Debunking college myths: Grace talks to Greg about what to expect


Grace Gaydosh

Grace’s expectation of studying in college differs from Greg’s reality of studying.

by Grace Gaydosh and Greg Gaydosh

For high school students, especially juniors and seniors, there can be lots of misperceptions about college– excitement, nervousness, and rumors can create these misperceptions. There are so many things to look forward to. There are also some unknowns that might worry you. You might have some questions. Believe me… if you’re obsessing about the future, someone else probably is, too. 

Endless freedom, parties, and an awesome roommate are typical stereotypes you would see in a movie or a TV show. They give the illusion that college is going to be the best four years of our lives. Of course time in college will be unforgettable, but it’s always good to be prepared for reality.

Greg Gaydosh is a senior at the University of Maryland and will graduate with a BA in psychology with a minor in history. He gave advice to his “little sister” Grace. She is finalizing her 4-year choice this spring. All of his responses are unique to his own experience at the University of Maryland, and should not be looked at as a complete overgeneralization for all college experiences. All “reality” responses are just Greg’s reality at UMD. 

Grace’s expectation: Homesickness will hit hard the first semester.

Greg’s reality: For me, I lived only an hour away from my house, so I did not get too homesick. It is kind of weird to sleep in a room with a person you may not know. My roommate was a childhood friend, so I didn’t have to deal with this. It may be different to eat all of your meals at a dining hall. You will likely miss your family, friends, and house, but with FaceTime and Skype, most people are just a quick call away. 

Grace’s expectation: Time management is going to be hard.

Greg’s reality: I think that this simply comes down to what kind of person you are and what kinds of time management skills you have already developed. For some, time management is difficult, and I just happen to be a person who struggles with it sometimes. When you are balancing everything out, which for me was my classes, band, student organizations, and relationships, it may be difficult. It could be beneficial to write everything down and have a physical calendar to plan each week. 

Grace’s expectation: Dining hall food is going to be inedible.

Greg’s reality: I am going to be honest, I think dining hall food is usually terrible. The food can be not the best at times, but you may have to just suck it up. This totally depends on the university, so if food is important to you, make sure to eat at one of the campus dining halls before deciding to attend that university. There are plenty of other options for using meal points.

Grace’s expectation: College students don’t use their meal plans; they eat Ramen and chips for dinner.

Greg’s reality: This one is actually pretty funny. Remember that either you or your parents are paying for your dining plan, so you better use it. I have found that I have eaten more measly meals since I moved off campus and off of the dining plan. If you are on your dining plan,I recommend eating the food on your plan. 

Grace’s expectation: The library isn’t actually the best place to study.

Greg’s reality: So I am pretty divided on the library. For group work, I think that it can be helpful to meet up at the library and really get work done. I usually do most of my studying and homework from the comfort of my bed, which is just a preference. I know some people who can only really focus at the library. There are computer labs and student areas that may be good, too. Try studying and working in different settings to see what works best for you.

Grace’s expectation: Joining as many clubs/organizations as possible your freshman year is a good idea.

Greg’s reality: I would say in my experience, I have been a part of some really awesome groups and I didn’t find them by just signing up for everything. I think it is good to go to a fair where all of the student organizations pass out flyers about their organizations. I would say it’s good to go to a lot of meetings early on to see which organizations you really want to put your time and energy into. With me, I have focused primarily on one organization, Camp Kesem, which provides a week-long camp for children who have parents afflicted with cancer. It has allowed me to develop some close friendships with some amazing people. Find what you’re into and go for it.  

Grace’s expectation: Greek life is overrated.

Greg’s reality: This all depends on what kind of person you are and what you are hoping to get out of college. I was never really into the whole Greek life thing, but some people really found a great group of friends and have enjoyed it. This also could depend on the school. If you crave the guaranteed parties and social events, then Greek life could be for you. I have made some awesome friendships at college and do not find my social life lacking. 

Grace’s expectation: Skipping one college class is like skipping three high school classes.

Greg’s reality: In my first couple years as a college student, I rarely skipped my classes. I would not advise skipping class early on in your college career. As I entered my junior and senior classes, I have skipped more often though. I wouldn’t say I skip frequently, but it all depends on the class. If it is not required to attend the lecture and there may be a recording or the slides uploaded online, I will be less likely to go. If attendance is mandatory for discussion sections or labs, I never skip because then you could lose major points. 

Grace’s expectation: College means getting away from high school drama.

Greg’s reality: At a big school like Maryland, I would like to think that there are no cliques in the broad scheme, but I guess that would be naive. Within organizations, dorms, and other groups, cliques tend to form. I wouldn’t say it’s cliques, but rather, it’s friend groups. You tend to spend time with the people you get along with. For example, you will likely form a little pocket of friends within your freshman dorm that you spend a lot of time with the remaining three years.

Grace’s expectation: You didn’t study a lot in high school and you passed, so it’s the same in college

Greg’s reality: I definitely did not study nearly as much in high school as I have done in college. I have studied much harder for college exams. It is super important to try and be proactive with your studying. As I stated above about attendance, actually attending class in your earlier college years makes studying for exams a bit easier. 

Grace’s expectation: Finals week means all-nighters, pots of coffee, and make it or break it grades.

Greg’s reality: Finals week is actually fairly tough and you may question your sanity at times, which is completely normal. Make sure that you just study ahead of time so that you do not have to cram the night before for two finals you have on the same day. Make sure to take breaks and take care of yourself, and you should be fine.