Being a college student is an exciting and unique stage of life. You’re no longer a child, and are free to do what you choose with your time. Some students find the transition to adulthood easier than others, but almost every college student will face some form of stereotyping. Either from fellow students, professors, or other adults, coming into adulthood as a student is different, and often a challenge. Being in control of your own image is important. Here are the six stereotypes you’ll face in college and how to overcome them gracefully.
1. You’re Lazy
Many people have a perception that college students are lazy and procrastinate all their work. But the evidence shows most college students accomplish much more than they get credit for. The average college student takes a full course load, participates in extracurriculars, and many hold part-time jobs. If you find yourself being stereotyped as lazy, kindly remind them of what other work you have on your plate.
2. Your Eating Habits are Unhealthy
Although ramen noodles are still a dorm room staple, may college dining halls have expanded the variety of food offered. You can get roasted veggies or a salad as part of your meal with almost any college dining plan. The key to combating this stereotype is to hold yourself accountable and make healthy food choices on your own. If you don’t eat through a school meal plan, be sure to buy fresh foods, use bulk recipes that will last the week, and eat out sparingly to save cash and your health.
3. You Drink Too Much
It’s no secret that college students like to party. This is one stage of life when letting loose and experimenting are expected, and often encouraged. But not all college students find themselves at a keg party every week. The Harvard School of Public Health determined 51% of 4-year college students actually have one drink or less per week. This means most students are not binge drinking on a regular basis. If you’ve posted many a picture of your wild nights out on social media, you may find it difficult to combat this stereotype. Your best bet to avoid this stereotype is to keep your drinking activities offline and in moderation.
4. You’re Irresponsible
Everyone makes mistakes, and younger people tend to make more mistakes than those who have lived and learned. If you want to be treated like a responsible adult, you need to prove your worthiness to your new authority figures. You need to earn the trust of your professors and peers. By being a good student and a good project partner, you’ll show others that you’re a responsible adult. Don’t worry if this stereotype takes a few semesters to overcome. Finding a degree you connect with, and immersing yourself in the material will prove to others and yourself, that you’re prepared and have what it takes to see your schooling to the end. You’re learning a whole new world of information, culture, and behavior.
5. You’re Broke
Between student loans and limited time to work, many college students are tight on cash. You can often use this to your advantage and get help from your parents for living expenses. But let’s say your friend wants to go on vacation and assumes you can’t go because you never have extra money. You might be a little bummed out. The best way to avoid this is to refrain from speaking about finances with your peers. It’s actually a good rule of thumb for your future, too, as money is usually a taboo topic among most adults.
6. Your Parents are Rich
On the flip side of your peers assuming you’re poor, friends who choose not to attend college often assume you can go to school because your parents are rich. Many people finance their own college education with grants, scholarships, student loans, and other forms of aid. Only 10% of students have half their tuition covered by family. There’s no real way to combat this stereotype aside from letting them know you’re in for a big student loan repayment plan later. But that’s not necessary, and frankly, it’s none of their business!
During your college years, you’ll learn a lot and grow tremendously. You’ll find out who you are along the way. Don’t let other people’s opinions prevent you from living your fullest life.
This article was contributed by guest author Eileen O’Shanassy.