College Stereotypes

               We’ve all heard some college stereotypes. We’ve been told the tales, seen the movies, and heard our teachers telling us all about how “in college you’ll have to do so much more.” Before even getting to college, we have expectations of what it’s going to be like and what sort of opportunities, people, and challenges are going to meet us at the gate.

               But how much of that is actually true? After all, just because we saw it in a movie or heard it from a friend (who heard it from their friend) doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true. Before we base our assumptions off what we’ve heard, let’s take a second to identify some of the classic college stereotypes that may be setting us up for failure, disappointment, or unnecessary fear.

Disproving College Stereotypes

The Party Scene

               One of the most common college stereotypes is that it’s one big party after another. College kids are often portrayed as partyers, going from one rager to the next. Now, if you’re here, you’re most likely considering a Christian college and I would imagine the expectations for partying are much lower. Still, the idea of a more diverse and wilder social scene still exists (I went to a Christian college, I can’t tell you how many of my friends sought out parties).

               So, let’s be clear about this stereotype: there is truth to it, but not nearly to the extent that it’s made out to be. Usually, what happens is freshmen/sophomores put on and attend lots of parties, then as they get further along in college and their studies become heavier, they get tired. I mean, have you met college students? We spend every available moment we have trying to take a nap. With what energy are we expected to party all night?

Even in the beginning, it isn’t parties every night, like Hollywood or your friend’s friend talks about. Maybe every other weekend there might be a party, depending on the school and location you’re in, but most likely, especially if you’re attending a Christian college, it will be way less often than that.

               However, I would strongly discourage taking part in this scene regardless. The college party scene is made out to be fun, energetic, and wild. But honestly, they’re not worth the time. They are awkward, time wasters, and no matter how Christian the college you may be going to is, chances are someone will bring something they shouldn’t to a party, and it’ll become a moral dilemma.

You’ll Find Your “SQUAD” Freshman Year

               This is one of those stereotypes that you can pull from the plot line of almost any college movie. The main character arrives at college freshman year, makes a couple friends through orientation or a situation where they are put together, they form a rag tag squad of outsiders, and go through their college years together, conquering the challenges of relationships, classes, and social status.

college stereotypes, college professors, freshman year

               Yeah, it’s a real heartwarming concept… not so much an iron-clad reality. Here’s the thing about college, and specifically freshman year: Everyone is figuring themselves out and changing. So, the person you meet at the beginning of freshman year may not be that same person in five months. You may find that you enjoy spending time with them less and less as the days go by. And you’re changing too. You may have clicked at the beginning of school, with all the newness of everything or shared interests at the time. But by sophomore year you never speak to them anymore.

               That’s honestly normal. Sometimes, the friends we make freshman year are only for freshman year. Your friend groups will change, people will change, you’ll start to have more classes with the same people because of your major, your schedules will shift, and it’s okay. You may make some friends freshmen year that you keep, but you may also meet people in your junior year that really become lifelong friends.

Don’t expect that your freshman friends are going to be forever and get disappointed or bitter if you start drifting apart. Just enjoy the people that enter your life for the time that they’re there (even if it’s just five months).

You’ll Meet Your Soulmate in College

               This is one of those college stereotypes that most of us don’t like to admit that we hoped for. But again, watch any movie about college, and there’s bound to be some kind of romantic subplot that reveals that the protagonist and the love interest were meant to be, and they just needed to see each other to realize it. If only it worked like that. The reality is much less appealing.

               Like with freshmen friends, we have to remember that in college, everyone is figuring themselves out. None of us know what we’re doing. So, the people that we may start dating may not have themselves figured out and may start changing. College relationships often don’t last, and the first person you date in college is ALMOST NEVER the person you end up with.

college stereotypes, college professors, freshman year

               Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against dating in college, but I would caution you to be realistic about it. If you don’t find “your person” in college, don’t sweat it. It’s really not as common as the stereotype makes it out to be. And hear me out: over 7 billion people in the world. Only several thousand go to your college. That’s not even a fraction you’d be able to see on a chart. You’re probably doing yourself a favor if you wait to see what else is out there.

Ring By Spring

               This one is especially focused on Christian colleges. Follow me through the steps: Christian dude and chick meet in August, begin dating in September, realize that they are madly in love (or impatient) by the end of September, and by March he pops the question. Because, well, when you know you know, right? And this is so common on every Christian college campus.

               Except it’s not—at least, it’s not so common. Listen, there is truth to this, but only in that there will always be that one couple that starts dating in August and is engaged by March. Now, I’m not saying that they’re always wrong, but marrying the first person you date in the same year you meet them? Not the wisest decision. And let’s remember, it’s college: we’re all still figuring things out and changing. None of us really know ourselves yet.

I can’t stress this enough–simply don’t.

               So, please do not come to college expecting that you are going to be engaged by March. Don’t start a relationship and expect to be engaged in 8 months. And on the flip side, you really don’t need to be afraid of this either—seriously, it doesn’t happen often enough that it should be a serious concern. You have complete control over this—it’s not something that just happens to you and you’re stuck in the current.

               I know that emotions run high in college, but that strong impulse to marry the person you just started dating is one that you should pray about and seriously analyze, because in a few months, you may both be different people. And if you’re being proposed to after 8 months of dating (and your immediate response isn’t to run away) then seriously consider postponing a firm decision until after summer, when you’ve spent time apart and out of school.

               Or—and I can’t stress this enough—simply don’t.

People Behave Like Their Majors

               We all know the stereotypes. The theater major that wears extravagant clothing, is loud, and overly dramatic about everything; the English major with thin, gold-framed glasses, sweaters, their face in a book, and coffee in-hand 24/7; the biology major with thick, black-rimmed glasses that they constantly push up their nose when saying something intelligible and a plaid button-up tucked into khakis.

               No. Just, no. People behave like people. There is diversity and a chaotic combination of all sorts of styles, opinions, and speaking volumes from the people in each major. It’s dumb to think that every math major has a calculator clipped to their belt and suspenders on, just for good measure. A major does not define someone’s personality. It’s a shared interest, but that doesn’t mean that everyone who likes Philosophy enough to endure 4 years of it will like all the other same things too.

College Professors are All the Same

The college professor: the older gentlemen wearing a tweed jacket, glasses, carrying a copy of their published textbook, and is taking precious time out of writing their next one to teach you…. Not really. College professors are people, diverse and varied—just like students.

Like other college stereotypes, Hollywood plays a part in perpetuating this view of professors. There are some exceptions of course, but often the college professor is brisk, busy, dressed spiffy, and a little arrogant on the big screen. It doesn’t help that high school teachers make a habit of telling students that “your college professors won’t help you like we do.”

college stereotypes, college professors, freshman year

This stereotype is wonderfully mistaken. Most college professors enjoy their jobs and are happy to engage with and help students. Some will be difficult; some will be unpleasant. Some will have written the textbook they use for their class. But professors, like students, come in all shapes and sizes, so don’t expect them to fit nicely into a predictable, categorized box.

(ratemyprofessors.com may help you identify unpleasant professors before you’re stuck in their class)

The Broke College Student

               Sadly, I’m not here to disprove this one. Sorry folks, it’s mostly true. This reality-check is for you. There are things you can do to help, though—part time job, work study, begging in the streets, etc… But for the most part, your schedule is too busy to work enough hours to make significant money, and you are probably paying for college (or at least going into debt) and groceries. So… Good luck! (Don’t worry, you’ll survive, and the struggle will make you stronger—probably)

Spring Break Trips

               You know when everyone talks about their extravagant Spring Break trips? Like in the movies when that group of friends goes to some clear-water, tropical island, dream destination? Yeah, that’s not real—or at least, it’s very uncommon. You know why? You need money for that—which most college students don’t really have (unless they’ve been saving or are using their parents’ money).

               So, unless your family is taking you, or someone else is paying—have fun at Grandma’s!

College Students are Procrastinators

               If college students are stressed and busy, it’s because they procrastinated, right?

We like to think of it as “prioritization.” So often college students are labeled as procrastinators; dum-dums who waited until the last possible second to write their term paper. While this may be true for a lot of students, a lot are also quite proactive about assignments. I’ve known and been a student on both sides of the spectrum.

college stereotypes, college professors, freshman year

The simple truth about college is that there are a lot of assignments for several classes at once, and sometimes it’s not a matter of not doing your work in time. Sometimes it’s a matter of prioritizing which assignments carry more weight or matter more and leaving the other ones until after. Occasionally that means you’re doing an assignment the night before; it’s life. (Although sometimes you are just a procrastinator, and everything is getting done last minute. In that case, you are the problem and the stereotype. Congrats on being predictable.)

The Best Years of Your Life

               This is not an inherently bad college stereotype, but I will say that it’s not always true. They say college is what you make of it, so absolutely make it the best that you can. But listen, life after college is also great. Don’t discount the opportunity that the rest of your life has to top your college experiences. Don’t get all bummed out when college is over because it’s “all downhill from here.” Absolutely make the most of college. But don’t think that there isn’t more to come when it’s over.

Conclusion

               There are a lot of college stereotypes out there. Some of them have truth to them, some of them are just ridiculous, Hollywood-generated plot lines to create entertainment. My advice? Take what you hear with a grain of salt. You’ll get to your campus, and you’ll start to see how things really work, how people really are, and you’ll figure things out as you go. Be wise, trust God, and don’t assume that everything is going to be like what you’ve heard. You’ll do great—it’s going to be great!

Looking for information on Christian colleges? Want to be entered into one of our scholarship drawings? Visit us at The Christian Connector.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • What to Expect the First Week of College

    What to Expect the First Week of College

    “… the moment we step into a college classroom, we’re really ‘adulting’ and have achieved the next level.” The First Week of College It’s just around the corner: the first week of college. For those of you who are incoming freshmen, this is a time of both excitement and, if we’re honest, stress and nervousness.…


  • Studying Abroad: What You Need to Know

    Studying Abroad: What You Need to Know

    “If you have the opportunity to do a study abroad trip, take it.” Studying Abroad                Studying abroad is a unique opportunity that students have to go to a different location or country, experience a new culture, interact with and immerse themselves with new perspectives on life and how to live it, all while continuing…


  • The Best Summer Jobs for College Students

    The Best Summer Jobs for College Students

    Summer is when a magical eraser is taken to our usually full to-do list, and we find ourselves with the rare pleasure of having time to kill. Summer Jobs When the school year is finally over and the onslaught of homework, essays, exams, and undying stress is finally done, the last thing we want to…