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Students looking to attend college may have many preconceived notions about higher education, including what schools consider when accepting students, or how long it takes to earn a degree. We’ve compiled the top 10 myths we hear from college-bound students and want to provide some clarity around what students can really expect.

    1. College is only for unusually smart people.

      You do not need to be gifted or possess superior or unusual mental abilities to attend college. Most college graduates have an ordinary memory, attention span, mathematical understanding, comprehension of concepts, and other abilities.

    2. Great colleges are well-known.

      There are many great colleges and universities in the world that are less popular than ivy league schools that can offer you a valuable education to help you secure a successful career. Visit Peterson’s college and graduate school search to access thousands of school profiles to find the best fit for you. 

    3. College is only for those seeking a 4-year degree.

      There are many types of colleges and degrees—college is just another way of saying education or training after high school. Certificate and training programs at community colleges and trade schools can take less than a year. Associate degree programs usually take two years. The common element: learning and training continues after high school.
      RELATED: 10 Scholarships for Trade or Vocational School Students

    4. You have to be young to go to college.

      While traditionally colleges were filled with recent high school graduates, there has been a demographic shift in attendance over the last decade. If you are 25 years or older, you will have plenty of company. State universities and community colleges are seeing a surge in enrollment for students aged 25 and older. The average age of a part-time student is 29. Check out our Adult Learner Online Community for resources designed specifically for adults going back to school. 

    5. College isn’t affordable.

      When it comes to paying for college, students have an array of options to help fund their education. From attending a community college, where fees are relatively low, to obtaining grants and scholarships, financial aid, part-time jobs, or a 529 plan, there are several ways to finance college tuition. Those in the military can use in-service Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) education benefits or military tuition assistance.

    6. It takes a long time to complete a college program.

      Attending college part-time can extend the time to earn a degree, however, many schools have accelerated programs that are designed to earn a degree in a more efficient timeline. Students can also earn college credit by taking exams such as the CLEP or DSST. Those who are or have been in the military can be awarded college credit for their job experience and military training. Many community colleges also offer certificate programs in trade and vocational areas, which can be completed in less than the equivalent of two years.

    7. You have to pass entrance examinations to go to college.

      Although high scores on standardized examinations are required for admission to some state universities and selective private colleges, this is not the case for community colleges and many other schools since COVID. Many colleges and universities on military installations do not require entrance exams. If you complete your first two years of college working toward a bachelor’s degree at a community college, your work can transfer to a four-year college or university without entrance exams.

    8. You need to decide on a major before going to college. 

      Many students aren’t sure what major they want to choose before going to college. If you don’t know what area you want to pursue, you can declare a general major, such as liberal arts. While working toward a bachelor’s degree, focus your first two years on general education courses. In most cases, it’s not necessary to take more than two or three courses in your major in the first two years. You can change your major readily after you complete your first two years where you will likely have a better idea of the field in which you want to major.  

    9. College graduates don’t earn that much more money.

      If you are weighing the cost of college tuition against the salary of those who earned a college degree to see if it’s worth it, listen to this: The average college graduate earns on average twice as much as a high school graduate. College graduates have access to many more job opportunities than those without a college degree.

    10. Your college entrance exam score is everything and will ultimately determine your chances of getting into college.

      While ACT and SAT scores are one indicator of college readiness, many schools will weigh other factors such as your curriculum, grades, and writing ability as stronger indicators of college success. If you are applying to a college or university that requires you to take either the ACT or SAT exam, consider these recommendations: take either test your junior year of high school. Review your score, identify the areas in which additional preparation could help, and use test prep to boost your score. Take the test again during the fall semester of your senior year. Make a plan and prepare. Be proud of your work and recognize that colleges who value you will do so because they know you are more than just a test score.

RELATED: Considerations for Choosing the Right College for You

When considering attending college for the first time or going back to college as an adult, separating fact from fiction about college can help you when making your decision to pursue higher education. From test prep to finding the right college to searching for scholarships, and providing guidance and inspiration, Peterson’s is here to assist you every step of the way!