If you’re going to college at some point in the near future–whether that means this fall, next year, in the next couple of years, or, you know, sometime–chances are good that you already have some pretty solid preconceived notions about the whole thing. This is pretty normal. College is such a built-up thing in our society that this is more or less to be expected.
But, if you think about it, most of your ideas about college (or “university,” if you are “abroad”) stem from things like movies, TV shows, or what your cousin’s friend who’s a sophomore at the state college has to say about it–not necessarily facts. Again, this is fine and normal, since part if the mythos surrounding college comes from the knowledge that not everything you hear about it will be 100% true. Like, you know it’s not going to be all crazy spring break trips and wet t-shirt contests and wildly exciting a capella concerts. Still, it’s important to know what really happens in college. And, the best way to do this–as you may soon be learning in college–is to look at the facts. Specifically, facts from peer-reviews studies about college. Check them out here!
Girls Carry Greater Student Loan Debt Than GuysYou probably already know that student loans are no joke. In total, Americans owe over $1.4 trillion in student loan debt, which, divided between 44 million borrowers, comes out to about $37,172 per person on average. That's a lot of money! And, to add insult to injury, women carry the majority of student loan debt. According to a report from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), women hold two-thirds of the overall nationwide student debt. African American women also take on more student debt than any other group of women. At face value, this isn't really news--more women attend college than men, after all, so it makes sense that they would have more student loan debt--but what is concerning is that women also take about two years longer than men to pay off their debt, since AAUW also estimates that women make 20% less than men four years after graduating with a bachelor's degree. Image source: Animal House
The Average College Student Attends 62 Parties A YearApparently, the average college student attends 62 parties a year. That sounds like a lot, right? But, given that you'll only be on campus for about six or seven months out of the year, that averages out to about 8-10 parties a month. Which, sure, is kind of a lot, but it's not insane. Plus, that's just the average! It doesn't have to reflect your own experience. Image source: Accepted
Lots Of People Get Diseases They Haven't Gotten Since KindergartenIn 2016, campus officials at Florida State University noticed that more than a dozen students on campus had contracted something known as "hand, foot, and mouth disease," an illness that can cause fever, painful mouth sores, and a skin rash on the hands and feet. Officials were surprised to see it present, not because of its symptoms, but rather because the disease usually only affects children under five years old. But it's not actually as surprising to see this sickness on college campuses as you might think. Hand, foot, and mouth disease can affect adults, too, especially if they didn't have it when they were younger and weren't able to build up an immunity to it. Plus, college dorms are basically a cesspool of germs, so it makes sense that an illness that spreads best via close contact would affect college students. So, if you notice a combination of a fever, mouth sores, and a skin rash, get right on over to student health to get it checked out. Image source: 22 Jump Street
Marijuana Use Is Higher Than You Might ThinkA study done last year by an organization called Monitoring the Future found that one in every 22 college students smoke marijuana at least 20 times a month, and that the number of college students who smoke marijuana has grown considerably each year since the surveys started in 1980. Statistically, this probably won't bother all that much. The same survey found that two thirds of college students believe that they believe a "little weed" every now and then is safe. So, if you get to your dorm on move-in day and find that it smells ever so slightly of weed, try not to be too surprised. (And, if it does bother you, you can always ask to move to substance-free housing.) Image source: Dazed And Confused
Drink Spiking Isn't Just A MythA study conducted on three U.S. college campuses last year (University of South Carolina, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Cincinnati) found that one in 13 college students has been drugged or suspect that they have been drugged. 79 percent of the students who said they had been drugged were female. This, researchers said, indicated that drink spiking isn't just an urban legend, but rather a very real, underrepresented problem occurring on many college campuses. Obviously, this doesn't mean that the onus of stopping drink-spiking is on you--it's still 100% on the people who, you know, spike other people's drinks. Still, it's good to be aware that there's (unfortunately) going to be some sketchy-ass stuff happening at your college. Image source: Old School
You're Gonna Be Stressed AFThis may not come as a surprise to you. But, just in case you were hoping that college would be less stressful than high school, that's, uh, probably not going to happen--in 2015, the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute found that first-year-college students' nationwide sense of emotional well-being was at its lowest since 1985, when they started conducting research on students' emotional health. This is likely due to a lack of sleep, academic and extracurricular over-extension, and the sense of isolation that can come from both. The takeaway from this? It's not your fault if you start feeling depressed, anxious, or too-stressed-to-function at some point in the school year. Instead, try to rely on any methods of support you have, like your friends, family, and the school counseling center. Image source: Dear White People
Were you surprised by any of these studies? Which ones? Let us know in the comments!