Starting college is an incredibly exciting time. Everything is new as you explore the landscape of the campus and are surrounded by potential friends. However, there are 20 common mistakes every college freshman makes. Take it from someone who has been there and would never wish the struggle on you!
The most widely spread example of an avoidable mistake, most of the time. I know, you woke up for class every day at that time from grade K-12 so how hard could it be? It can be incredibly draining and creates an even bigger obstacle if you are a commuter or working student. It is not enough to just be awake at this time, you need to be alert to pass the early morning class and not waste an incredible amount of money. There are times when the 8AM slot is the only one available but if it can be avoided, steer clear.
Classes Every Day
My very first semester I scheduled five classes ranging from 8AM to 1PM for every single day of the week. I figured this was a genius idea because I’d be done at campus before it even got remotely dark, my classes alternated from M/W/F to T/TH to give me time to do homework for the other, and I’d have tons of energy leftover. I can easily say now that I was dead wrong. Not only did I spend more money commuting every day, but it felt like I never left the classroom. I could have been strategic about my schedule and still graduated in the same amount of time. You’re going to need at least a day in between to get assignments done, run errands, and maintain that part-time job you desperately need. This is another one of the mistakes every college freshman makes.
You’re overloaded with take-home quizzes and group assignments for subjects that have yet to be a part of your major, so you decide that eating is not that important. You’ll save time and get things done faster. What you’ll realize a minute too late is that you will either run out of energy or you will get so irritable that your group mates will find it difficult to work with you. Sacrificing meals to save time or money is never worth it.
Tabling or Welcome Week is a time full of opportunities and free snacks if you sign up for certain clubs. It’s important to know when clubs meet, how often, and if you must make any deposits. It would be disheartening to spend so much talking to club officers only to realize that you already committed to a Badminton meeting the same night that Young Professionals meet up and you wanted to join both. This is another one of the mistakes every college freshman makes.
Last Minute Cramming
Sure there are people who can cram successfully but relying on this was your main strategy as a freshman is a mistake. Not only are you learning completely new material, but you are getting a feel for how the professor grades and they will see if you did not put in a good amount of effort. Giving generic answers on a short answer test because you didn’t thoroughly study the material will only hurt your grade in the end.
Ignoring Commute Time
If you are a commuter student like me, it is important to keep a steady track of time when you’re on campus. Sometimes you must set up group meetings outside of class or your friends want to just hang out for a while, but you must learn time management as a freshman. If you don’t, this results in you getting back home later than expected and staying up all night to finish assignments. This is another one of the mistakes every college freshman makes.
Blowing Your Budget
Maybe you grew up in a small town where you didn’t have an allowance or a job. You luckily applied for financial aid and you get to college with free money in your account. It is incredibly easy to spend this money on going out to eat, gifts, and shopping because of this newfound ownership. It should be spent on textbooks, scantrons, and snacks that will keep you awake during class breaks.
Bombarding Student Accounts
Perhaps something goes wrong with your tuition payment when you submitted it, so you begin rushing to the business office on campus. You’re out of breath, worried, and become extremely agitated when you see a giant line before you. As a freshman, you often make the mistake of thinking that you are the only college student. There is a plethora of people in the same boat as you and getting mad at another person working the student accounts will not get your tuition woes in order any faster.
Disregard for Maps
With a few narrow hallways, if you got lost in high school it was usually sorted out quickly. A mistake freshman often make is that they don’t map out their classes ahead of time. I mean figuring out where the buildings are and if you are going to make it there in time during the fifteen-minute interval. Not all your classes are going to be in Dante Hall near the front of campus, so it is best to be prepared.
Missing an email in college can become catastrophic if it happens too often. Professors rely on email to communicate assignments, office hours, and changes to the syllabus. If you don’t check your email every day, including the spam folder, you could miss an important announcement. This could range anywhere from traveling all the way to campus even though there was an email that said class was canceled or arriving on the wrong day for your final exam.
Some professors send you outside of the classroom for mandatory assignments and they will put it in the form of an invite. You open the email with the invite and think “I’ll click accept later” but then you forget, and the event unknowingly passes you by. Reply/respond to important invitations the minute you receive them to avoid a freshman year mishap.
Extra Credit Opportunities
A mistake that freshman make is that they assume extra credit opportunities will always be available. You will quickly find out that this is not the case and, in the event, that it is available, take full advantage of it. There is nothing wrong with having an extra cushion in case one of your test scores isn’t so great but remember not to depend on these extra points.
Lack Of School Spirit
One of the mistakes I made as a freshman was that I had zero school spirit. I went to class then went home which in hindsight was a waste. Activities design to promote school spirit are generally positive and bring people of many disciplines together. If you get involved your first year of college, it could lead to other opportunities down the line. This is another one of the mistakes every college freshman makes.
Not Anticipating Change
Even if you have a few friends back home who follow you to the same college, it is important to anticipate change freshman year. College is a time where you begin to discover or rediscover parts of yourself that you want to bring forward. Maybe these parts weren’t present in high school but there’s nothing wrong with that.
Be Gone Comfy Shoes
Matching your shoes with your outfit in color and style is something that generally fades away in college. A mistake freshman make is that they don’t take advantage of comfy clothes or comfy shoes! You are going to do a lot of walking on campus and what good is wearing heels in that type of scenario. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look presentable but also remain practical. This is another one of the mistakes every college freshman makes.
Attempting To Please Everyone
Your life is undergoing many changes as a freshman and this includes your schedule for down time. Trying to match up your schedule with friends at other colleges is not always going to work out. Attempting to meet up with every single person is only going to leave you exhausted on break and when you resume classes.
Bookstore Buy Back
In my experience, you end up with a whole mess of coins by participating in a school buyback program. Freshmen often make the mistakes of purchasing all their books in the bookstore where it is overpriced and are then baffled when they don’t receive that same amount back at the end of the semester. Take advantage of other retailers or former students to avoid this issue. This is another one of the mistakes every college freshman makes.
What’s The Weather
Nothing is more distracting than being soaking wet shivering in your lecture because you forgot to wear a jacket on the day it decided to storm. Making yourself known of the weather ahead of time will make sure that you are not distracted by something trivial and will make potential commuting home a lot less miserable!
I Don’t Need Help
I know how hard it is asking for help. As a freshman, you don’t want to be weak and you don’t want anyone to know you’re struggling. This does not work as a strategy. Your professor will see in the quality of your work that you are confused, and it is your job to reach out. They are happy to answer questions in person or in an email. This will show that you are actively trying to understand. It is a huge mistake to just hope it will work itself out. This is another one of the mistakes every college freshman makes.
Forgetting To Breathe
Being a freshman in college is challenging but it is not impossible. On those days where remembering all these steps is too overwhelming, take a deep breath. It’s okay to take a step back and remember that this is a journey you signed up for. There was no promise that it would be easy, but you can make it through.
Which one of these mistakes every college freshman makes did you do? Let us know in the comments.
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Rebecca was born in Hayward, CA and still resides there today. She received her BA in English Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and is the first in her family to graduate from university. She is a Poetry student in the MFA program at Saint Mary’s College of California and is furthering her involvement in the literary community. In her spare time, she likes to lose her voice at Giants games, read Young Adult novels, make lists, and aims to cross become a writer off it.