College. When I was younger I thought it was a whole new world to look forward to. Having freedom, getting the chance to focus on studies I'm actually interested in, partying, dating, drinking and just having a good time. Well, while some of those things are true, here are some myths about college as, after all, one of society's biggest jobs is to advertise higher education...
1. Your dorm will be your new comforting home. Unless you attend a top university, the dorms are nothing like how they advertise them online. They're probably DISGUSTING like my first-year dorm was. As a Japanese girl who grew up in a clean, well-cared-for tourist spot in Japan, moving into my college dorm was a nightmare. There were roaches (as well as other bugs that possibly haven't been discovered by entomologists yet), I had to give the room a full-on makeover, I dreaded taking a shower everyday, and the cafeteria seemed to have a repeated weekly menu. As a result I spent most of my time outside and far away from my room. After just one year, I couldn't do it anymore, and so I moved into my aunt and uncle's house.
2. You can study what you enjoy. I've changed my majors twice (which I have a point about later in my article), and my second one was vocal music because that's my number one passion. So I auditioned, passed, and started taking music classes. The first semester as a music major was fun and what I'd somewhat expected. But from the second semester I was introduced to various nightmares I hadn't been expecting. Among many problems I faced during my time in the music department, the biggest was that I was rarely doing any singing. I was required to do all this other "stuff" that wasn't going to help me grow as a singer - auditioning for the Voice would have gotten me further! Most of the time, I was sitting in my music classes learning things I am - till this day - sure I will never use in the future. I'm just complaining right now, but my point is, know that you won't be able to study the way you want or expect to. Just because you have the freedom to select a major doesn't mean you can learn about it in your own way. You learn about it in your school's way.
3. You will be completely free. "It's not like high school when teachers would check up on you," they said. Uh, MYTH. Some, while not all, professors are no different than teachers. There are professors who keep a close eye on every student and expect you to be punctual, responsible, and pretty much perfect. Quite a few professors I've had don't allow a single unexcused absence nor tardy. So, if, like me, you're not a morning person, it's probably not a good idea to be out late on a Sunday night (sucks, I know) or sign up for classes that are at 8 AM. Oh, and you'll probably be required to keep in close touch with someone called an advisor whom they expect you to make your best friend - if they're good at their job, they're very helpful.
4. It's just four years. Yeah, four years really isn't long. In fact, it may not be enough time to fulfill all your 1000 requirements, unless you're a super hardworking student who's willing to betray their social life. So you can decide: whether you'll live as a full-on "studyholic" and graduate in four years or, like me, take your time and balance your activities. Here's just one piece of advice: do not switch majors if you plan on graduating in four years. As I've mentioned, I've changed my major twice, and it may have been a big mistake. Unless you find that you really don't like your major to the point of wanting to run away, stick with it and push through. Unless you don't mind staying for more than four years.
5. College is where you'll find your future spouse. Yeah, maybe like one in five people do. I've lost count of how many dates I've been on since starting college, not because I've been on too many to count but because these dates have been so insignificant (no offense to those guys) that I don't remember most of them. Just because there are a lot a people on campus doesn't mean you'll find someone you'll click with. The guy I'm pursuing now is back in my home country, for god's sake. I wish I could have met him where I can see him everyday! One of my best girl friends just graduated without being in a single relationship throughout her college life, and I may be traveling the same route.
6. You'll find what you want to do with your life. HAHAHA. Sure. Actually, college is NOT the place to search for a passion, kids. When you enter college, you should know exactly what you're doing there and have a clear vision of your future in mind. If you don't, you are not ready for the ride and need to take a gap year to do a thorough search for your life. Like I mentioned before, exploring and changing majors will only slow down your progress. Also, how are you going to stay motivated in your classes if you don't know what you're doing there? So, know what you want to do - by the latest, the end of your first year. Think about it this way: declaring a major is opening new doors. If you do that too late, obviously it's going to take longer to reach your end: graduation.
Enough scaring now. Don't forget to also have fun with friends! Join some activities. Go dancing. Go have - SAFE - sex, whatever. There are lots of fun opportunities around you.