While may students want to just get OUT already, not everyone does. If you're someone who'd really just like to stay at home and live in a place that's familiar to you while you attend school, then do it! You'll be more successful and happier if you're in a place where you want to be.

4. You have study a TON. Not necessarily. Some people find that they really do have to study a lot more in college, especially if they didn't take very hard classes in high school. However, if you took a LOT of hard classes in high school, you might find college significantly easier. You will have to read a lot more, and learn a lot more on your own. But if you're fairly smart, and you go to class and read the book, you may not have to study much, if at all. Do what you need to do -- but don't overdo it.

5. You will gain the freshmen 15. You don't have to! A lot of kids go crazy on college campuses -- suddenly there's pizza, french fries, ice cream, and who knows what else available 24/7, and there's no one to tell you no. If you suddenly start pigging out on all this high-fat food, you may well gain weight. However, there are also tons of salads, fresh fruit, whole grain breads, and other healthy food on campus. You'll also likely be doing a lot more walking. If you try to eat healthier (easier than ever!) and you start walking to class, you may even LOSE weight your first year!

6. You will meet your best friend in college. Hey, it COULD be true -- but it won't necessarily be. A lot of adults say that they met their true best friend in college, so you will too. But your experience may be quite different. You may meet people who are a lot like you and make a best friend, or you may not get along very well with your classmates. It depends -- so don't expect that you WILL make a best friend, but don't expect that you won't, either.

7. In order to know how you really feel about a school, you have to stay there a long time -- like two years. No! A trial period is not two years long. Some people know whether they really want to be at a particular school within a week. Granted, you should probably give it a longer trial than that, but if you're truly unhappy after a semester or a year, then maybe it's time to look at some other schools.

8. Even if you don't like your school, you should just stick it out; it's only four years. It depends on what your concerns are -- if you just hate being away from your friends, but you love your classes and are doing well, then it's best to stay. You'll make new friends, you'll visit your old ones, and you'll get a good education. But if you have serious concerns with the program, or are very unhappy for any reason -- leave! What is an education worth if you hate every minute of it? College SHOULD be fun, and if it isn't, it might be the wrong school or the wrong time for you. Four years might not be long in the grand scheme of things, but it's a long time to be miserable.

9. People party 24/7. No, they only party at night. And even at serious party schools, there are several people and areas where there are no parties. If you don't choose to party, you don't have to -- no matter what school you go to.

This is some of the advice (and myths) that you hear about college all the time. When going to college, think about what YOU really want, and how you really feel. Only you can decide what kind of experience you want, and the experience will be largely what you make of it. You'll do better if you stay connected to the people and places you're familiar with, but still branch out and try new things. Good luck!

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