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‘If My Roommate Dies, Do I Get an A?’ and Other School Myths Debunked

Written by Rachel Wong

Photo by Tachina Lee on Unsplash

school myths debunked

Editor’s Note: This article on popular school myths was originally published in 2014. Some of the links and stats have been updated to reflect how common these myths still are.

As a first-year student transitioning from high school to university, I am faced with a brand new world when it comes to how school works and what is expected of me. We get advice from parents, teachers, older siblings, friends, and even movies that shape our expectations of post-secondary. But it turns out that some of these school ‘facts’ that we assume to be true are more like school myths

Here are a few common post-secondary school myths and fears that I heard. So, I went out to find the real truth behind them.

School Myth #1:

“If I go to a small college before university, I will be at a major disadvantage against all other students who started university right after high school!”

This is definitely not true! Most of the time, smaller colleges or polytechnic universities offer the same programs that you can get at bigger universities. Some advantages of going to smaller colleges in first year versus big universities include an easier transition from high school, smaller class sizes, and more affordable tuition fees. Once you feel you have the confidence (and money needed for tuition at your dream institution), you can transfer and will not be at a disadvantage from other students. The biggest thing you need to look out for is if your college program and courses are transferable with another university, and that you have all the credits and courses required.

School Myth #2:

“I was a straight-A student in high school. I barely studied and still got all the marks I wanted. Now I’m taking four courses and have two days off. This will be a breeze!”

Hold up there, Einstein. The reality for university marks is that it is harder to get A’s. True, you could be a teenage genius who just magically gets high marks with minimal effort, but at the university level, more work and effort need to be put in to get the grades you want. Simon Fraser University suggests you’ll spend three hours outside class reading and studying for every one hour you spend in class. But don’t worry, you absolutely can get A’s in university and building a strong work ethic now could pay huge dividends in your future.

School Myth #3:

“I have to make a decision about my major, and I can’t change it once I graduate.”

The good news is, you can take your time to choose your major and what you want to pursue. This is a big decision as it could possibly be what you want to spend the rest of your life doing. Some students have an inkling of what they want to study at the outset of college or university. Many, many students, however, end up with a degree completely opposite from what they had anticipated. The best way to find your passion and niche is to take various courses outside of your comfort zone. In fact, many universities require that students take breadth courses or courses outside your current area of study. So search near and far for that special course, as it may hold the key to your inspiration and future!

School Myth #4:

“Professors are mean, unapproachable, and I won’t be able to talk to them if I have questions.”

There is no denying that some professors are more approachable than others (what up, Grumpy Prof). But it’s the same way that some high school teachers are more approachable than others. Some professors spend their time in their office just marking, and no one visits them. Make an effort to talk to your professors, as many of them are willing to help you out. They could be of great help when it comes to applying for a co-op, study abroad program, or job!

School Myth #5:

“University is all about partying, partying, and keg stands!”

Universities and colleges tend to be a haven for parties: in residence, through fraternities, and even in various faculties and clubs. When it comes to school myths, this one is at least, partly true. But while it is important to let loose and have fun from time to time, remember that you are paying a lot of money to be at your institution. A report from Statistics Canada notes that “students enrolled full-time in undergraduate programs will pay, on average, $6,580 in 2020/2021.” Gives you some perspective, doesn’t it? So don’t be surprised to see the same friends who did shots last night turning up to class ready to go. And for the moment, thanks to COVID-19, we don’t foresee a lot of partying happening.

School Myth #6:

“My sister warned me all about the Freshman 15. I exercise though, so will this happen to me?”

Ah yes, the dreaded Freshman 15. This refers to one of the more well-known student myths out there that all students put on 15 pounds through their first year of university or college. Reasons for weight gain include: all-you-can-eat dining halls, homesickness, study eating, anxiety, and a lack of exercise. On top of that, students that are of legal drinking age begin to party and consume more alcohol and sleep later, adding to the vicious vacuum of Freshman 15. Get proper rest, exercise more, load up on your fruits and veggies and you should hopefully be able to avoid this one.

School Myth #7:

“So, my roommate just died. I’ve been missing class because I have been lying in my bed crying. I heard, though, that I will get an automatic A, so I can grieve in peace.”

Hopefully, this is a scenario you never have to experience. However, the myth that a student receives an automatic A or 4.0 grade because of the death of a roommate is undeniably false. The reality is that yes, you are allowed to (and should) grieve and yes, the university will give you some time to do that. But sitting out the rest of the term holed up in your room will unfortunately not give you the marks you want. Still, if you are faced with a situation like this one, make sure to reach out to your professors and see what kind of accommodations they will afford you.

Whether you are worried about making friends or being able to make the eventual jump from college to university, know that your post-secondary life is all about what you make of it. So say hi to people in your lectures (when they’re back in person again) and talk to your professors about things you don’t understand. Don’t let a few silly school myths scare you off!

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