5 Myths about the First Day of College

Students participating in a college class by raising their hands to answer the professor.

Flickr user Converse College

With all the movies, TV shows, and tall tales out there, you might have a preconceived idea of what college is like. But the truth can get a little skewed as it’s passed down the line to you, and that can lead to some unrealistic fears or false expectations. But don’t worry, we’re here to bust a few myths and set your mind at ease.

Here are 5 myths about the first day of freshman year!

You’ll get hopelessly lost

Large or small, campuses can be confusing. If you’re worried about getting lost, walk your schedule before the first day. Familiarize yourself with the campus before class starts and you can avoid some stress.

Even if you do find yourself turned around–just ask someone for directions. It’s not as scary as it sounds. Upperclassmen remember what it was like being a freshman, and will be happy to point you in the right direction. It’s better to just go up to someone for help than wander around and be late.

Speaking of being late…

Late students are locked out of the classroom

This one is simply not true. For the first week or two professors understand that students are getting used to their new surroundings. Oftentimes they won’t penalize you for being a few minutes late.

Even once the semester is well underway, many students have 15 minutes to run between classes that are on the other side of campus. It’s not uncommon to see people slip into class or lecture after it’s started. If this is the case, just let your teacher or professor know. They’ll understand. If you try to make an effort to be on time, they’ll notice.

Upperclassmen will haze / bully you

Many freshman students believe upperclassmen can single them out as if they have a big stamp on their forehead that says FRESHMAN TARGET. While it might be easy to pick out the student looking down at a fold-out map as a freshman, most of the time you just can’t tell who is in what year. With ages so close, it’s often a guessing-game.

(True story: my junior year I became friends with this girl and after hanging out for several months I talked about senior classes I would be taking the next year. She looked at me with wide-eyes and a gaping jaw and said: “Senior?! I thought you were a sophomore!”)

Even if all classes came with a label, it’s unlikely upperclassmen will actually pick on the new kids. They were freshmen once, after all, and most are too busy to bother with it. That being said, if any one does bully or harass you–for whatever reason–it’s important to go tell an RA or student health counseling. No one should ever be put down or harassed about anything.

Where you sit will be where you sit the whole semester

Not really. This goes for all types of classes, but especially lectures. Students tend to jump around in where they sit, depending on seating availability, when they arrive, or where friends are sitting. Assigned seating is very rare when you get to college.

However, it should be noted that some people get sort of territorial about where they sit. By which I mean they favor a certain area and can get grumpy if their spot is usurped. Most of the semester they might have one place where they sit, and find that seat taken come midterm or finals time when half of the class they didn’t know existed suddenly show up.

So sit where you want to sit. If you struggle to focus or stay awake, try sitting towards the front.

You’ll only cover the syllabus on the first day

This might be the case for many classes, but not for all. So don’t go in without a notebook, a pen, laptop, or other necessary materials. It’s always better to be prepared, even if you over-prepare in the end.

Some classes will launch straight into the material. Others might have asked you to complete a reading or assignment before even coming to class. Most will do a balance of syllabus-reading, expectations, and material.