We get the majority of our information about universities from family and friends, the media, and (if you’re in upper years in high school) even the universities themselves. These sources can provide a lot of useful information, but take them with a grain of salt: you won’t know what it’s like until you actually get there.
If you’re curious about what university might actually be like, take the following information into account. Here are some common university myths, debunked by an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto.
University is a non-stop party.
We’ve all seen college movies with ridiculous frat parties, campus-wide parades, and non-stop (and underage) drinking. Don’t be fooled by that image (or the image many schools try to solidify during orientation week). It’s important to have fun, but you shouldn’t do so at the expense of your education. Plus, chances are, by mid-semester you’re going to be faced with too steep a workload to be going out every night.
If you did well in high school, you’ll do well in university.
For most students, university classes are much more difficult than their high school counterparts. The expectations are higher, the assignments are more difficult, and sometimes even the marking can throw you off. That being said, high school students that do become successful university students likely adjust well because of the skills they picked up along the way—time management, independence, resourcefulness, etc. Focus on developing those skills before you get here.
It’s impossible (or at least mind-blowingly difficult) to do well.
It’s true that expectations in university are high, and to be fair, some programs are more difficult or demanding than others. However, if you develop a solid routine (frequent study sessions, a good sleep schedule, planning in advance for due dates), and pay attention to what’s asked of you, your grades are bound to go up. It may be more difficult to handle than what you’re used to, but work hard at developing good habits and you’ll be set for the whole year.
You have to have a concrete plan for your future.
It’s good to keep some long-term goals in mind, but you shouldn’t go into your first year of university with a rigid conception of what life is going to be like after you graduate. A lot of students end up changing their majors or pursuing other studies after they finish their degrees. This isn’t a bad thing at all: university is a place for you to discover your strengths and weaknesses, as well as what you’re really passionate about. Don’t be discouraged if it takes you a little bit longer to come to those conclusions.
Remember that regardless of what you hear, university is what you make it. Don’t feel the need to fit the image of the stereotypical student (whatever that may look like to you). Come to university with an open mind, and be prepared to work hard: you’ll find your place in no time.