I can’t believe I’m finished with my first quarter of college! To celebrate, and hopefully provide some small comfort to anxious high school seniors, I’ve compiled a list of myths that high school teachers and other adults told me, and debunked them.
- Professors have zero tolerance for late work. To be absolutely clear, I am not condoning late work or saying that you should miss a deadline and expect no consequences. But in my experience, professors understand that we’re human and that sometimes, things come up. As long as you are respectful and have a legitimate reason, most professors will work with you. Of course, it’s always better to communicate sooner than later if a deadline looks like a problem. If you have a disability or illness that could interfere with your work regularly, I recommend communicating this directly to your professors from the start and seeking accommodations if possible from your school’s disability office.
- Professors don’t care about you as a person. This may depend on the size of the class and the professor’s personality, but most good professors do care about you beyond the classroom, especially if you try to reciprocate. I’ve had professors ask me how midterms are going or if I’d read anything good lately. One even brought in homemade muffins for the class.
- Professors will not help you on assignments. While it’s true that professors don’t have the time to give individualized attention to everyone, many will be glad to help you if you ask and have tried your best. Office hours are designated specifically for students who need help. Going to office hours is also a great way to build relationships with professors or learn more about material that interests you. Don’t worry about inconveniencing them; one of my professors told me that she was bored before I came to see her!
- TA’s don’t know what they’re doing. In my experience, TA’s are very helpful if your professor is too busy or if you need material explained another way. They often get a bad rap because they aren’t tenured professors and often are students themselves, but they can be just as helpful as professors, and might even sympathize more with your plight.
- The workload will be overwhelming. This is again dependent on the type and number of classes, but there are almost certainly supports available like study groups and tutoring. It’s important to maintain good study habits, and certain weeks are busier than others, but people will help if you reach out. Just make sure to ask for help early, and as often as you need.
- Your only grade will be the final exam. I can’t think of any class where the grade is based on one or two tests. While there are fewer tests than in high school, and therefore more weight is given to tests, other assignments factor into your grade. Many professors do care about participation and quiz grades.
- Any given path to college is the “right” one. I know that many of you are waiting on college acceptances, and I want to reiterate that whatever decision you receive doesn’t dictate your worth. There is no one path to college that works for everyone. I know people who are happy at elite colleges, liberal arts colleges, public colleges, community colleges, trade schools, and not pursuing higher education. The college experience is different and valid for everyone.
Hopefully this list puts some minds at ease. College is a new adventure, and it can be both exciting and scary. Whatever happens in the coming weeks, remember to take your path seriously, but don’t forget to have fun.