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Four Common Misconceptions Movies Taught us About College

By Nancy Wood

I grew up reading books, studying television shows, and watching movies to learn all about the college experience. Over time, I cultivated a set of preconceived notions and ridiculous assumptions regarding what I could expect from a four-year university based solely on these three art forms. I was homeschooled throughout elementary, junior high, and high school, so you can imagine how easy it was for me to be coerced into believing that college would be exactly the way it was being portrayed in books, movies, and films, since I had never attended an actual brick-and-mortar school.

When I showed up on the first day of my freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin, however, I quickly realized that I had been misled by pop culture. Movies, especially, had made me believe that college would be one way when it turned out to be completely another. Over time, I got used to how different college was from homeschool, but it certainly wasn’t easy. If you’re about to venture away to college for the first time, here are four commons misconceptions you should know about. Not surprisingly, most of these misconceptions are themes you’ll see in popular young-adult films.

College is all about partying

Believe it or not, there is more to college than staying out all night partying and socializing. Although it’s nice to attend the occasional social event and meet new people, remember that you went to college to study and learn – not just to socialize. When you arrive at school, take some time to figure out how you’ll incorporate some balance into your social activities and academic commitments. Consider joining academic clubs, after-school tutorials, and study groups that will help you do well in school and not just transform you into a social butterfly. If you attempt to party day in and day out, you’ll eventually wear yourself down, and when it comes time to study for exams, midterms, and finals, you will hate yourself for burning the candle at both ends. It’s important to socialize and get to know people, but remember that academic commitments should always come first.

Underage drinking is acceptable

Underage drinking is prominent in young-adult movies. Although it’s rather rampant throughout society, that doesn’t means it’s accepted by universities. Keep in mind, whenever you’re on a college campus you are under constant watch and guard. You may think you’re in the clear when you’re behind closed doors at your dorm or a friend’s party, but don’t be fooled: you can easily be caught and punished for underage drinking. Sure, you might feel like a wet blanket if you don’t join in with everyone else and drink, but it’s better to follow the law than get in trouble. Universities don’t take matters that involve illegal alcohol consumption lightly. If you’re not careful, you may yourself undergoing disciplinary punishment, or worse, kicked off of campus.

You never have to attend class

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the fact that no one ever seems to attend class in college movies. Yes, it might not make the most interesting movie plot, but that doesn’t mean you can be like the actors and actresses and never attend class. If you plan on doing well in college, it’s of the utmost importance that you put in the work required for you to do so. Though it might seem difficult, try and attend every single one of your college classes. Missing even one class can set you back several days, and teachers usually develop numerous test questions from their lectures. Therefore, do yourself a huge favor and attend all your classes.

Cheating is acceptable

I don’t understand why, but numerous movies try and make cheating look as if it is acceptable. Make no mistake, cheating is a serious offense and one you never want to be caught doing. I remember an unfortunate incident during my freshman biology class when a student was caught copying test answers. Not only did she fail the exam, but she was also expelled from the university. University officials spend a lot of time carefully selecting and accepting their freshman class each year, so whenever they find out that a new student is cheating their way through school, it also makes them feel betrayed. To prevent yourself from being expelled, never take the easy way out and cheat. Stay honest and do your own work.

Movies are a great form of entertainment, but they often mislead us about what to expect from our everyday lives. If you’re about to move away to school, familiarize yourself with these four misconceptions about college.

Nancy Wood is a freelance education writer who currently works for onlinecollegeclasses.com. Nancy loves writing about education trends and often muses about what the classroom of tomorrow will look like. She also gives tips to aspiring college students. Feel free to send some comments her way!

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