Have you ever heard of a really bad myth that simply made you cringe? The reason why it made you cringe, is because the myth was so blatantly inaccurate! Today, we’re here to debunk the five most common college myths that we hear from students year after year.
Increasingly, high school students are discouraged from attending college because people will tell them some of the most common college myths they know. They’ll say it’s not a fit for them, or that it’s too expensive, or that it’s meaningless to go to college if you don’t know what your career path will look like post-graduation. I can resoundingly confirm that these are all myths. In fact, college was the best four years of my life. It was the type of place I needed to grow personally, professionally, and academically. However, to embark on this journey, it has to begin with planning as early as possible in high school.
Common Myth 1: Planning for College Only Starts in Junior Year of High School
Preparing for college starts as soon as the 9th grade! By no means are you expected to plan out your 4-year coursework plan or know exactly which college you want to aim for. However, it’s always good to at least start thinking about what classes you want to take and what clubs you’d like to participate in during high school.
It doesn’t hurt to also start asking upperclassmen about their experiences applying for college and getting ready for SATs/ACTs. For students interested in the University of California school system as a potential college destination, it’ll be a good idea to start planning out coursework in alignment with the A-G requirements.
Myth 2: College is Only for the Smartest Students
College is for everyone. There are programs for all types of students for every type of interest for every type of background. While there are some colleges that require specific courses in order to be considered for admissions, there are thousands of other schools across the country that are flexible with their requirements. The very minimum will be a high school diploma or GED.
Additionally, colleges have support systems, tutoring, and office hours to support students of all backgrounds academically. It’s a safe space! Colleges understand that high schools around the world aren’t the same. Some folks may come from less advantaged backgrounds, while others may come from schools that don’t offer AP courses. Point being, as long as you are interested in learning, there is a place for you in college!So next, you’re ready to start building your school list for college admissions all on your own! Give yourself plenty of time to make adjustments and do your research throughout this stage.
Myth 3: College Only Means a 4-Year Degree
Associate degrees or certifications at community colleges typically only take 2 years to complete. They tend to provide specialized training in a more intimate classroom setting at an affordable or even free price!
Even if you do choose a 4-year program, you are by no means bound to the 4-year requirement. It’s very common for students to take a 5th or even 6th year. For students feeling particularly ambitious and want to get out of school as soon as possible, graduating within 3 years is also an option too!
Myth 4: You Need to Know What You Want to Major in Before College
This is probably by far the biggest misconception. Colleges often offer hundreds or even thousands of class options per semester/quarter. For students who do know what they want to study, my biggest advice is to keep an open mind. Don’t be afraid to explore interesting or odd classes!
You’d be surprised how much it can change your perspective and potentially even your major. College is about discovering your passions and your interests with thousands of courses in the catalog. Personally, I’ve even taken courses called “Sushi and Ramen” and “Broadway Theater Arts Management.” As a Computer Science major, these were easily among my top two favorite courses.
For students in 4-year programs, the first two years of general requirement classes are there to help you find your passion. It’s typically only at the end of your sophomore year, are you then required to select a major. For me, I’ve switched my major four times before I eventually landed on Computer Science, and I still made it out the other side! At the end of the day, my biggest advice is to keep an open mind, explore, and have fun with the process.
Myth 5: College is Not Affordable
College can be expensive, but there are billions of dollars of scholarships offered each year for college students. There are all types of scholarships for everyone, and I mean that literally. There are the usual scholarships that may ask for the short essays, but there are also fun scholarships simply for being left-handed, to even being the cutest prom couple. In other words, there is money everywhere for college students!
In addition to scholarships, it’s important to also fill out the annual Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. FAFSA helps the government and colleges determine how much free money you get for college. It’s important to fill out the FAFSA early because financial aid can run out for procrastinators out there! You don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to attend your dream college simply because you forgot to fill out the FAFSA. Some of the FAFSA funds will come in the form of free money for college, while a small portion of it may require you to participate in work-study. This will require you typically working a few hours during the week at a local work-study-approved job at or near your college.
So, Most Common College Myths Debunked!
Ultimately, we know that the college admissions process is daunting, but we at Empowerly can help! We’d be happy to help guide you through the financial aid process, applying for scholarships, college application process, and even the high school course planning process! Book a free consult today!