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Toronto, Ontario - M5V 1R2
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Busted! 9 Post-Secondary Myths That Need Some Clearing Up

Written by Rebecca Tunney

A lot of people will try to give you advice and insider hints on how to survive your days at post-secondary. But just how accurate are these myths? We’re going to determine which of these popular sayings have truth to them and which are downright wrong—hopefully we’ll be able to ease some of your fears along the way.

1. “Everyone gets the Freshman 15.”

Verdict: Plausible

It really depends on the person. Some of my friends tell me that they did gain weight during their first year, while others say they actually lost weight.

The Freshman 15 usually happens because it’s the first time a student is away from home. They have a meal plan, and they can choose to eat whatever they want, oftentimes indulging in everything their heart desires. But for others, it’s the opposite; students can get so busy and caught up in their work that they forget to eat.

My best advice is to not make a big deal of the proverbial Freshman 15. If you’re hungry, you should eat. Don’t ignore your rumbling stomach just because you’re worried about gaining weight, since skipping meals is actually worse for your metabolism than eating poorly. Instead, surround yourself with healthier options, and figure out where the best food on campus is so you can eat right while avoiding weight gain.

2. “You’re nothing but a number in university,” or “You won’t get help from anybody.”

Verdict: Busted

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. SO wrong.

Okay, yeah, your student number is important. It’s a good idea to memorize it as soon as you can so that you don’t have to pull out your school ID at every exam, but remember: your identity doesn’t end at the last digit of your student number.

Your profs actually care about you, believe it or not. They understand that you’re still human and that things come up unexpectedly. They will give you the amount of work that seems fair, but if you need an extension you can always talk to them! Send your professor an email to request a meeting or drop in during office hours so you can work things out. All professors were once students, too, so they’ll often do their best to help you.

“Your identity doesn’t end at the last digit of your student number.”

If you’re struggling with your work, there are also academic advisors that you can book appointments with. They’re there to remove some stress from your academic life and help you make important decisions that don’t make complete sense to you.

3. “Your guidance counselor knows everything. Listen to every single thing they say.”

Verdict: Plausible

While you shouldn’t fear turning to your counselors when you need help, understand that all they can do is strongly suggest options. Whatever you decide is up to you.

For example, a friend of mine is a science major, but he also plans on pursuing an English minor. His counselor has told him that it would make more sense to minor in another science to match his major, but he knows he would be happier with English. He plans to stick with it.

Counselors are good resources for lost, confused students, but they may not always be right. As with everything else, make sure you question the choices they give you and do your own research. Never trust anyone blindly, especially if they only know you at face-value.

4. “Post-secondary school is where the real work begins.”

Verdict: Plausible

I guess it depends on your definition of “real.” Is the work you do in university different from what you do in high school? Yes, especially since nobody is there to regulate you. But is it the hardest thing you’ll ever experience? No, probably not. At first, it will seem daunting and impossible. But as you go along, you’ll learn the rhythm and things will get easier. Trust me.

5. “People only take summer school if they fail a course.”

Verdict: Busted

Are you kidding? Taking summer school is one of the smartest things you can do in post-secondary. Some people take it to get ahead of the game, while others take it to allow themselves a lighter workload during the fall and winter terms. That’s what I did. While some of my peers took five classes per semester, I took four and then did summer school. It lowers your stress levels and allows you to focus on a single class subject instead of many at once, which tends to improve your GPA. And depending on the institution, students taking summer school may have access to certain summer jobs. That’s how I ended up working at my university’s library!

“Taking summer school is one of the smartest things you can do in post-secondary.”

6. “You’ll finally be learning what you want to learn.”

Verdict: Busted (for first year students, anyway)

Not at first. There are still mandatory courses that you need to take for whatever program you’re in. Even programs that aren’t math-based may ask you to take a math course just to cover your bases and to ensure you’re good at critical thinking. You may even have to take courses from other fields, but don’t see that as a bad thing! Doing that could expand your breadth of experience and foster new interests you’d never before considered.

First and second year courses also tend to be more general, but once you get to third and fourth year, you can start branching off into specific topics and fields of study. Just bear with it for the first couple of years, and soon enough you’ll really be on top of the classes that interest you.

7. “You have to do your readings.”

Verdict: Confirmed (kind of)

Well, you don’t have to do your readings. Nobody’s forcing you. No one will truly know whether you did them or not. Even if you’re regularly quizzed on readings, you could theoretically guess your way through them (but, like, don’t do that). After talking to other post-secondary students, though, I’ve confirmed that doing readings improves your performance in class more often than not. This is because your readings solidify what you learn in class, and doing them is just another way to get the course content stuck in your head. It’s just like how handwriting your notes can get you better grades.

My final words on this? No, your readings aren’t exactly “mandatory”, but trying to get them done won’t hurt you.

8. “Post-secondary messes up your sleep schedule.”

Verdict: Confirmed

Yup, prepare to have your sleep schedule change drastically from what it was like in high school. You’ll either learn how to run on four hours of sleep or end up sleeping for over 10 hours each day and remain perpetually exhausted. You might even start going to bed at 5:00 a.m. and wake up an hour before your 5:00 p.m. class. Everybody’s different, though, so some people might have worse sleep schedules than others. Whether it’s a change for the worse or the better, you’ll definitely have to get used to a new sleeping routine.

“You might even start going to bed at 5:00 a.m. and wake up an hour before your 5:00 p.m. class.”

9. “University is better than college.”

Verdict: Busted

Both are post-secondary institutions meant to better your education; they just entail different types of learning. University is more independent and centered on book smarts while college is hands-on, but one is not superior over the other. They simply specialize in different programs and fields. People learn differently, so it’s important to choose a school that will fit your learning needs. For more information on this, here are some differences between university and college!

With all of this in mind, it’s important to remember that people are different and have varying experiences. Maybe some of this doesn’t apply to you, and that’s okay! This is a generalization, after all, so there are always going to be outliers. Honestly, don’t freak out about the overwhelming advice you’ll probably be given—you’ll learn the ropes on your own soon enough.

What are your concerns for post-secondary? What had you been worried about when you were a freshman? Let us know in the comments—we might just be able to bust or confirm them.

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.