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10 Mistakes Many College Freshmen Make (and How to Avoid Them)

There’s nothing quite like the freshman year of college. For most new students, the initial year of college represents the first time they have ventured out on their own. This can lead to an unsettling, even frightening feeling for many. With Mom and Dad no longer providing constant guidance, many first-year students fall into bad habits, make hasty decisions, or exercise poor judgment. This can lead to costly mistakes.

Let’s take a look at some of the common mistakes that many freshmen make. We’ve also provided some solutions for avoiding them:

1. Oversleeping — It’s easy to fall into the habit of oversleeping when there’s no longer anyone there to roust you out of bed in the morning. Unfortunately, oversleeping can lead to missed classes and poor academic performance. A simple solution is to make a small investment in a reliable alarm clock. If you know you’re a late riser who simply cannot function at an early hour, consider scheduling your classes for later in the day if possible.

2. Cutting classes — Unlike high school, nobody will give you detention or call your parents if you decide to skip classes. As with sleeping late, cutting classes too often will likely lead to poor grades. Getting the notes from a buddy isn’t always a reliable option. You’ll also miss out on the valuable learning experience that can only be gained by actually attending class. You can limit the “grind” of attending classes by creating a schedule that leaves a free period between classes.

3. Procrastinating — The anxiety of needing to perform at a high level can lead to procrastination as an escape mechanism. This will cause you to fall behind on your studies. You can avoid procrastination by creating a balanced schedule that allows time for study and social time with friends. When you’re assigned a large project, begin immediately and complete it in small, manageable steps. This will help you avoid waiting until the last minute.

4. Not getting involved — Spending all your free time by yourself will only make you feel more isolated and alone. Making a concerted effort to meet new people and establish friendships can be an effective homesickness remedy. Consider joining clubs, getting involved with student events, or playing intramural sports.

5. Not seeking academic help — The college curriculum is much more demanding than high school classwork. This makes it easy to become overwhelmed. If you’re struggling academically, take advantage of your professors’ office hours to get the help you need. Competent tutors are also available on most college campuses.

6. Having “too much” fun — Many freshmen quickly become enamored by the fun lifestyle that accompanies college. With no parent-enforced curfews or other restrictions to keep them in check, too many students quickly discover that they’re not meeting their academic goals. This is another situation where creating a balanced schedule that leaves time for work and fun can work to your advantage. Choosing friends who are also committed to a balanced approach will help you avoid peer pressure.

7. Not adjusting your study/work habits — The more demanding nature of college courses means that your high school study habits probably won’t cut it. Consider creating detailed outlines for projects and exams, joining study groups, and actively participating in classroom discussions. Also try to set aside designated study periods each day.

8. Stocking up on credit cards — Most college freshmen are inundated with credit card applications. While compiling a collection of credit cards can be tempting to a cash-strapped college student, they can quickly lead to financial ruin. If you feel the need to have a credit card, your best bet is to stick to one card with a low limit. Shred any additional applications that come your way. And be sure to pay your bill on time every time!

9. Staying up all night to cram —  Many new college students mistakenly believe that staying up all night to cram for an exam is an effective preparation tactic. On the contrary, your lack of sleep will probably hinder your performance. A better approach is to spread your exam preparation out over multiple study sessions.

10. Choosing a major too early — Choosing the wrong major can quickly lead to disillusionment with college. Unless you’re completely sure about pursuing a specific academic/career path, use your freshman year as a time to explore your options.

If you find yourself experiencing any of these common problems, you’re not alone. By taking proactive measures to overcome these challenges, you’ll find yourself adjusting to the college lifestyle quickly.

CC Photo by Jessica Eve

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