General Education

4 Things You Heard About College That are False

4 Things You Heard About College That are False
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Leo Brown August 8, 2014

People have lots to say about what you can expect from college, but you’ll be surprised to find that some of these common expectations are ones you can ignore.

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If you're about to embark on your journey to college, it's likely you've heard some of these myths. Good thing they aren't true.

“These are the best four years of your life."

I hope not! College can be great, but with luck and hard work, it’s an avenue to what’s even greater: knowledge and perspective, new relationships, a career that you love, a comfortable retirement, travels and adventure, a passion for changing the world, launching your first business. These will last you a lifetime.

"Everyone parties approximately all of the time."

You probably won’t hear anyone say this explicitly, but it can feel like that’s the expectation. If anyone actually meets this expectation, and some people do, it’s unlikely that they’ll graduate.

Most people you’ll meet have some reason to keep up with their schoolwork. Their scholarship might depend on maintaining a certain GPA. They might be focused on graduating on time and finding a good job. Or they might actually want to learn something in their classes.

"You’re about to gain the freshman 15."

In fact, the average weight gain among college first-years is two to three pounds. That is approximately the same amount of weight gained by people of the same age who do not attend college. Heavy drinking correlates much more strongly to weight gain than college attendance.

That said, you are about to enter the dining hall, a food environment of unbelievable abundance. When you see the football players eating 1,500-calorie four-plate meals, keep in mind that they are huge and work out a lot. Don’t lose sight of the salad bar amid the infinite pizza station, the self-serve vats of French toast, and the palace of desserts. A serving of meat is the size of a deck of cards.

"Your undergraduate major doesn’t matter."

Usually, when people say this, they mean that after graduation, you can go to graduate school or gain professional experience, perhaps through volunteer work or an internship, in a field outside of your major. So it’s true that choosing a major doesn’t commit you to a particular career.

On the other hand, the quickest route is a straight line (according to classical physics). So if you’re confident in your direction and you’d like to get your chosen career underway, it makes sense to look at the people who are where you want to be and consider choosing the majors that they did.

If you’re not sure what you want to do and you’re excited about trying on different hats, college is a great time to do it. Liberal arts colleges are set up for this sort of experience.

Regardless of your path, your major does matter. It will be the foundation of your education. People will ask you about it for the rest of your life, and you can’t change majors once you’ve graduated. Most of all, your major is worth whatever you make of it, which can be a great deal if you plan carefully and work hard.


Palmer, K. (2011, November 1). Freshman 15 weight gain is a myth: study. Reuters. Retrieved May 6, 2014, from Reuters

Goudreau, J. (2012, May 15). The 15 Most Valuable College Majors. Forbes. Retrieved May 6, 2014, from Forbes


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