Orientation guide: College may not be exactly what you’ve been told

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If your high school experience was anything like mine, everybody and their counselor told you countless myths about college life. By the time I got here, I had so many misconceptions about how class, work and life were going to be that I just wanted to hide under a rock. After almost two years here, I feel a lot better about how I plan my schedule, and my GPA is thanking me for these organizational skills. You can get a head start on that progress before you are almost a junior in college if you get rid of the lies your crazy AP geography teacher told you and learn these truths about college, like…

Your professors will care about you

One thing my high school teachers loved to threaten us with was the apparent apathy of all college professors. I think the idea was to make us more self-sufficient, but looking back, that was a very ineffective method. “You need to turn in all your homework on time, because your teacher isn’t going to babysit you. They don’t care if you get an A or an F!”

College certainly isn’t the best time of your life to slack off, but as far as getting a caring professor, the odds are in your favor — especially here at K-State. It is kind of absurd to think that your professors will not care about your education.

Honestly, professors do not have to care about what work you do, but since they’re here to teach you, they are going to make sure you learn. If you are consistently not turning in work or doing a poor job, expect a conference. I have yet to have a professor who really had no time for how I was doing, and many of them remain friendly and helpful even after the semester is over.

So do not worry about cruel, heartless professors. If you are having trouble, talk to them. Ask for extensions, extra help, whatever you need. Professors are people, and people can be reasonable.

Sure, you may have that one professor who is only teaching in order to do research at the university, or you might get a graduate student who is not quite sure of their teaching style yet, but every school has a few unpleasant faculty members. If you are looking for professors who are here for their students, K-State was the right choice to make. That means, though, that you have to be there for your professors, so remember…

Attendance does matter

I’m not going to lie to you. Skipping classes is sort of common. It’s kind of easy to do, and if you do it just once, you will be hooked. Something about college that people always say is that accountability rests on you, and that is true. The falseness comes in when people say that it’s OK if you do not go to class. High school is not the last time you will lose points for being absent. Not all college courses require attendance, but a surprising number do. The best ones are the classes that have pop quizzes and random bonus points just for being there.

Professors are crafty and plan attendance points for days when they expect the fewest people. If it is a gorgeous Friday afternoon or an early Monday morning, go to school. More often than not, your professors will expect you not to, and they might reward your dedication.

Also, it is important to attend class because it is class, and that should really be enough reason. If that doesn’t do it for you, at least dispel the notion that you do not have to go to class, even if attendance is not required. The more you miss, the harder it is for you to get a good grade. This reminds me of one of the most aggravating myths I have ever been told about college. Don’t ever let someone tell you that your GPA is irrelevant, because the truth is…

Your grades are just as relevant as your experience

I was a perfectionist in high school, and so were my friends. I was a valedictorian, and two of my best friends received the highest GPAs in the school. You can imagine our surprise when we came here and were told that your grades do not matter at all. What we were told was, “All your employers are going to look at is what you’ve done, not what grade you got.”

Excuse me?

Since I haven’t thrown myself out into the job market yet, I cannot tell you exactly how valid that claim is. I can share my personal philosophy with you, though: Would you like to visit the dentist that got all A’s during his or her schooling or the dentist that got all C’s? I would prefer to tell my customers, or clients, or boss that I was dedicated and studious enough to kick college’s butt, instead of being remotely average at anything.

That’s an intrinsic motivation, though. A more practical reason to keep your grades up is because the higher your grades are, the more people notice you.

People recommend you for certain positions and duties when they know you will do a good job, and that leads to career opportunities, especially when you are studying a major in which promotion heavily lies on who you know, like architecture, advertising or journalism. We have not addressed the main thing that you need to be clear on when it comes to college life: it is yours. No matter what choices you make, always keep in mind…

College can only be hell if you make it that way

There are people who will tell you that college will be the best years of your life, and others will say that it was nothing but cruel tests and tricks that got in the way of being in the real world. Coming into this beast with either of those mentalities can be dangerous. Remember that you control exactly how easy college is going to be, not only with class preparation, but also with your attitude.

Do not get caught up in the silly myths that pervade the high school hallways, and hold on to the things that will help you: getting involved is a good idea. There are best friends in these buildings waiting to meet you, and this time of your life will help you figure out who you really are.

If you want to do nothing, college will suck. If you want to do too much, college will hurt. If you be yourself, any multitude of positive things can and will happen to you. Just keep in mind what is true and what is false.

Oh, and the food is not as good as you’ve been told. Sorry.

Darrington Clark is a sophomore in journalism and mass communications. Please send comments to edge@kstatecollegian.com.

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