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7 Freshman Year Myths

Most incoming college freshmen have assumptions about what student life will be like at school. While some ideas are true -- the cafeteria food probably isn't prepared by gourmet chefs and your dorm room likely won't have a Jacuzzi -- other assumptions can make you feel "different" or as if you don't measure up. Freshman year is a maze of possibilities, so don't let these myths about student life get you down:

1. Everyone hooks up or has a relationship.
"People do hook up and have relationships freshman year, but not everyone," says Amy Bass, a junior at the University of Vermont (Burlington, VT). "I was one who didn't have this experience. It's not something I ever felt pressured to do." Other students say that student life in the dorm makes the pressure worse since you're living in close quarters. "You start thinking that if you don't get that guy or girl you've been eyeing soon, that someone else down the hall will get them first," explains Tanya Hammad from Caly Poly San Luis Obispo (San Luis Obispo, CA). A meaningful relationship takes time and effort, which you may not have when you're first starting college. So don't feel bad if you're alone -- and never ever hook up if it makes you feel uncomfortable.

2. The freshman 15 will pay you a visit.
The consensus on this myth depends on who you ask. While some say that gaining weight is an inevitable part of student life, studies point to only about five to eight pounds. "Not everyone gains the freshman 15. I didn't," recalls Emily Wilber, a senior at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI). "Most cafeterias put nutrition facts on all the food and have workout facilities, plus you walk everywhere you go. As long as you're careful, eat regular meals, and make sure you aren't ordering out pizza every night at 3 a.m., you can avoid weight gain." Most students agree that the worst thing you can do is drink, especially on a weekly basis, so stay away from the alcohol.

3. You can party all the time and ace your classes.
Yes, there are the few that can pull this off, but for the most part you'll have to study if you want to return sophomore year. "There will always be some time for fun," says Emily, "but the hardest part of college is finding a balance among sleep, studying, and social life that works for you and sticking to it." Gef Gove, a sophomore at the University of Vermont (Burlington, VT) agrees, "I tell all students who come on tour with me that college is what you make of it. If you want to party every night there is no one here to stop you. The reality, though, is that if you want to succeed you're better off partying less."

4. The cafeteria food will suck.
Believe it or not, some students actually like cafeteria food (some even love it!). You get tons of items to choose from, including salad bars, cereal, fresh fruits, desserts, soups, drinks, and a variety of hot entrees. Most schools offer vegetarian or vegan entrees and will listen to suggestions -- so voice your opinion. There will probably never be another time in your whole life when you'll have so many choices at every meal, so enjoy the variety (and not having to do dishes) while you've got it.

5. You'll be a poor college student.
Okay, sure, this myth may be likely. "Unless rich parents are pouring money into your bank account, money will be tight, but it's fun and part of the experience," says Aaron Mendes, a graduate of Syracuse University Management School (Syracuse, NY). Living in the dorms can actually be a bonus in student life for saving money and many schools require dorm living for the first two years. You'll reduce the cost of rent and food this way, plus it's simpler. There's no grocery shopping to deal with or trying to split the bills among four people. Some students also get part-time jobs, although this can be tough if you play a sport or have a lot of extracurricular activities. Having the right attitude makes all the difference.

6. Your freshman seminar class will be boring.
A few surprises can come out of this class. For one thing, it's a great place to meet friends, as well as an opportunity to be in a classroom with such a diverse group of students. Once you are taking classes that are only related to your major, the pool of students you interact with grows smaller. "I had a great experience with my freshman seminar class," says William Jacobson, a sophomore at the University of San Francisco (San Francisco, CA). "But most 'freshman classes' may be boring because they are general requirements. As one progresses into their major, the classes will be much more interesting." Hallelujah!

7. You won't have friends unless you join a fraternity/sorority.
This is one of the biggest myths of all. While Greek life is important for some, many students decide not to join until their sophomore year or even not to join at all. If you're thinking about going Greek just to fit into a group or be accepted, you may want to consider doing it for the right reasons and not just as an extension of feeling insecure. At a big school, going Greek can make the campus seem smaller and be a wonderful avenue to getting involved. Just remember, Greek life is not essential to making friends. Meeting people tends to happen in stages, from dorm buddies, to classmates, to actively seeking out common interests. Whether you're into football games or poetry readings, it is inevitable you will end up making friends.

With the right attitude, freshman year will be one of the best experiences of your life. As Dr. Seuss says, "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose," (Oh The Places You'll Go, Random House, 1990). So go for it!

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