What You Think You May Know About University Is a Lie


Quote the Raven: Samantha


In high school, when my teachers were trying to prepare my classmates and I for post-secondary education, I found that there were always common explanations on what university would look like, how professors would treat students and what aspects of university would be very different from high school.

Certain things my teachers would tell us were true, however, there were quite a number of things I found, once entering university, to be utterly false or not completely true. I have a list of eight sayings about university that high school teachers would discuss that are not true. Of course, I know that not all universities are the same, nor are all professors and the treatment of programs the same – this list is all purely based on my experience and things that I have heard from high school teachers.

So, here is our list:

  1. “If you’re late to class in university, your professors lock the doors and you won’t be let in.”

This is one that I’ve heard often and have found to be completely untrue. This is one saying I was always so worried about when entering university. However, upon classes actually starting I realized that professors really don’t care if you’re late or not – okay, correction, they do care, but they don’t punish you for it the way high school teachers make you think. Majority of the professors don’t lock their doors and the ones that do, it is all based on their personal preference.

  1. “University professors are not going to provide you with the notes and if they do they won’t go back to let you finish copying if you miss something.”

The amount of times I was told professors in university wouldn’t provide PowerPoints with notes on the course lectures is massive. My professors use PowerPoint all the time! And sometimes they even ask if everyone is finished and if requested will almost always go back to allow students to finish writing notes – in fact, I’ve had professors who actively observe the class to make sure everyone is finished writing all the notes before they move on with the lecture. In some cases, lecture notes are even posted online for students before or after class, but this depends on the professor.

  1. “Classes are large in university, with 300 or 500+ students.”

Okay, this one is kind of true and kind of not true. There are classes that have a lot of students, an example would definitely be Introduction to Psychology. However, it typically depends on your program and the classes you choose to pursue. Certain majors may not have a lot of students to begin with. In my experience, being an English major, our classes are quite small. It heavily resembles the common high school classroom size of around 25 to 30 students.

  1. “Professors don’t take attendance.”

Honestly, this one really depends on the professor, as well as the class size. I’ve had classes where attendance was not taken and I’ve had classes where attendance was taken. If I had to say which one was the most common, in my experience, I’ve definitely faced more teachers who like taking attendance rather than not taking attendance. For obvious reasons, professors who teach the bigger classes won’t take attendance – but if you find yourself in a smaller classroom, the chances are your professor may require you to sign an attendance sheet. Some professors choose to do this because they use your classroom attendance as a percentage towards your final grade.

  1. “University professors won’t accommodate you.”

This one isn’t true. As long as you let your professors know enough time in advance, they typically have no problem accommodating your needs. They will extend the assignment deadline for you if you really need it and they will let you take tests earlier or later if needed.

  1. “University professors don’t care about their students. You’re only a number to them.”

In actuality, there are so many professors who do care about their students. There are professors who are always encouraging students to visit them on their office hours. I’ve had a professor for a full-year course who actually required that we meet with her both semesters as part of our attendance mark. In addition, so many of my professors have actually taken the effort to learn everyone’s names in the class. Some professors really try to meet you on a personal level instead of solely on an academic level – we aren’t just a number to them.

  1. “University professors are always strict and professional.”

There are professors that can be like this, however, in my experience I’ve actually encountered more professors that are quite relaxed and have a good sense of humour. I’ve had professors that make a lot of jokes, ones that have asked me to call them by their first names, professors that actively swear in class – and the list goes on.

  1. “Essays are five paragraphs long.” Or “You’re going to have to write a lot more pages for your research papers in university.”

Since I am an English major, these are the ones that really got me when I first entered university. My high school teachers would be so strict about essays being five paragraphs long – the introduction, the three body paragraphs and the conclusion. After entering university and being tasked with writing my first few essays, I was astonished to hear some of my professors say they hate the common high school structure of the essay and that they wanted us to write our essays in a format that is anything but that. In fact, since my major forces me to write so many papers, I’ve come to learn that you fit the essay structure to the content you want to write – moral of the story, I’ve never had to write a single essay in university that was five paragraphs long. It feels like the four years I spent writing essays in high school were all a lie.

In regards to research papers, my high school teachers for certain classes would require us to write so many pages back-to-back filled with information as “practice” since they told us we would have to write so much more in university. I can confidently say, most professors will make the page limit at a maximum of 10 pages – solely because they don’t want to spend all of their time grading so many extremely long papers. The longest paper I’ve ever written in high school was 40 pages and the longest paper I’ve ever written in university was 10 pages – the difference is huge.

And there you have it!

These are eight of the sayings I was told in high school about university that turned out to be utter lies or true, but not entirely. I know that I may have missed some, but nevertheless I hope that you were able to agree with some of these and that it added some enjoyment to your day – especially during these times with the COVID-19 situation. Remember to be safe!

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