The College Student Experience: Realities vs. Myths

Students enter college with a variety of ideas as to what they think their experience is going to look like.

For some, the focus is more on parties and socializing while others see college as a place where people study for hours on end.

Although every college student will have some different experiences simply based on what school and program they choose to enroll in, there are still some realities and myths that everyone should know about.

The College Student Experience: Realities vs. Myths | What is really true about being a college student? This post tells you what's fact or fiction when it comes to higher education. Lots of great advice and info included for current and former students

Reality or Myth: College Professors Don’t Offer Students Extra Credit

Answer: Reality (a majority of the time)

Say goodbye to those days when you got extra credit in your high school class for completing an extra question or assignment.

Although some professors will give you the opportunity to earn some extra credit, most college students will agree that these opportunities are few and far between.

Throughout my bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, I can count on one hand the amount of times I was offered an extra credit assignment, and it wasn’t an easy one. I’m talking writing a paper that required extensive research.

Knowing this, you need to make sure every assignment you turn in is your best work because you probably won’t get the chance to do it over.

To help you study better and make sure you’re producing quality work, read the following:

Reality or Myth: The Best Time to Get Financial Aid is Before You’re a College Freshman

Answer: Myth

There is this underlying notion that scholarships, grants, and other financial aid are more geared toward high school students that are applying for initial acceptance into college.

Although it’s true that there are a lot of financial options for these students, there are still plenty for those college students who have been enrolled for a year or more. Even graduate students have access to a variety of scholarships!

We need to get in the mindset that college financial aid can be obtained at any time.

You should never let the fact that you’re a sophomore, junior, senior, or grad student stop you from applying for more financial aid.

Take the time to search for scholarships specifically geared toward upperclassmen. You’d be surprised at all the scholarship money that’s out there!

Check out College Financial Aid: 10 Free Websites You Need to Use for more information about financial aid.

Reality or Myth: Getting Good Grades is the Most Important Part of College

Answer: Myth

Some people will argue this point with me, but I take the stance that grades aren’t everything in college.

Don’t get me wrong – You need to get the best grades you can so that your GPA stays up, but don’t freak out if you aren’t getting straight A’s.

As a young professional who has been finding my way in the workforce, I’ve found the networking and experience are just as valuable as grades. In fact, those two things might be even more important than your GPA!

Job markets are still competitive and companies often look for people who have had experience. Even entry-level jobs often look for individuals who are at least familiar with the field.

Knowing this, it’s important that you take part in internships, part-time work, or volunteering so that you can get valuable real world experience under your belt.

In addition to experience, college opens the door for tons of networking opportunities to occur, whether it be at special events or simply in class with your peers and professors.

To this day, I still maintain contact with several of my peers and professors because one day I might have a question that fits their expertise, or maybe in the future I’ll end up moving to one of their cities and need insight about jobs.

What I’m trying to say is make sure that you take the time to invest in experiences and networking in college so that you have the advantage during the job hunt later on.

But what if my grades start to suffer?

As I said before, you still want to have a good GPA upon graduation, so don’t overwork yourself. You know your limits and what you’re capable of. If getting a job or internship just isn’t an option for you, then hit the networking piece hard! It’s all about balance.

The College Student Experience: Realities vs. Myths | What's true about college and what isn't? This post covers the important topics that students ask about college, including academics and campus life.

Reality or Myth: You Should Study 2-3 Hours for Every 1 Hour of Class You Have

Answer: Reality

Yes, this is actually a reality, but college students often struggle to do this.


Because college is full of new opportunities to socialize and find out who you are. This is most likely the first time you’ve lived by yourself and you have to figure out how to manage everything. Link to time management post.

It’s tough during the first weeks, and you may even find yourself feeling overwhelmed by all the school work that has been assigned by your professors.

One of the big reasons you are supposed to spend so much time studying is because the material is more in-depth and requires time to learn. Remember, when you get a degree you are showing the world that you are more educated on something. If you graduate without learning anything, then college was kind of pointless!

Also, the extra study time accommodates the long papers and chapter readings that you will need to complete. You will have to research databases and sift through library materials to find what you need.

This all takes time.

My rule of thumb is to account for the two to three hours per class and if you’re able to complete the work under that amount of time, then great! If not, then at least you scheduled in that time so that it didn’t conflict with anything else.

How you divide up the time is up to you – Some people prefer to study mostly on the weekends or the evenings, while others divide it up in smaller chunks throughout the day. Whatever choice you make, I highly encourage you to get a planner or calendar to help you stay organized!

Reality or Myth: Your College Years Should Be the Best Years of Your Life

Answer: It’s Up to You!

You have the power to decide whether this is a college myth or reality. Personally, I look back on my college years and reminisce about how great they were and how I miss being on-campus.

Even though I enjoy being an adult, I will always look back and remember how great my college experience was.

So the choice is yours – Will you make the most of your college years?

What Other College Realities or Myths Can You Think Of?

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