General - Camie Leard

By: Camie Leard  09-12-2011

Misconception 8: You Need to Know What
You Want in Order to Go to College
You do have to declare a major, don’t you? You have to say that you are majoring in psychology, history, chemistry, biology, or something else, don’t you? Well, this is not as important as the beginning student thinks. In the first place, if you don’t know what area you really want to pursue, you can often declare something general such as Liberal Arts. This is perfectly acceptable, and you can then take almost anything you want to take. In the second place, if you are aiming toward an eventual bachelor’s degree, the first two years of college are taken up primarily by general education requirements. These are courses in the social sciences, the life sciences, the physical sciences, English composition, mathematics, and sometimes a foreign language. In most cases you will not have to take more than two or three courses in your major in your first two years of college. And you can change your major readily after you complete your first two years of work.
The truth is that many students use the first two years of college as a way of discovering what they want to major in. The large array of general education courses may be looked on something like a smorgasbord. You sample courses, and find out what is to your taste. You consequently receive the information that makes it possible for you to follow a line of study leading to a vocation or profession that is compatible with your talents, interests, and personality.Misconception 9: Professors Tend to Be
Hostile to the Older, Nontraditional
This misconception has been perpetuated by several movies that have portrayed college professors as aloof, cold, and distant. In addition, the authoritarian professor makes a laughing stock, a kind of psychological scapegoat, out of the underprepared adult student. The attitude conveyed seems to be, “You really don’t belong here. You’re wasting my time.”
This portrayal is completely disto fled. The great majority of college professors look upon their work as not merely a job, but as a high calling. Teachers live to teach. They want to help you succeed. They really do. If you, the student, demonstrate a genuine will to learn, the professor will usually find this both exciting and rewarding. Rent a videotape of the movie Educating Rita with Michael Caine and Julle Walters. Rita is a married woman with an enormous vitality and a will to learn. The professor teaches English literature and is able to provide her with understanding as well as the kind of ideas and information she needs. I am not exaggerating when I say that there are many more professors like Michael Caine’s character in the movie than cold, hostile ones. In brief, the professor is on your side. He or she wants to see you succeed.
Misconception 10: College Graduates
Don’t Really Earn That Much More
Money Than Non-college Graduates
It is true that many individuals who are not college graduates make more money than many individuals who are. We all know of cases in which a person goes into a business such as a restaurant, a mail-order enterprise, a plumbing company, a dry-cleaning store, or general contracting, and earns two or three times as much money as the average individual. I am quick to agree that a high level of education is not the only road to financial success in the United States.
It is also true, however, that the average college graduate earns about twice as much money per year than the average high school graduate. Taking 1990 as a baseline, a U.S. Census Bureau study reported that the average high school graduate earned a little over $12,000 per year. The average college graduate earned a little over $24,000 per year, a difference of $12,000. Even if you start your career late, say around age 35, you still have 30 working years ahead of you. Thirty multiplied by $12,000 equals $360,000. That’s quite a bit of money. (Allowing for inflation over a 30-year period, the actual dollars could be $500,000 or more.)
Misconception 11: You Will Be Neglecting
Your Children If You Go to College
If you are the kind of person who will neglect your children, you will probably neglect them whether you go to college or not. If you are a responsible parent, you will go to college and arrange for day care or other caregiving when you have to attend classes. When you are with your children you will give them the time, love, and attention they need. I have known hundreds of parents who have gone to college, and on the whole they are better parents as a result of their college experience. They have more to give their children because their own mental and emotional needs are nurtured. And they provide inspiring role models for their children. To a large extent children learn by a process called observational learning, in which they tend to copy the behavior of someone they admire. You won’t be slighting them by seeking higher education. It is more likely that you will be opening a pathway.

The information in this article was current at 06 Dec 2011

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