Fact or Fiction: Common College Myths
Beware of some of the common myths about college. If you believe them, you could be misled into making bad decisions. Knowledge is power, so we've separated fact from fiction to help you through the process.
Myth #1: A college's "sticker price" is the amount my family and I will pay for me to attend college.
It's easy to confuse the "net cost of college" with the "sticker price" of a college. The college's "sticker price" (or published cost of attendance) adds up tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and other expenses. Your net cost of college could be much less than the sticker price because net cost reflects the price after subtracting grants, scholarships, and other tuition discounts. Always make your decisions based on the net cost, NOT the "sticker price."
Myth #2: The college with the lowest "sticker price" is the most affordable.
You CAN'T determine which college is the most affordable by comparing the "sticker prices." The "sticker price" does not take into account the student aid a college will offer you. A college with a larger "sticker price" may offer you more student aid than another college with a smaller "sticker price." Compare the net costs of the colleges to make a smart decision about affordability.
Myth #3: The best time to visit a college is after you have been admitted.
Visiting a college is a great way to get a feel for it. Visit a college before you apply and again after you've been accepted. Try to visit when classes are in session to interact with some of the professors and students. If you cannot experience the college first hand, speak with some of the college's alumni, watch videos that students post online, or explore the college's website.
Myth #4: I need to choose my major before I start college.
You do not need to declare a major before you start college. Many students enter college without choosing a major. If you are undecided, take the first year to try a range of classes. Thinking about what you enjoy and careers that interest you should help narrow down your list of potential majors. Although academics and your major are very important to consider when selecting a college, they are not the only factors. Try to focus on colleges that won't overburden you with debt, attract students like you, and have environments to match your style and personality.
Myth #5: I don't need to start preparing for college until my junior or senior year of high school.
It's never too early to prepare for college. The earlier you start exploring career options and college costs, the less stressful college planning will be when you are a junior and senior. You can start by setting up a savings plan with your family to help pay for college. Talk to family members, friends, and other mentors about their college experiences. Find out what they liked and didn't like about college to help you with your college search. Make an appointment with your school counselor as a freshman to learn about the academic requirements at the colleges that interest you.
Myth #6: There is only one perfect college for me.
You will find that many colleges fit your college dreams and bank account. Rather than searching for one perfect college, focus your energy on finding the right type of college for you. There are about 6,500 colleges in the U.S., and each is unique in its own right. Explore a wide range of colleges and keep an open mind. Not limiting your options gives you the best opportunity to find the colleges that fit your personality, goals, and personal circumstances. Learn more about college selection criteria to help with your college search.
Myth #7: I don't have time to go to college.
Most colleges offer very flexible scheduling to fit your lifestyle. Evening, weekend, and even online classes are available. You can also consider enrolling part-time. Colleges know students must balance their personal lives and academics. If you shortchange yourself by not going to college, you will likely earn less money as an adult.
Myth #8: Since I don't have a stellar academic record, it will be too hard for me to get into college.
Colleges decide whom to accept based on many factors. While your high school grade point average (GPA) and test scores are important, colleges look beyond academics. They consider your work and athletic accomplishments, your community activities, your application essay, and your recommendation letters. Sometimes, colleges factor in which region of the country you're from to help keep their campus diversified. Or, a college might like you for a specific reason – like being a terrific tuba player or a champion debater. Instead of focusing on your GPA and test scores, show colleges that you are really motivated and ready to pursue your college education.
Myth #9: I can't afford to pay for college.
Many students falsely believe they cannot afford college. Nearly all students are eligible for some financial aid to pay for college. Loans, grants, tuition reimbursement, work-study, and scholarships can all make your college dreams a reality. Even if you work full-time or have existing student loans, you may still qualify for student aid.
Myth #10: If I transfer to another college, I will lose all the credits I have earned.
Many colleges today will accept credits earned from another college.
It is wise to check with your new college and verify if your credits will be accepted.
The last thing you want is to delay your graduation date because this could increase the total cost of your degree.