Myths Your High School Teachers Made You Believe About College

If you’re anything like me, all throughout high school I heard horror stories from my teachers about how serious college was, and how difficult the classes would be.When I was a freshman, I was terrified to start my intro courses and I imagined failing every single one. I quickly realized, college classes are NOT what high school teachers make them out to be. I know it’s not the same at every university, but here are the top five myths my high school teachers made me believe that turned out to be completely false:


1) College professors are strict, scary and unwilling to work with you.

One of the most frequent things I heard from my high school teachers was about how professors are super strict and mean, and they’re not really concerned with your well-being. Maybe it’s just because I go to a relatively small school, but almost every professor I’ve had has been extremely helpful and willing to work with me. My professors repeatedly go out of their way to help me with assignments, not only for their classes, but independent projects as well. Classroom rules do exist, but they’re not any harsher than what we had in high school. 


2) Calculators are not allowed.

In high school, my math teachers swore that public colleges in Tennessee had banned graphing calculators from being used in any lower-division math courses. To prepare us, my senior year pre-calculus teacher stopped allowing us to use calculators in class and taught us how to do every formula completely by hand. I’ve been in college for four years, taken three lower-division math courses and I have never heard of calculators not being allowed. In fact, pretty much the entirety of those math classes was just doing work on my calculator. I’m still not sure why all my teachers made us believe this, but I’m so glad it wasn’t true. 


3) There’s no way to bring up a bad grade. 

My high school teachers always told us that college grades are set in stone, and there’s no way to ever help a bad grade. This is the complete opposite of what I’ve experienced in my classes. In my classes, professors have offered test corrections, curved test grades, and more extra credit than I know what to do with. Yes, you do have to study harder for exams in college, but there are definitely plenty of opportunities to help keep you from failing.


4) You must ALWAYS be extremely professional when communicating with your professors.

Yes, you DO have to be professional when talking to professors, especially ones you haven’t had before. With that being said, professors are people too, and once you get to know them and become more comfortable around them you can talk to them more casually. There’s several professors I know that I can email without all the formalities, or run to their office and ask a quick question. I’ve even had several upper-division professors give the class their cell phone numbers to text them if we ever have any questions. 


5) All you do in college is write papers.

This is something I’ve heard my entire life, and I honestly thought college would be nothing but writing papers. I can honestly say that most of my classes have had either one or two papers for the entire semester, and most of them only require about five to seven pages tops. If anything, I’ve spent a majority of my time reading textbook chapters to prepare for in-class discussions. 


Like I said, every student’s college experience is different, especially depending on your major and school. However, I believe that the tendency for high school teachers to terrify you in an effort to prepare you for college can be very discouraging, and could possibly even prevent some people from attending college at all. Hopefully these teachers will be more honest with their students about the realities of college in the future.