Milestone Misconceptions: Freshmen Year of College and Freshmen Year of Life


Have you been to Smart, Pretty and Awkward?  We have a definite girl crush on Molly who uses her genius to help women across the internet become smarter, prettier and less awkward.  Who doesn’t need that?

She wonderfully offered us this great post she wrote about common misconceptions of the Freshman Year of College AND the Freshman Year of Life (for our amazing new graduates.)  What would you add to the list?


By Molly Ford,

There are a lot of misconceptions regarding milestones, especially during times of change. Today, we will dive into two major areas of misconceptions surrounding freshmen year of college and freshmen year of life.

Freshmen Year of College

1. MISCONCEPTION: Your first roommate will be your roommate all four years.

REALITY: It’s awesome if you and your roommate get along great, but you need to be prepared you might just be roommates, not best friends. It’s not a failure if you only live together a year and then switch to live with someone else. There is also a chance that you dislike the situation so much, that you need to switch mid-year.

SOLUTION: If the living situation is bad or you feel unsafe, talk to your RA about switching mid-year. If the living situation is okay but not your favorite, start scouting new potential roommates around the end of first semester as you will probably have to put in your housing request forms at the beginning of second semester.

2. MISCONCEPTION: You major going into college will be the major you graduate with.

REALITY: You might change your major, or your concentration, or the entire school you attend, by senior year. And that’s a good thing! College is about trying new things, not getting locked into something you don’t like or a bubble you checked off mindlessly when you were applying.

SOLUTION: Take tons of classes that spark your interest. I went into college with one major, Entrepreneurship, and by the time I graduated, I was double-majoring in Finance and Entrepreneurship with a minor in Sociology. I got interested in Finance after dating someone who was a Finance major and being intrigued by his Economics classes, and I got interested in Sociology through a required course I had to take for an elective. You never know!

3. MISCONCEPTION: If you don’t rush a sorority freshmen year, you will never get to rush.

REALITY: Although it is not talked about much, in many schools you can rush as a sophomore or even a junior.

SOLUTION: Double-check with your school’s Greek Life policies, but, in most cases, it’s perfectly fine for non-freshmen to rush. There is no rush in rushing!

4. MISCONCEPTION: All required classes are boring.

REALITY: Your required classes, outside of your major, might be where you find your passion in something you didn’t know existed.

SOLUTION: Head into everything with an open mind. Required classes are also where kids from different majors mingle, so if you go to a big school (like I did), it’s a good way to meet people outside of your program.

5. MISCONCEPTION: Everyone will have same schedule as you.

REALITY: Compared to high school, where everyone is in classes from 7-3 and then heads to clubs and sports after school, college schedules are much more all-over-the-place. You could have classes 9-11, a long break, and then classes 4-6. And that could be just your Tuesday schedule…other days could be totally different. Your friends and your roommates might have 8ams, you might have no classes two days a week, or any other combination. Somedays you will eat lunch alone, because all your friends will be in classes, and somedays you will eat lunch with 5 other people because your schedules line up for that day.

SOLUTION: Flexibility (and the ability to memorize not only your schedule, but also your best friend’s!) is key. There will also be a temptation to fritter away your new unscheduled time, so be prepared to be more self-motivated than you were in high school.

Freshmen Year of Life

1. MISCONCEPTION: Your first job is the industry you will work in forever.

REALITY: Your first job is a stepping stone, and, for most people, is not their dream, or even their ideal, job. Take the jobs for the skills you will develop, and then tailor your resume so it plays up your skills that can ulitmately help you land a “better” job. And remember: maybe the industry you ultimately end up in, doesn’t exist yet or you didn’t know it could be a full-time job. When I started college, the field of online marketing barely existed. I couldn’t have majored in what I do, simply because it didn’t exist.

SOLUTION: Keep an open mind about what you want to do, and keep developing skills that can be used in many industries (for me, I spent my first job working on developing my sales skills so I could use them to help me land my second job, which was a much better fit for me).

2. MISCONCEPTION: Your college friends will remain your only friends.

REALITY: You are entering a new social circle, where a mix of work friends, friends of friends, college friends’ home friends, and more will all enter into your social circle. Your new friends might be your age, but some of them will likely be older than you too, and in different life stages. It was a big surprise to me when I graduated college that some of my new good friends were married!

SOLUTION: Meet new people everywhere, and try to cultivate as many of them as possible into friendships. A coffee date with someone new is the best way to strike up a ‘girl friendship.’ Some relationships will fizzle out over time (that’s natural) but others will thrive.

3. MISCONCEPTION: Everyone else is on a romantic timeline, so you need to be, too.

REALITY: Some people are on very specific, post-college romanic timelines. Example: Find the guy by X date, engaged by X date, married by X date. It is wonderful to be proactive about what you are passionate about (in this case, finding a life partner), but if that is not something on your agenda currently, or you are focusing on other things, don’t let other people’s timelines stress you out. I also don’t advocate putting yourself on a strict romantic timeline, because if the deadline comes and goes without a ring, I don’t want you to feel like a failure.

SOLUTION: Take everything everyone else says with a grain of salt. Be supportive of other’s goals, but don’t make them your own if it doesn’t work for you.

4. MISCONCEPTION: It’s okay to have a mini-meltdown in public.

REALITY: In a lot of ways, graduating college means emotional independence–some feelings are meant to be kept more private than they were in college. You will always have your trusted group of family and friends you can cry in front of, but if you have to cry at work, head to the bathroom.

SOLUTION: If you live in a city far from friends and family, you still have a support system: you just need to dial them on the phone instead of walking into their dorm room.

5. MISCONCEPTION: Your resources will stay the same.

REALITY: In college, so much is at your fingertips, especially regarding financial decisions, career services and health services. In the real world, there are still people who will help you with these things, you just need to work harder to find them. Instead of a quick directory search on your college website, it’s a few more clicks and a few more phone calls.

SOLUTION: One of the hardest things post-college is figuring out financial/insurance problems. Reach out to adults/parents and your HR department to help you navigate decisions surrounding 401Ks and finding new doctors that take your insurance. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for an experienced mentor at your new job who can help you figure out strategic career moves and advocate for you to upper management for challenging projects. People are usually very flattered when they are asked to be your mentor, so don’t shy away from asking someone you admire.
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