The Dirty Little
Secret of College
One in four college freshmen at four-year
universities do not return for their sophomore year. Community colleges fare
even worse with half not returning for the second year. Why? The reality of
college doesn't meet the expectations the students had when they were in high
Seattle Times reports that for many new college students, the intensity of the
pace and the amount of academic work can be overwhelming. Even though Advanced
Placement classes, which are designed to cover the same material as college
courses, have become more popular and accessible than ever before most--yes,
most--high school graduates are not prepared to enter college, the Times says
of numerous studies. Call it the dirty little secret of college. Stanford University
has another way to describe it: Betraying the college dream. The Bridge Project
at Stanford recently published a national report, based on information culled
from students, parents, and educators in six states, that list the top 10 myths
students believe about college.
How many of these myths top 10 myths
about preparing for and attending college do you believe?
- Myth No. 1: I
can't afford college.
Reality: Students and parents regularly overestimate the cost of college.
- Myth No. 2:
I have to be a stellar athlete or student to get financial aid.
Reality: Most students receive some form of financial aid.
- Myth No. 3: Meeting
high school graduation requirements will prepare me for college.
Reality: Adequate preparation for college usually requires a more demanding
curriculum than is reflected in minimum high school graduation requirements,
sometimes even if that curriculum is termed "college prep."
- Myth No. 4: Getting
into college is the hardest part.
Reality: For most students, the hardest part is completing college.
- Myth No. 5: Community
colleges don't have academic standards.
Reality: Students usually must take placement tests at community colleges
to qualify for college-level work.
- Myth No. 6: It's
better to take easier classes in high school and get better grades.
Reality: One of the best predictors of college success is taking rigorous
high school classes. Getting good grades in lower-level classes will not prepare
students for college-level work.
- Myth No. 7: My
senior year in high school doesn't matter.
Reality: The classes students take in their senior year will often determine
the classes they are able to take in college and how well-prepared they are
for those classes.
- Myth No. 8: I
don't have to worry about my grades or what classes I take until my sophomore
Reality: Many colleges look at sophomore grades, and in order to enroll in
college-level courses, students need to prepare well for college. This means
taking a well-thought-out series of courses starting no later than ninth or
- Myth No. 9: I
can't start thinking about financial aid until I know where I'm going to college.
Reality: Students need to file a federal aid form before most colleges send
out acceptance letters. This applies to students who attend community colleges,
too, even though they can apply and enroll in the fall of the year they wish
- Myth No. 10:
I can take whatever classes I want when I get to college.
Reality: Most colleges and universities require students to take placement
exams in core subject areas. Those tests will determine the classes students