College classes can be very different from high school classes. Many people make assumptions about college classes such as college classes are extremely difficult, and professors are very strict, but is this actually true?
Ten myths about college classes debunked
1. Professors are always strict and mean
This is false! High school teachers will often tell you, “College professors are much stricter than me,” or “This would not be tolerated by your college professor.” While this may be true in some cases, I’ve found that in reality, many professors are less strict and more relaxed than high school teachers. Some professors will even ask to be called by their first name and their classes are very laid back. Most professors are very kind and understanding — for example, with late work, if you have a valid reason, many professors understand if something comes up and you need an extension.
2. It is impossible to make friends in large lectures
False! Large lectures can seem very intimidating and it can feel discouraging trying to make friends because there are so many people. However, if you think about it, the more people there are, the more opportunities there are to network and make new friends. In large lectures, one thing I did was try to sit next to someone new every class and ask them a question about the course to start a conversation. Additionally, many large lectures will split the students into smaller groups for discussions or group projects and these are also great opportunities to make friends.
3. You can skip class and still do well
This is untrue! Attending class is essential for doing well in college and understanding the material. It is common for test questions to be directly related to what was taught in class and sometimes professors have pop quizzes or give extra credit to students who are in class. Also, many professors have participation points. And, attending class gives you more opportunity to know the professor and network with other students.
4. You don’t need the textbook
Again, false! If the textbook is required, you absolutely will need and use it. Many students think they can pass a course without ever buying a textbook because they will not read it. However, the textbook will enhance the learning, and sometimes, test questions are directly pulled from the textbook. You don’t want to be struggling with an assignment and be forced to order the textbook while trying to do the homework. If it is in the syllabus as required reading, buy it at the start of the semester to save yourself the stress of having to buy it when you realize you need it.
5. It’s better to take easy classes than challenging ones
This is not true at all. It is best to take courses that are interesting to you. Many students think it is a good idea to take the easiest classes that will guarantee they earn an A. However, studies show that more is learned from courses that are more challenging than a course where the content is extremely easy. If you are interested in a subject even if it’s known as a hard class, learning the material can be fun, and taking a challenging class can be very rewarding.
6. You can go on your phone during class
Another false…and this is a mistake that tons of freshmen make. They think that because they are sitting near the back of the class, the professor won’t notice if they scroll through Instagram or Twitter on their phone while the professor is talking. However, some professors or Teacher’s Assistants will call students out if they spot them on their phones in class which is extremely embarrassing. It is best to turn off your phone or put it on airplane mode during class.
7. 8AM classes are the worst thing ever
This is not necessarily true. While many students dread taking an 8 am class and avoid them at all costs, sometimes the only time offered for a required class is 8 am. I remember thinking, “this is going to be a horrible semester because my required 8 am class is twice a week.” But once the class actually began it was not as bad as I thought it would be. One of the benefits of 8 am classes is that you are done with the class before 10 am so you have an early start to the day. I found that I was most productive on the days that I had the 8 am class because I was forced to wake up early, so I had more hours in the day to do studying or hang out with people than if I had been sleeping until 10 or 11 am.
8. It is impossible to get to know your professors
This is incorrect. In larger lectures, it can be hard for the professor to get to know you, but if you make an effort and go to their office hours, you can build a relationship with your professor. Whether in a large lecture or smaller class, to get to know your professor, go to office hours every other week and ask questions about the course content. Make sure to sit near the front of the room so the professor recognizes you and try to participate in discussions during every class.
9. You can cram and study the night before for an exam and do well
False! College courses require a deep understanding of the material rather than just memorizing. It is best to start studying a week before the exam and studying in a group can also be beneficial. Better yet, review your notes after every class so the concepts start to sink in. Make sure you understand the curriculum to the point that you would be able to explain it to someone else.
10. College classes are much harder than high school classes
This was not the case for me. While the content will be more robust than high school classes, I noticed that many college classes have fewer assignments than in high school. There is no busy work or nightly homework but instead projects, essays, or exams. If you manage your time properly, it can actually be less work than high school classes, because you are only taking three to four classes a semester rather than six to seven like in high school.