No matter how much we hate waking up early for school or studying all night for those exams, we all know that education is the most important thing we can do for our professional lives. However, just as with most important fields in life there are many false statements about college, high school, and every other educational institution. Here are some of the most common education myths and what you can actually expect when you seek to further educate yourself.
The best time to visit colleges is after you have been admitted.
Many students have fallen for this myth only to find that none of the colleges to which they were admitted “felt” right when they visited. If possible, visit before you apply and again after you have been admitted. If you can visit only once, make it before you decide to apply.
A relatively unknown college or university is probably bad.
You may not hear of many of the nation’s best colleges but that doesn’t mean anything. Athletics on television is how most colleges get to be known, but many colleges do not get that kind of exposure. Don’t let name recognition determine a good or bad college.
Teachers have no clue about what they teach.
All right, this myth probably started with angry students and parents but the truth is that twenty-eight states require secondary-level instructors who have majored in the subject area they plan to teach. All candidates must pass content exams before completing their program or being certified to teach. Twelve states require elementary school teachers to have earned a content degree, and nineteen require middle school teachers to do the same. To make a long story short, more than 90 percent of teachers nationwide know what they are doing.
Teachers work less but get paid a lot.
This is another popular misconception that every report conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has exposed as false, since teachers in the United States spend about 1,050 to 1,100 hours per year teaching on average, which is one of the highest worldwide. Additionally, teacher salaries across the world are far lower than those earned by other workers with higher education credentials.
Most teachers don’t care about their students.
There are many people who claim that most teachers don’t care about their students, don’t try hard to improve the educational system, and that all they care about is their paycheck. Even though this may be true for a small minority, the vast majority of teachers become teachers because they do care and want to help. If student performance is low, it doesn’t automatically mean teachers don’t care.
The whole “Teacher-Proof” Myth
Simply put, there are no teacher-proof solutions. The human task of helping a student cannot be replaced by automated learning models, or by one all-purpose, one-size-fits-all instructional method arising from trial and error.
Teachers are the only source of learning.
Learning is an interactive process. Teachers are not the only people in the classroom who have valuable knowledge to share. Students, too, can teach each other and benefit from working together.
Teacher preparation doesn’t really benefit the students.
This myth has been exposed again and again by the National Bureau of Economic Research, which has shown many times that new teachers with more extensive clinical training produce higher student achievement rates and retain their positions longer than teachers with less preparation.
Student achievement has been declining for years.
Despite what some rumors suggest, today’s students perform as well, if not better, as their parents in terms of standardized assessment tests and high school graduation rates. There is simply no hard evidence for the myth that student performance has been declining for decades.
You will have large loans to repay when you graduate.
All over the United States, on average, students will usually have only $2,500–$3,500 per year in loans. At most private colleges this represents less than 20 percent of the annual tuition. Depending on the loan, you will usually have ten years to repay it and you don’t start the repayment until after you graduate. The difference between what you can pay plus your loans, if you have any, can most likely be made up by grants that you will not have to repay.
Standardized tests are more important than your high school grades.
This is a false impression many young men and women who intend to enter college have even though in most cases performance in high school is a better predictor of college success than standardized tests. Of course, that does not necessarily mean that most colleges won’t look at your SAT or ACT scores since some state institutions where they have far more applicants than they can fairly assess will most likely use test scores to determine if you are eligible.
Small classes produce greater results.
Even though numerous studies have shown that smaller classes, especially in college settings, can produce certain improvements there is no true evidence that it benefits students on a wide-enough scale to make a difference. Considering the financial challenges of breaking students up into smaller groups, hiring more teachers, and investing in more resources, reduced class size should not be viewed at as a balanced solution.
Private and charter schools are educating kids better.
If one takes a look at the NAEP scores of private and charter school students, one will clearly see they are no better than those of public school students. Studies suggest that the “boons” of private schools may amount to nothing more than the exposure to other students with educated parents and affluent backgrounds.
Liberal arts colleges do not have good science programs.
Keep in mind that the term “liberal arts” is a shortened version of the full name: liberal arts and sciences. Most liberal arts colleges have been emphasizing science for all students for a century or more. Yep, the myth is just well . . . a myth.
Test scores are related to economic competitiveness.
If one takes into account a country such as Japan, whose current economy lags while its students continue to ace assessment tests, one can easily understand that quality education can prevail in an economically struggling nation.
More homework means more learning.
Numerous surveys have shown that more homework doesn’t necessarily mean more learning. This is especially true for grade school and middle school students. In an effort to redesign the student workload, many districts around the US have begun prohibiting homework on weekends, holidays, and even weeknights.
You should go to the most prestigious college to which you get accepted.
This is one of the biggest mistakes many students make out of vanity and poor judgment. You should go to the college that “fits” you best, not the most well-known one. Now, if it happens to be prestigious too, more power to you.
It's all about the good grades.
This is a trap that many students often fall into even though survey after survey shows that modest success in advanced or accelerated courses indicates to a college that you seek and can handle challenging courses such as those you will find in college. A challenging college preparatory program or some advanced placement courses will help you get into more selective colleges.
Your career will be doomed if you don’t get admitted to your first choice.
Well, rejection of any kind is really hard for our ego but the fact is that tens of thousands of students each year do not get admitted to their first choice and yet most of them end up successful one day after all. Ask Tom Brady for example who studied in his 26th (or something like that) choice.
Only the very best students receive financial aid from colleges.
This is one of the biggest lies you could hear when it comes to the educational system since it is a proven fact that if you are admitted and show financial hardship, colleges generally want to make it possible for you to attend. In fact, the greatest proportion of financial assistance at private colleges tends to go to students in the middle of the spectrum. High-achieving students or those with special talents may receive “merit-based scholarships.”
The federal government provides most of the financial aid.
Actually, government funds comprise only a very small portion of the financial aid available. In fact, the government continually reduces the amount of grant money—money that does not need to be paid back. Private student loan companies are the ones who supply the largest portion of financial aid.
A better economy means a better education.
Since 1970, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has been administered yearly to a representative sample of US students, and the scores have not correlated positively with the boost in budget and the rise of technology over time.
The disadvantaged won’t be as competitive and successful.
There is no evidence whatsoever that students from disadvantaged communities have a lower capacity to learn than students from privileged backgrounds. According to studies some students from lower socioeconomic classes may perform worse on assessments, experience more anxiety than students from higher socioeconomic classes, and tend to react more negatively to authority. However, none of this was considered to be due to lower educational capacity.
College is only for four years.
This is probably one of the biggest myths ever about the educational system in the country. Four years is the ideal, sure, but according to various surveys only one out of five students completes college in four years and this comes from someone who needed about seven years to graduate law school.
If you never go or drop out of college you will never make it big.
Ellen DeGeneres, Ted Turner, Brad Pitt, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg who left Harvard to invent that site we all spend way too much time on, are just a few of the many super successful college dropouts who made it big without graduating. Want more?