College Misconceptions

by on October 12th, 2014
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If you’re thinking about going to college sometime in the future, you’re probably in your teens or early twenties. If that’s the case, there is a wealth of movies, music, and career-planning books aimed directly at you. And many of them are wrong in the way they present college.

College is All Party, All the Time

This blatant misconception comes mostly from teen movies, many of which are about hard-partying college students who drink and sleep their way through their early years.

In reality, you can’t even drink and sleep your way through one class. If you spend all night partying, you’re going to be late or miss your class. While it varies by college, most classes count multiple late arrivals as an absence. Too many absences don’t mean a bad grade- they mean an automatic “Fail”. And in the case of absences, too many means three or four.

Also, numerous colleges operate as “dry” campuses, meaning alcohol is not even permitted on university grounds. So those crazy dormitory parties the movies like to show can possibly get you expelled.

College is Full of Sleepless Study Nights

At the opposite end of the spectrum is this bit of wisdom. Prospective college students will often hear that they have to forego sleep to study for brutal exams. This is only true if you haven’t planned properly or you’ve overburdened yourself with a massive workload.

When you sign up for classes each semester, you get to pick which classes you want and how many of them you choose to take. Most colleges will only allow you to sign up for a certain number of classes, but you can go well under that limit and only have one or two classes a semester.

While you won’t get through a degree in four years at that rate, for some people it’s a more realistic pace. This is especially true if you are trying to work a job or raise a family at the same time.

Cramming for a test the night before is never a good idea, especially if you go into the next day without enough sleep. Instead, breaking up your study sessions is easy to do if you’re thinking far enough ahead. Then again, for many classes, especially your first year or two of college, the courses are easy enough that simply going to each class is all the study time you need.

A College Degree is Necessary for a Good-Paying Job

This one comes from career-planning books and well-meaning adults looking to prod you toward a college degree. Having a college degree is no guarantee of a high-paying job, much less a job in the field you’ve studied for, according to this article from

This doesn’t mean that college is a bad idea. But in today’s recovering economy, employers are looking more for talent and ability than a degree that says you’ve studied and trained. As valuable as a college degree is, simply proving you can do a job is worth just as much in some places.

One job market that pays well but doesn’t require a college degree is management in retail and service industries. You’ll typically have to work your way up to management from lower levels if you don’t have a degree, but if you’re competent and hard-working it doesn’t take four years to get there.

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