The myths defining the unknown are always scarier than the thing itself. Until you’re moved in, finding a seat in your first class, and making your first friend, your mind may be filled with worry. There’s no escaping it. Eventually reality will redefine those delusions you’ve held about the college experience. Until then, I’ll do my best to calm your fears. Here are five myths about your first year of college:
1. Freshman Fifteen
Yes, if you eat cafeteria pizza with breadsticks and a plate of spaghetti with maybe some soft-serve in a cone to go, you will more than likely gain the freshman fifteen. Or, you could use your newfound adulthood to perfect the art of balance. Become acquainted with the salad bar. Skip the soft-serve sundae every now and then. As exciting as this candy and ice cream filled cafeteria may be, the ball is in your court. This isn’t to say that you have to skip out on Saturday waffles (I lived for these!) just that you don’t have to completely cover them in chocolate chips and whipped cream (guilty!). The freshman fifteen doesn’t happen to everyone. College cafeterias have options—some good, some bad. Eat more good than bad! There’s no need to miss out on Saturday brunch. Saturday night dinner? A hearty salad.
2. Your Philosophy Professor Wants to Turn You into an Atheist
While some of the philosophers you learn about will be in direct conflict with your faith, learn to separate your professor from the philosopher. Attending a Christian school, I knew my professor shared my faith. Even still, I struggled thinking that his lessons were reflective of his beliefs. It’s an easy mistake to make, but the truth is your professor’s job is to teach you what so-and-so thinks. So-and-so might think God is dead. Your professor doesn’t think that’s true. Or maybe they do, but either way this is a moment where you’re just learning facts about philosophy. Just because the philosopher said it, and just because your professor repeated it to you in no way changes what you know to be true in your heart. Use this time to strengthen your faith. Do your research. The testing of faith produces perseverance.
3. You’re Roommate Will Be a Total Nightmare
You may find your best friend—or you might not. There are so many different scenarios for a roommate relationship, but very seldom do they end with a blow up fight and burned down dorm room. I’d even say maybe never. The chances of your roommate becoming your mortal enemy are very slim. More than likely you’ll learn more about the art of communication. There are going to be times your roommate leaves a mess of their clothes. Or maybe they borrow an outfit without asking. Whatever and wherever your line is, just make it clear. Having open dialogue between you and your roommate is going to help prevent that small, totally accidental fire. Don’t let your list of grievances grow. They’ll do things that bug you, but you’ll do things that bug them. That’s life, but the total nightmare is totally preventable.
4. Everyone Drinks and Parties All Weekend
Do people drink and party in college? Sure. Does everyone drink and party in college? Not even close. Yes, if you try to find a part on a Friday night, you usually can. I went to Biola University. Students’ sign a contract promising not to drink, smoke, gamble, etc. Even with this contract there were parties. If I wanted to find them, I could. It might’ve taken a little more effort, but they existed. The choice is yours. As many parties as there might be, there will be just as many people staying in having movie marathons. Late college nights don’t have to include drinking and parties. Sometimes they include late night chats with friends, fro-yo runs, and spa nights. There’s no college rule that says you have to drink and party, and if there was, I wouldn’t have followed it. You do you. Don’t let anyone tell you what you’re college experience should look like—make it your own.
5. College is Way Harder than High School
I won’t lie and say college is easy, because it’s not. College is a new world. You’ll have so much more on your plate than just academics. There will be distractions. It’s important to keep your focus. Just remember that high school has prepared you for this. Remember your English teacher’s advice on the perfect essay and the study prep skills you’ve developed through trial and error. College might be a little bit harder, but it’s definitely not that much harder. It’s manageable, and you can do it! Seeking balance is key. Don’t overcommit in those first months. Give yourself time to adjust. Anything new is scary and sometimes hard, but it’s totally worth it.