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In high school, you often hear the horror stories about college. While many of these rumors do hold true, others are simply myths. But it is also important to remember that everyone has a different experience that is influenced by their choices and the atmosphere of their school. What rang true to me may not be what you see.
Party Life: Truth
Many students choose to drink and throw parties on the weekends—especially if there is a big sports game. Most colleges have big football (or in our case hockey) games that everybody celebrates for. Weekends you can expect there to be yelling, loud music, and drunk students stumbling around at night. That said, my school takes safety very serious. If it is a game night, you can expect there to be campus security driving around, keeping an eye out for frat parties and drunk drivers. You may or may not choose to participate in the festivities depending how much of a risk taker you are. The bottom line... don't let anyone pressure you into doing something you do not want to do. It isn't worth risking your future for popularity. And if you do choose to go party, be safe and make good choices. Don't drink and drive, make sure you are with friends you can trust, and remember that drugs, alcohol, and/or sex do not mix.
Professors don't care about students: Myth
I remember being told in high school that professors do not care if you pass or not. I couldn't find this any less true. Yes you will have good and bad professors, no matter where you go. However, I found the majority of my professors to be supportive and very caring. In small classes, the professors will almost certainly ask you how your day was or make an effort to get to know you. Large lectures make it difficult to get to know everyone. It's not that these professors don't want to care about you as an individual getting enough time to write down all the notes—it is because they can't. You will learn quickly that it is important to be an efficient note taker. College courses are often fast paced and have a lot to cover. If a professor stopped each time one of their two hundred students requested to, they would never get through the material. Many of my professors held reasonable office hours or even stayed after class in order to answer any questions. During my first semester, I approached my Intro to Psych professor to ask his professional opinion on a topic (because I am a nerd and was curious). He gladly told me his own experiences and took time to tell me about something we are both passionate about. Most professors are just as approachable, and some cases more so, than your high school teachers.
Living in the dorms sucks: A Little of Both
I will admit that my opinion is slightly biased because I did not end up with a roommate. Although it would have been nice to get to know someone else, I really enjoyed having my own space. From what I have heard from friends, roommates tend to go either one way or another—you love them or you hate them. If you have any say in your roommate, try to make sure you get someone whose schedule and personality aligns with yours. Although I did not have a roommate, I did get to learn about the other personalities I was living with. Many schools have dorms separated by gender. UND made all of their dorms co-ed in my freshman year. That meant I got the gossiping girls and partying guys... not to say there weren't chill guys and girls still. One thing you will learn about living in the dorms is there are fire alarms. We had a fire drill almost every month (which comes as a surprise if you don't check your email). On top of that, there were numerous fires caused by people who never learned how to use a microwave, stove, or drier. On the other hand, living on campus is convenient as you are closer to class and dining centers. My school also tended to host small and large events for the dorms and campus.
Classes are tougher: Truth
Were you often told by high school teachers to stop "drifting" through class or it is going to catch up to you? Well, it has caught up to you. Yes, you will have classes that are easier. But for the most part, you will not do very well by ditching class and not studying. In high school, the "nerds" are usually separated from everyone else through advanced or AP courses. There's nothing like that in college. Everyone is in the same boat and it is a free-for-all. That being said, go find that nerd in your class and ask for some lessons. Or make use of the resources provided to you through your counselor or academic help programs. And finals are as big as everyone makes them seem. If you're not doing so hot in a class, failing that final may set you back a whole year!
You will meet your real friends: Truth
Although there are still some stereotypes, I found many of the "clichés" that existed in high school almost vanished during college. Everyone changes and discovers who they are and what they want to do with their lives (some quicker than others). Sure there will be people you don't like and you will burn a few bridges but hey that's life. While everyone discovers who they are, you will recognize people who share similar interests with you. Over the years you get to know these people, you will form friendships, relationships, and be part of a family you never knew could exist. Even at a small college, you will meet people from around the country that you may otherwise have never known. This, to me, was one of the most amazing things I learned in my first year of college.