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Six Myths about Preparing for College


You get a lot of advice in high school about what to do for college and what will be expected of you. About half of that advice is fictional and unnecessary busy work. Your time is precious in high school (as it will be in college) and you don’t want to waste any of it on preparations for college that are unwarranted. Here are six myths they tell you in high school about college prep.

Myth #1: Write down all the books you’ve read. I heard this useless bit of advice in high school and attempted it unsuccessfully. The supposed merit of this advice was to use in a college application. The list of books you’ve read is not important in any college application. What’s more important and what needs your immediate attention is your level of writing and reading comprehension skills. If you can’t tell where a comma goes or what makes a complete sentence, you want to work on improving those skills instead of making a superfluous catalog.

Myth #2: Write down everything that’s due. Unless you can handle a six-page Word document of everything you have to turn in before the semester is do, don’t do this. Writing down everything that you have to do for the week is useful, but if you make a list for the semester, you’ll become overwhelmed and stressed. Instead of trying to make a cumulative list of every little thing to do, keep daily lists and monthly reminders. These are nowhere near as scary and are more manageable. Write down small tasks and break up your semester into parts. Keep track of what’s due soon, but don’t make a list of what is due in two months.

Myth #3: Sign up for as many clubs as you can. If you sign up for as many clubs as you can, you will become overcommitted, stressed, and will start struggling. Don’t do this to yourself. Find a few clubs that you can handle along with a full schedule and a job. Make life easier, but not undistinguished. You still want to have something to fill the white space on your resume.

Myth #4: Keep your high school notes. Most everything that you’ll learn in college will be completely different from what you were taught in high school. The five-paragraph essay format is thrown out the window and a hypothesis is no longer an educated guess. Whatever nuggets of knowledge you may think are good to keep from high school won’t do you any good in college. Those notes also just take up much-needed space when you’re moving into your dorm. The only notes you may want to keep from high school are your notes from math class. It doesn’t really vary from high school to college. Solving x2-8x+4 by completing the square isn’t going to change.

Myth #5: Avoid credit cards. College may be one of the best times to start building good credit. If you stay busy and have a full class schedule, chances are you won’t have a lot of free time. Apply for one credit card specifically targeted towards students and make sure it’s one with an introductory 0% APR. This rate usually lasts for a few months and leaves you without interest and an easy way to pay off debt and build credit. You can also have it as a gas-only credit card or a grocery-only credit card. By limiting what you can buy with the credit card, you decrease your chances of going on a wild shopping spree and claiming you needed $2,000 in back-to-school clothes.

Myth #6: Sit in the front row. The way some of the classrooms are built in my university makes it difficult for any student to sit in the very first row. The professor’s podium is usually not even two feet from the first row. Sitting there would be like sitting in the first row at the movie theatre: painful and confusing. Sit where you’re comfortable and make sure that it’s not in the very back; otherwise, you’ll just end up working on something else or surfing Tumblr for photos. Either way, don’t sit in the very front or the very back. Be like Goldilocks. The middle is just right.

When preparing for college, you’re going to be bombarded with advice, but don’t try to listen to them all, especially these ones. Whatever advice you choose to follow should make sense and be something worth your time.

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