Are you starting University in the next couple of weeks or thinking of going to University? You may have heard a lot of rumours and have certain expectations about going, so before you do I’m setting some things straight and busting 10 of the most common university myths and misconceptions that I’ve heard floating about.
What university myths have you heard?
A little bit about me first if you’re interested in why you should listen to anything I say! I went to University in London, in the UK. I did my MSci Undergraduate degree and went on to do a PhD, both in Physics. I’ve taught first, second, third and fourth year undergraduate students since 2015. I’ve also taught many six form and high school students, and given courses, workshops and lectures about my research and about University in general.
University myths busted
There are SO MANY University myths and a lot of them are just plain lies. I’m obviously not covering them all here, just the 10 most common things I’ve heard people say or ask me about!
1. First year doesn't count🙅🏻♀️
This is such a common University myth and was something which I was told time and time again, but it’s NOT TRUE!
I did a Physics degree, and they based what modules you could take in your third and fourth year on ALL of your previous years results. My degree also included your first year grade in your final overall result but it only accounted for around 7% for an MSci and 14% for a BSc. BUT the point I’m trying to make here is that in the first year, for people who came in the bottom 30% they either kicked out or made them retake the entire year!
Whether or not your first year results are included in your final degree grade depends not only on your university but on the type of degree and subject you do. BUT even if your course doesn’t include it in your final grade, your first year does matter!
Many opportunities later on in your degree depends on the results you’ve already achieved. Whether it’s an extra project, doing a year abroad or in industry, they will rely on the grades which you’ve got up to that point.
Don’t ruin and shut off opportunities just because you think your grade doesn’t count! Fist year for me was also the easiest year, as universities make sure everyone is building up from the same foundations for the rest of their degree. It’s the year in which everyone from all different schools can get on the same level, so don’t get left behind!
2. You have to live in student halls to make the most of the "university experience"
As an undergraduate student, I did it all! I lived out and lived at home and let me tell you – it doesn’t make a huge difference!
You will have SO MANY “sleepovers” – just another way of saying crashing at your mates flat after a night out. Even if you do live out, people end up crashing at a friends house after a late end. I found that at during my time at uni, it didn’t matter where people lived. You can still go on nights out with friends whether you live closer to campus or stay at home.
While I lived near campus, which for me was in central London, I always had friends staying with me after almost every single night out, regardless of whether they lived nearby or away at home. I too stayed at friends houses, even if I lived close by! So I definitely don’t think there is any concern on that front about the pressures of moving out. If you want to, its a great experience and can be a great way to learn to fend for yourself. If you want to stay at home, you still can have all of those comforts and not miss out on anything social! It’s also a good way to save money, and reduce some student/maintenance loans, if that’s something you’re able to do.
3. Having a part-time job is a bad idea
Students seem to think that having a part time job whilst juggling studying at university is too much work, but it is totally doable, and whats more it gives you an opportunity to work on your organisation skills as well as bulk up your CV. Some Universities don’t allow for students to work during term time, but you can still work during the holidays.
If you can’t find jobs or find it too time consuming to find a general part time job, working for your university might be an option. I did everything, working for Abercrombie throughout my undergraduate, and then later also working for the university. I also did tutoring and teaching as a private tutor as well as part of a tutoring organisation.
Right now, I teach undergraduates and do a tonne of marking whilst working towards my PhD. So if you can make it happen, anythings possible!
4. You have to drink A LOT (of alcohol)
It’s definitely true that a lot of binge drinking seems to happen at University, particularly in the early years. This seems especially the culture in the UK, although it seems to resonate truth globally.
But one thing is for sure – if you want to drink, drink. If you don’t want to drink, don’t! Simple as that. Anyone who tries to convince you of doing anything you don’t want to isn’t worth your time or friendship. There are thousands and thousands of people at university, you can find many many better people!
Not drinking doesn’t mean you’re going to be missing out on anything major either. If you don’t want to stand out or get asked questions about not drinking, get a water, orange juice or coke. No one will be able to tell if its alcoholic or not! But I don’t think theres anything to worry about – it’s made out to be a lot more of a big deal in films and tv shows than it is in reality.
5. Going out clubbing is essential
Just like with drinking, going out clubbing isn’t something you necessarily need to do if you don’t want to. There may seem like theres a lot of clubbing in the first year or two, people get bored of it pretty quickly, especially once you reach third year. In my experience, you’re not going to have a fantastic and exciting evening full of interesting people. More likely you’re going to see some drunk 18 year olds in a dingy club with sticky floors.
Although I will say one thing – if you’re not totally against the idea and you’ve never been out before, it might be worth a try! I’m not saying this because I think people need to experience it, but just that its always worth trying new things at least once. Even if it’s just to figure out that you hate it!
6. You'll have an awful diet 🥡🥫
This is often said about uni life – that you will live off of ready meals, pot noodles and pasta. But this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case! A lot of students seem to indulge this stereotype, but it’s actually an excellent time to learn how to cook for yourself if you don’t already know how to. For sure, its easy to get a microwave meal or buy food out everyday, but not only is this not healthy, but its also very cost inefficient and you’ll be spending a lot more than you have to!
Cooking isn’t hard, no one expects you to turn into a chef overnight or be making Michelin star quality meals, but learning to make yourself a spag bol or chicken curry or whatever you like, isn’t that difficult! You’ll pick it up quick, and not only that, you’ll feel better and healthier for it too.
It’s a much better way to keep on track of your money too – making large batch meals and having extra for lunches or for freezing can really help you out when you don’t have the time or energy to cook!
7. Fresher's week will be the best and wildest week of your life 💃🕺
It’s certainly an exciting week (or two in some places!) but don’t be pressured to feel like you need to enjoy everything you encounter. More than anything, it’s a time to settle in to university, maybe a new city or even country.
Don’t worry if freshers isn’t the most amazing, dazzling week or your life. It most likely won’t be – but its just the start of your university journey. Make the most of it, but don’t feel like you need to do EVERYTHING.
8. You'll make all your friends during Fresher's week
You will certainly meet a tonne of new people during freshers, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to be friends for life! Sometimes, the pressure and anxiety to make friends as soon as you enter uni can mean you become friends with people you otherwise wouldn’t have ever spoken to – this can be a good or bad thing!
Theres definitely nothing to worry about, your university life is still just starting and you will have plenty of time and opportunities to meet new people and make new friendships. For me, the people I bonded with during freshers ended up being the people I lived with for the next three years of uni! But for a the majority of people I know, this wasn’t the case.
So don’t pressure yourself to do anything during freshers, or to think you have to build all your friends now. Just take freshers week as it comes, and just enjoy yourself!
9. You have to join a society
Usually there are a tonne of awesome clubs and societies for you to be able join, but there isn’t any obligation for you to join a society. Again, don’t feel like you need to do something you don’t want to.
But if there are any that take your fancy, don’t be shy to try them out! There is a club for almost every single thing you can thing of, and it’s a great way to meet new people. Once you join a society, you could even run for a committee position in the upcoming years. You don’t NEED to join a club, but I think its fun to try out a few. Don’t be scared to join a bunch and leave if it doesn’t suit you!
10. You won't get a job after Graduation🎓
This is definitely a major worry about going to University – will you get a job afterwards? Will it be worth it to pay the fees or get student loans if you’re not going to get a job or a well-paying job? It’s definitely a common fear and I do feel a bit weird writing this at the point I’m at right now. Although I graduated from my undergraduate degree a few years back, I’m still not sure what I want to do after I finish my PhD!
Having said that – the graduate employment rate is NOT anywhere near as bad as some people worry. If you’re worried, you can check out average graduate jobs and pays for your degree and institution with a quick search. This doesn’t mean you will fall into a job now. It definitely is something you need to work for. Things like societies, having roles of responsibility, internships, knowing programming or spoken languages are all things which can boost your chances of getting the best job for you.
Be sure to look around and attend your university careers fair and talk to people. Knowing the right people can sometimes be the difference between having a job you like and doing a job you LOVE.
Well thats 10 University myths busted! Did I miss any?
What other University myths and misconceptions have you heard or know about that you want any insight on? Please let me know down below in the comments and I’ll try my best to solve them! Also any questions you have – ask away!
If you are going to University this term, I wish you the best of luck. Your experience at University can truly be something special, but don’t forget it’s also something you control yourself. Make the most of this opportunity, but also remember that you are NOT expected to have it all figure out AT ALL! Go easy on yourself, and remember to keep in mind whats truly important.
See you in the next one,