There is no limit to the unqualified, sometimes unwanted advice people like to spout when you’re headed to university. It’s like they’re all trying to recite phrases from some university help book – one that was poorly researched and only about half accurate. This wouldn’t be much of a problem if it didn’t stir up a whole host of misconceptions about university.
But, after a term and a half, I can say with slight confidence that I think I know a little better. I can say that much of what my parents (and other peoples’ parents) told me about their experiences doesn’t really apply any more. So, let’s take some of those misconceptions and make like a very underwhelming episode of Mythbusters: let’s bust some university myths.
Number 1: “Lectures aren’t fun/good/enjoyable.” I heard this one often and loudly from other people’s older siblings, and from my parents remembering their experiences. Even high school teachers seemed to imply that lectures were going to be hard. Generally, people weren’t too kind in talking about listening to someone talk for two hours each week.
We can stop that train of thought right here and now: lectures aren’t inherently bad, in fact, they’ve been the most enjoyable part of university so far (for me, at least). Go into them with an open mind, and desire to learn about the subject matter, and you might actually have some fun. Not to mention, most UTM professors are pretty great at not being excessively boring.
Number 2: “Your professors don’t care if you succeed.” As with lectures, I heard all the time that in university, students were numbers. Names, faces, these things were not going to be important. And professors caring about student success? Based on what I heard, I could forget about that.
Again, totally not true. Maybe it feels that way, given the size of classes. But if professors didn’t care about student success, why would they take the time to post slides online, make practice quizzes, or give extra help through office hours? Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like this whole ‘the profs don’t care’ thing really doesn’t ring true to my experience thus far.
Number 3: “You’re not going to have time to have a social life.” Most people also mentioned that it would be either this, or it would be all social life and no work. I find that it isn’t a lack of time that’s stopping my social life. It’s a total, complete lack of energy. Who wants to be social when you could take a nap instead?
But, at the same time, there is more than enough time to balance a social life, school work, and even a job- provided you figure out what that balance looks like. Nonetheless, social life can exist (Yay!) which was not something I totally expected. The catch? That social life may have to be slightly limited. But, like me, I’m sure you’ll find a way to manage.
Number 4: “Your grade average will drop by 20%.” This was something a lot of people said to me, and often as well. It was like they were trying to prepare me (a very anxious person with unreasonably high self-expectations) for a new kind of failure. And I appreciate the sentiment, but as it turns out, it’s not totally necessary.
Though this may be true for some people (and there’s no problem with that), it is not by any means certain. If it does happen, no big deal. First year is a time to adjust to a new way of learning. GPA is not the end all, be all of your life. If not? Then great – no need to prepare mentally for getting different grades than you’re used to. Either way, this thing that people mentioned many times is not the Terrible Horrible phenomenon they made it out to be.
So, whether you’re already a UTM student looking back on the university myths from high school, or a prospective student looking into what student life is like, remember not everything everyone says is going to be completely certain. The individual experience is going to vary from person to person – and no matter what yours looks like, it’s going to be great.