The Freshman Experience: Dispelling Two Myths

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So now I’m a second-semester freshman and I am finally getting the hang of what college is all about. And there are two myths that I was told over and over again were not true when I first got here, but I only now agree. I wish I had believed my older friends when they promised me these parts of college were just a stereotype. Instead I shied away from people my first semester, assuming college just couldn’t be so perfect.

First, upperclassmen are not nearly as scary as they seem. Despite the equal age gap between a freshman and senior in high school versus college, the latter feels much smaller. Last semester, I kept far away from anyone who didn’t fit the “oh-my-gosh-I-am-new-so-let’s-hang-out” stereotype. It was comforting to be with people in my same position. I loved my classes with only freshmen. Strength in numbers.

Now, I am the only freshman in my Spanish class, and I have to speak along with the Spanish majors and native speakers. I am also one of the few first years in my Intro to Linguistics class. And instead of feeling intimidated by my seniors, I used them as resources. In Spanish, I talk to majors and people who already studied abroad. It doesn’t matter our age if it’s an introduction course; we’re all learning something new in Linguistics. I wish I had talked to the sophomores, juniors and seniors more last semester. I feel like they would’ve been a great support system.

Another important myth I’ve learned is not true is that professors don’t care about their students. I go to a smaller college, so there are relatively small classes and we’re never taught by TAs. All of my professors have office hours, and I must admit, last semester I was scared to death to meet with them alone. I was sure they’d find my questions simplistic and not worth their time. This is not the case. From emails to office hours to asking questions after and during class, my professors have been so accessible. Whenever I get confused, they’re there. Two of my professors even gave out their home and cell numbers. To them, it’s not their job to lecture and give out grades. This isn’t just a cushy research position with the pesky requirement of teaching, too. It’s their job to help students understand. I finally appreciate that.

If I could have known that these myths were false on the first day of classes last fall, I think I would’ve felt much more comfortable in class. I probably would have created stronger relationships with my previous semester’s professors and I would have more than just freshman friends. Hopefully I can work on that this semester, and maybe next year I’ll be able to warn a freshman from believing the stereotypical college myths of professors and upperclassmen.

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