University Myth Busting 2 – Debunking Preconceptions
Coming to university is an extremely exciting time for any new undergraduate, but also provides a lot of nerves. You have heard all of the stories, both positive and negative, and quite rightly are both elated and concerned at what you hear. You attempt to do some research, but online articles often only paint the good sides and the truly horrendous horror stories. So – from the myths you’ve heard, how many of them hold any merit? About a year ago, I did a part 1 to this which I’ll leave here if you want to see even more myths being busted! (https://our.warwick.ac.uk/university-myth-busting-are-the-rumours-true-2/). Shameless self-plugging aside, let’s discuss some of the biggest rumours about university life.
Myth – Referencing takes hours, often longer than the essay itself.
This one mainly applies to essay-based subjects such as Law, History and English, but can affect those in STEM subjects too (I had to help my friend doing physics to write an essay recently). I believe even academics will agree, referencing is a very tedious process of writing essays. Having used the entirety of your brains capacity to carve together your masterpiece of an essay, only to have to go back and quote every source or document you used in an alphabetically sorted bibliography with footnotes does take a long time. However, if you make a bibliography whilst planning and researching your essay, it reduces the amount of time it takes to reference massively. Now, I often put on some music and do it within about 20 minutes, which is actually a nice way to relax after smashing out 4,500 words in a coffee-fuelled mare.
Verdict – Partially true: Can be avoided with preparation but does take a long time if you don’t prepare properly.
Myth – You can commit plagiarism by not quoting yourself in an essay
This is one I nearly fell victim of myself and have had friends who have seriously been hurt by this. If you use previously submitted work in another set of work, you will be penalised for plagiarism. This is because the essay goes through a computer programme which checks against all previously submitted work, even your own. For example, if you write an essay on how the Nazi’s came to power, then in a later essay write reasons why the Weimar Republic fell and copy your paragraph on Hitler’s role using the Weimar political system, this would be plagiarism.
Verdict – True: But don’t stress, your tutors will happily give you advice on how to avoid this and how to submit work properly, just don’t be lazy and use your old work for new essays!
Myth – You are completely on your own and your academic tutors won’t support you if you’re struggling.
This one could not be more untrue. In First year, I had a lot of problems with feeling like I couldn’t do the work. I spoke to my tutors about it, and they were amazing. Constantly supporting me, speaking to me after seminars to check I was on the right page and answered any questions I have.
Verdict – Busted: Academic tutors want you to do well and succeed, so never be afraid to ask them for help when you are struggling.
Myth – Everyone is rich and upper class
I think this one heavily applies to Warwick and other Russel Group universities if you are from a more working-class background (like myself). The diversity of people at Warwick is I think one of its strongest features. In First year, my flat had many people who hadn’t gone to grammar or private schools, those who had rich parents and those in similar positions to me. Yes, I did have a friend who went to Eton, but that wasn’t a barrier between us and rather something we could learn about from each other due to our different upbringings.
Verdict – Busted: there will be people who are, but they are by no means the majority.
Myth – Everyone is INSANELY smart and will make you feel stupid
This is one I was very worried of personally. Due to the academic prestige of Warwick, it is reasonable to assume that everyone around is very smart and academically yes, most of them are. But it is important to note, you are too! If you got an offer, you deserve to walk among these people. Plus, the entire time I’ve been here, not one student has made me feel stupid or insignificant because I went to a state school and didn’t have straight As and A*s my entire life.
Verdict – Partially true: Everyone is very bright, but they won’t make you feel stupid and you shouldn’t be intimidated.
Myth – If you get less than a 2.1 on any assessed work, you are doomed to fail.
A big worry for many, the idea of getting less than a 2.1 freaks a lot of first years out. What you need to remember is, university is a learning process. My first 3 essays were 55%, and the final one was 58% from my first term. I ended First year with an average of 64%, showing how it is a process of learning and you shouldn’t stress if your first few assessments come out lower than you hoped.
Verdict – Busted: You shouldn’t stress about your grade early on, as you will improve.
Your personal tutor is a waste of time and will barely remember your name.
The personal tutor system is designed to give you a reference point. Don’t know when your essays are due? Confused how the library works? Stressing about your workload? Email your personal tutor, and they are always more than happy to help or point you in the direction of someone who can. I’ve had two personal tutors in my time at Warwick, and both have been fantastic.
Verdict – Busted: They will even check up on you if you don’t speak to them for a while, showing how much they care.
Myth – University is one never-ending party and if you aren’t into partying you will be miserable.
Like my myth about drinking culture in my last myth busting blog, university is not a constant place of drinking and partying. If this is your scene, and the lights of Smack and Neon or even Pop are what you are drawn to, go for it! But if you are the sort of person who likes to just sit and chill watching films, go to the pub and have a few pints or just relax after a long week, there is a place to do it at Warwick.
Verdict – Busted. Partying is available, not something you have to do.
There we have. More myths that have either been busted or seen to have some truth in them which could maybe be hidden as good advice for the future. Regardless of these, although coming to university is a nerve-wracking experience, don’t let the online horror stories worry you. You will have a great time, and if you need support, it will be available to you.