You’re about to head off to college, start your freshman year, and begin one of the most exciting times of your life! You’re looking forward to it, excited about it, and at the same time just slightly afraid of the unknown that waits just around the corner. But you’re going to have a great time, because college is all about FUN, right?! Wrong!!! Yes, college should be fun, and you will have some of the BEST times of your life in the next year. It’s likely that you’ll meet some new people who will become life-long friends. But ultimately, in the end, college is truly about SUCCESS in your college classes. Your goal is to obtain a college education and get a better job in your field of interest (AND have a little fun along the way). As you are enjoying your first few months on campus, keep your goal in mind, and try to avoid these six common mistakes that college freshmen make. These mistakes often cost a student time (to retake a class) and money (for additional tuition and lost scholarships) – both of which students almost always look back on with regret.
- Don’t get behind
Just a heads-up: You will be shocked at the workload in college. Take one look at the syllabus (a listing and timeline of the entire semester’s work), and you’ll realize that you’re not in high school anymore. The pace speeds up. The amount of material to cover becomes larger and more time-consuming. You may be reading a chapter (or more) in the textbook EVERY day. The key to good grades is TIME MANAGEMENT. On a calendar, plan out exactly what day you will do your reading, and do it. DON’T procrastinate and don’t get behind. If you leave three chapters of reading to do on the weekend, you’re likely to read one or two, leaving more to do the next week, on top of the newly assigned reading. This snowballs into an overwhelming pile of more work than you can complete before the exam – and usually leads to poor grades. Plan a full week to study for exams, and several weeks to write a paper. With good time management skills, you can do well in any class.
- Don’t take 8:00 classes, if you’re not a morning person
Sometimes it can’t be avoided, because the class you need is only offered at 8:00 am. But if you prefer to sleep in and you do your best in the afternoon, then try to schedule your classes at the time of day when your mind works best.
- Don’t skip class
It baffles me when students repeatedly skip class and then are surprised when they fail a course. Sometimes freshmen enjoy the new-found freedom of college. There is no parent there to force them to go to class, so they just don’t go. This is the time when you must show self-discipline, if you want to be successful. Exams are usually based on reading material AND the class lecture. It’s the REASON we have class. If you skip class and miss the lecture, then you are NOT going to know the answers to those questions on the exam. Skipping class = failing a course. Plain and simple. GO TO CLASS. (Even if it’s an early class that wasn’t available to take later in the day!)
- Don’t socialize too much
There’s a fine balance between staying in your room to study all the time – and socializing so much that you don’t have time to do your class reading and study for exams. Find the balance so you can make good grades and also have time to meet new people. Friends, study-groups, and attending social events are an important part of the college experience. So have fun. Just not TOO much fun.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Many students struggle with the workload or the course material, yet fail to ask for help from someone until it is too late to make a passing grade. If you do poorly on the FIRST exam in a class, ask your professor for suggestions about how to make a better grade next time. Your professor or Academic Services, can direct you to tutors, additional practice work, or study groups – to help you learn the required material. If YOU care about your grade, your professor will care about your grade.
- Don’t alienate your dorm roommate
Whether you like them or not, this person is going to be in your life, and very close to you in proximity, for an ENTIRE YEAR. Do your best to make a good first impression. Be giving, share nicely, clean up after yourself in the bathroom, and keep your belongings confined to your side of the room. A little kindness and consideration will go a long way. Also, come to an agreement about sharing food right away. Either buy your own food and eat only your own food; or agree to share everything (and share the bill). It’s the most common thing that roommates argue over, so it’s best to come to an agreement ahead of time. Even if your roommate is not someone you would normally be friends with, believe me, you don’t want an enemy sleeping in the same room with you. It makes things veeeery uncomfortable.
If you avoid these common mistakes, you have the chance for a very successful first year of college – which leads to more successful years – which leads to GRADUATION! Good luck this year, and God Bless!
** If you’re just a big puddle of tears right now, because you’re sending your child off to college (or know someone who is), read this and please share on social media: “5 Ways to Cope When Your Child Goes Off to College”. ( https://mainstreammomma.com/education/college/5-ways-to-cope-when-your-child-goes-off-to-college/ )