By Naomi Atwater

Dear Freshman,

Your new chapter has begun – congrats! Nothing is quite like the excitement (and maybe nervousness!) of starting something this new. For me, I walked onto campus with a head full of expectations, and very little could have set me up to know what would be ahead! Four years later, I sit here as a freshly graduated student, astonished at what truly came of the experience.

As soon as I got my acceptance letter and began to plan my next four years, all of the jokes, warnings, and pieces of advice started coming my way. Additionally, several things I believed pre-college proved untrue once I started. I heard to be prepared for days packed to the minute with obligations, all-nighters a couple of times a week to finish homework, and the highest social and achievement pressure. As each new year rolled around and new students filled the dorms, I often heard those same thoughts repeated again and again.

Thankfully, my terror of barely surviving in college dissolved before too long! Read the myths that I believed versus what I saw people typically experience.

  1. Myth: It’s crucial to your success to be involved in as many things as possible.

Truth: You will probably be able to do better in the things that you want to do and help further you along in your professional field than signing up for everything. Nothing is wrong with exploring your interests in multiple groups, hobbies, or classes, but once you find what you are good at and enjoy, you can certainly be selective about where you spend your energy.

  1. Myth: Professors with hard classes do not want you to pass.

Truth: Most professors that assign a lot of work and present challenging assignments often care deeply about your growth and development and want to make sure you get the most out of your experience. They know you’ve paid to be sitting in their classroom and are preparing for a career, so why not make sure you get the most out of it? If they assign you a lot of work, they also have the care to commit to grading all the work, which will be more for them, too! Professors also are often happy to sit down with you and discuss the best way for you to learn and understand, and will be happy with your attention towards growth. They likely really want to see you succeed!

  1. Myth: You should constantly worry about your GPA.

Truth: At the end of the day, your GPA, whether As or Ds, will still get you your diploma. There is nothing wrong with working toward high grades, but in some semesters, your capacity will be different, and your goals need to be scaled down. So many unexpected things happen- family emergencies, sickness, or just a chaotic semester. And thankfully, many professors allow for a lot of grace in grading during these times. You will need to be on top of communicating with them!

  1. Myth: Applying for scholarships is a waste of time.

Truth: Scholarship applications take time and attention, and receiving negative responses can be discouraging. However, filling out applications for even the smallest scholarships often pays off. In the worst scenario, if you spend 5 hours filling out ten different scholarship applications and land only one for $200, you earn $40 an hour, which is a much higher rate than most pre-college jobs.

  1. Myth: College requires being stressed and staying up late all the time.

Truth: Busy seasons come and go. There may be weeks that you have more on your plate, but it is possible to plan. Shockingly, I never pulled a single all-nighter or even stayed up past one o’clock working on assignments, but this required planning and time management. Although more difficult during some semesters, I almost always found ways to prioritize sleep, socializing, working part-time, and other activities I enjoyed.

  1. Myth: College lasts forever.

Truth: Four years fly by. Even a couple of months out, the entire experience begins to feel like a blurry memory. These years are different from any other, rich, and possibly some of the most exciting yet. Enjoy them!