MYTH: I DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT MY GRADES OR WHAT CLASSES I TAKE UNTIL MY SOPHOMORE YEAR.
“I heard that you did not have to worry about your grades until sophomore year and I was like, “oh, great!” says Paul, 15. Experts say every year is important to a student’s high school career and ultimately their college future. Poor freshman grades will affect an overall grade point average.
“But more than that,” says Betty Malloy, an academic dean, “you have wasted all that time when you could be learning.” Diane Burns, a university assistant vice president agrees. “What you take at every step of the way is important but in reality, a college or university would look more favorably on a student who had poorer grades in the freshman or sophomore year and better grades in the senior year because that shows that a student is improving or maturing as a student,” she says, “[rather] than a student who started off really well in the freshman and sophomore year and then began to decline in the junior and senior year.”
MYTH: I CAN’T START THINKING ABOUT FINANCIAL AID UNTIL I KNOW WHERE I’M GOING TO COLLEGE.
“Yeah, I think you should take care of that after you know which college you’re going to,” says Palmer, 15. “Different colleges cost different amounts of money so you don’t know how much you’re gonna need.”
The truth is students need to file a federal aid form before most colleges send out acceptance letters. Experts recommend researching financial aid in your child’s junior year, if not before. “And parents need to be looking at their finances – deciding what they’re going to be able to do, looking at the costs of the colleges that their children are considering and, you know, looking at all their options,” says Rob Jenkins, a college professor.
MYTH: I CAN TAKE WHATEVER CLASSES I WANT WHEN I GET TO COLLEGE.
“Almost all colleges have what they call the core curriculum where everyone has to take, you know, a couple of English composition classes, a couple of history classes, a couple of sciences,” Jenkins explains.
“There are requirements for graduation,” adds Betty Malloy, academic dean. “And some students who self-advise will end up being at a college a lot longer than a student needs to be … because they took courses that don’t count toward graduation.”
Finally, when it comes to college, the experts advise students not to rely on rumors. “Ask the questions of the experts,” says Burns. “Go to your counselors, go to your college officials in the admissions office and get the answers that you need – the truth. Get the facts.”
Discussion and Self-Reflection Questions
- Did any of the college myths described surprise you? Please describe.
- If you are an upper classman, how would you describe your high school freshman year experience? What advice would you offer to incoming freshmen?
- College financial aid considerations are important – and can be complicated. Have you and your family considered the options? What resources are available in your school and your community to provide assistance and direction? Talk with your guidance counselor on who you might ask for help.
- Create a list of your strengths and weaknesses. What would you like to study in college? What academic requirements might be necessary during your high school years? What might your class schedule look like your first year of college?
College Myths: Part II
About the Program
From high school and college courses to financial aid, there are plenty of misconceptions about what it takes to get into college. Watch this video to hear from students – and experts – about what teens and their parents should know about common misconceptions.