Myths That College Students Should Stop Believing

Myths That College Students Should Stop Believing

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So many college students have times that they feel lost and isolated.  They mistakenly imagine that they are alone in their feelings.  They also persist in telling themselves things that reinforce their negative thinking and serve as obstacles to seeking the help they should get.  If this is you, it is time to examine your beliefs and take steps to move in a more positive direction.

Myth – “I am the only one who needs help. I’m not smart enough to be here.”
Every college offers tutoring, and many have additional resources for more specialized help, such as a writing center. These places exist because colleges expect students to need help.  No one is expected to come to college fully capable of taking on the increased demands without any assistance.  And colleges know that many students – with and without disabilities – will need help coping with classes that may call on their areas of academic weakness.At some schools, the number of sessions students can have in a week is limited precisely because colleges know that so many students will need help, and they need to make sure that all of the students who need help will have a chance to get it.  So students should stop feeling alone in needing help.

Don’t assume that because you never hear any of your friends talking about getting tutoring that this means that they’re not doing it.  They may just be shy about sharing this with anyone.

Myth – “Getting help with learning disabilities takes up time I don’t have.”
It’s an unfortunate truth that many high schools don’t typically teach students how to read for comprehension, take notes, highlight, and study effectively.  Often, the brightest students struggle at college because they never really had to try in high school in order to get good grades, and many students struggle because the college environment doesn’t allow them to boost their grades through daily homework completion, frequent quizzes, and extra credit.  This puts a lot of pressure on students to do well on the two exams or papers that make up their entire grade for the semester.Many students don’t know how they study or learn best.  They try to take down every word a professor says and are usually overwhelmed and frustrated at their inability to do this.  When they read, they end up highlighting most of the text and still have little retention of the information.  To study, they just read though their notes and highlighted texts and wonder why they don’t do well on exams.

Tutors will likely encourage you to plan out every week and teach you strategies for studying, reading, and reviewing that will take more time than your current methods do.

But if your own way of doing things is not producing the results you want, then the only logical thing to do is to choose a new way of approaching your studies.  You should focus on time management (you have to plan out your time very carefully, since there is so little structure at college) and on strategies that will make the time you spend reading and studying more effective.  While you may spend more time working, you are much more likely to get the grades you want.

Myth – “It is impossible to do all of the reading, and no one does it anyway.”
Don’t listen to other students who say that they don’t get through all of the assigned readings.  Some may be telling the truth and be doing well, but they are the exceptions to the rule.  Others may be telling you the truth, but you have no idea how this is affecting their academic performance.  Their perception of their ability to do well without reading all of the text may be inaccurate.The bottom line is that professors expect you to get through all of the readings they assigned (and they may think you should get through the “optional” readings, too); they do not share the opinion that the load they have assigned is ridiculous.  You are taking a calculated risk if you decide not to complete your reading assignments; you are taking a chance that your exam or paper will suffer because you don’t include a reference to something you were assigned to read.

Getting through your reading is possible; you just have to be strategic about it.  Every week, you need to make a plan for how you will break get through the chapters or articles you have to read.  Think about whether it’s easier to read one chapter at a time, or to break long ones up over the course of a day.

Using a technique such as SQ3R will not take you less time than simply going through your readings, but it will help you to remember what you have read and will leave you with notes you can use for later review.

However you choose to get through your readings, just remember that it will be easier to do if you keep up with it every week.  Reading becomes more difficult and inefficient when you’re under stress and trying to rush.

Myth – “My friend who completes his assignments on time is a better person than I am.” or “The fact that I do not do all of my reading/assignments or do not study enough for exams means I am morally deficient.”
Too many students put themselves into the category of “good” or “bad” person based upon how well they adhere to deadlines or on the grades they earn.  The bottom line is that there is no moral or ethical element to being a student – you just have to decide whether you want to be a successful student who is not anxious all the time.Meeting deadlines is simply a way to manage stress and give yourself your best chance to achieve good grades.  If you work on assignments over time, you will be able to get some feedback from a tutor or professor before you finalize your work that may help you to improve upon what you have done.  The same is true of exam preparation – doing this ahead of time allows you to get clarification of confusing information from professors and doing frequent reviews of information over time before your exams will help you retain it better.

You need to stop thinking of your academic performance as a moral issue – it isn’t.  And continuing to think of yourself as “bad” may prevent you from making the changes you need to in order to change the way you work.  Stop thinking about academic work in terms of morals and start thinking about what you can do to change the way you do things and the benefits you will enjoy if you work in a more effective way.

Myth – “Students with disabilities who get accomodations are fakers who are getting an advantage over everyone else.”
At college, students who want to receive accommodations for their disability have to provide proof of their condition to one person or a committee that operates on campus.  Sometimes, students who have been receiving accommodations at high school don’t receive them at college because their college does not think that they have provided enough proof.  So students should dismiss the notion that these students are fakers who have pulled something over on the college.When they do receive accommodations, these are carefully chosen to “level the playing field” for students who have disabilities, not to boost their performance.  Disability services offices at colleges are very careful about the accommodations for which they approve students because they have to make sure that nothing they approve alters a professor’s course or a program’s or the college’s requirements.  So students aren’t “getting away” with anything.

Furthermore, it’s called a disability for a reason.  Many of the students whose accommodations you might envy would gladly trade places with you.  A learning or other disability is permanent, and it will be with these students for the rest of their lives, affecting their career choices and other aspects of their lives.  So before you wish for your classmates’ situation, you should consider that the college years aren’t the last time your classmates will be affected by their disability.

Students with disabilities, for their part, should not buy into this all-too-common trope.  Too many students don’t ask for their accommodations at college because they also mistakenly think they’re being given an unfair advantage that they don’t deserve.  These students should take it for granted that no one at college is going to approve them for an accommodation that will do anything more than compensate for the effect of their disability to the point that it allows them to show what they know rather than places them in an advantageous position.  They should also know that there is nothing moral about deciding to do without the accommodations for which they have qualified.  They are not getting an advantage they shouldn’t have.

As with other elements of academic performance, there is no moral aspect to the choice to use accommodations; it is just a matter of being practical about utilizing the adjustments that have been deemed appropriate by someone at your college in order to allow you to compensate for the effects of your disability.  No one at the college is going to hand you an unfair opportunity to succeed, so don’t avoid asking for your accommodations on the basis of some notion that you shouldn’t because it’s unfair to your classmates.

Myth – “I don’t belong here, and eventually people will figure that out.”
Very few students make a seamless adjustment to college.  Many are living away from home for the first time, dealing with a high level of responsibility, and they may be in a new place meeting people who don’t share common experiences and background.  Students should expect a certain amount of discomfort and be assured that it is normal.  Any time you do something new, you are probably going to experience such feelings, and college is full of all kinds of new experiences.Talk to your friends – they’re likely feeling the same way.  If they’re not helpful – and especially if your discomfort is interfering with your eating, sleeping, or day-to-day functioning – make an appointment at the counseling center to speak to someone who can help you to feel better.

Just like the tutoring centers, these services exist because it is expected that students will struggle with their adjustment to college and colleges want them to seek assistance. Go talk to someone.