Congrats! You’re a first year at one of the best and hardest schools in the world! College is a big change from high school and home, but it’s also the most fun time of your life. My friends and I have made a bunch of mistakes in our first semester, so read these 20 most common mistakes every Georgia Tech Freshman makes, and learn from them!
1. Thinking you’re not smart enough to be here.
Tech is one of the best schools in the U.S. and we are constantly surrounded by the smartest people ever. But when you’re rooming with people who have interned at Spotify or started their own companies already, you might have insecurities. Kamesh Darisipudi perfectly describes insecurities and Tech here. Everyone does it, but it’s important to remember that you all got into the same school. Never undervalue yourself and your capabilities.
2. Underestimating Georgia weather.
Georgia is the South. It is insanely humid here most of the year. That doesn’t mean it’s hot all the time. The weather switches from 80º and sunny to 60 º and rainy in one day. So be prepared with both shorts and an umbrella!
3. Not using your gatech.edu account.
Tech gives you your own Outlook365 account with cloud storage. Use it. The default is that it delivers to your personal email account, but that takes too long and it complicates your life. Your gatech.edu account is accessible though Buzzport and has access to the Tech email directories, which makes email that TA’s name you forgot so much easier.
4. Taking 8 am’s.
Don’t register for an 8 am class. I thought that because high school started at 8 am, I could do it. But I can’t. No one can. I missed or was late to half of the class and I was too tired to learn Calculus that early. So, I know it’s tempting but you’ll live to regret it.
5. Taking 15+ credit hours.
Do NOT do this. Georgia Tech is hard. Don’t make it impossible by taking on too big of a workload. Take your credit hours and multiply it by 3 or 4 (depending on how hard each class is) and that’s how many hours you’ll spend just studying. I took 16 hours my first semester. Combined with 8 am’s everyday, I fell behind in all my classes.
6. Stressing over Phase I Registration.
We’ve all done it. But Phase I Registration is where that dream schedule you put hours of effort into gets crushed. So be prepared to know that you probably won’t get all of the classes you wanted. Just know that Phase II Registration is everyone’s savior. People drop so many classes in the first week that you’ll definitely be able to get the classes you need to graduate.
7. Not having a backup schedule for Phase I Registration.
No one got the classes they wanted during Phase I, but that doesn’t mean anyone wants to be the person with only 4 registered credit hours. Have a backup schedule in case you don’t get the classes you want. Courseoff (www.gatech.courseoff.com) is your savior.
8. Thinking that there are easy majors.
Tech is hard. There are no easy majors here. We all have to deal with the same basic core curriculum on top of major specific classes. So don’t don’t think that Business or LMC student has it easy because they’re not crying over Java or Matlab. And if you think your own major is too hard for you, remember that there are no “easy” majors, only right majors.
9. Wearing your FASET lanyard AFTER orientation.
There’s being a freshman, and then there’s BEING a freshman. Don’t wear your orientation lanyard after orientation. Go to Burdell’s or Tech Square and get yourself an actual lanyard for you Buzzcard and keys.
10. Going off campus alone at night.
Don’t go off campus alone at night. It’s not safe. Tech is in the middle of Atlanta. GTPD keeps campus safe, but they can’t watch you walk to Publix at midnight just because you wanted some ice cream.
11. Using all of your dining dollars too soon.
You have $200 of tax-free dining dollars. It’s tempting to eat Panda Express or food trucks everyday, but $200 will only last you a month at most. Save a couple of dining dollars for a pick me up before that awful calc exam or a reward for acing that CS final.
12. Grabbing all of the free t-shirts.
The first few weeks are free t-shirt galore. Every club and sport is trying to recruit as many freshman as possible with as much free stuff as possible. But dorm closets are tiny. There isn’t space for t-shirts you’ll never wear.
13. Not doing laundry.
All those free shirts give an illusion that you don’t have to do laundry for weeks. But nothing is better than wearing freshly cleaned clothes. Plus, not smelling like dirty socks helps when you’re introducing yourself to a new professor or potential friend.
14. Not talking to your professors and TA’s.
Professors and TA’s are there to teach you. If you don’t understand something, go ask for help. That’s what TA’s are specifically paid to do.
15. Not doing your homework.
Homework can make a letter grade difference. Plenty of freshmen have failed or almost failed classes because they underestimated the impact of homework. Also, doing your homework helps you understand the material better. So even if myMatLab is the worst, you should still do your homework.
16. Going to class when you’re sick.
Class is already stressful enough when you’re healthy. Don’t go to class when you have a fever or you feel awful. You don’t learn much and it only slows down the healing process. Sometimes, you have to prioritize your health over class.
17. Not using campus resources.
From tutoring to getting free condoms, Tech has you covered. Tech wants you to be healthy and succeed. So, go to those help desks with your CS 1371 questions and go to STAMPS if you feel sick. Georgia Tech knows that you can’t do well if you aren’t healthy.
18. Not going to the career fair. You’re a first year and you have no work experience?
That shouldn’t stop you from going to the career fair. Tons of companies, from Google to Chick-fil-A, come to Tech to recruit. Even if you don’t get hired, the career fair is a learning experience.
19. Not sleeping enough. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Tech is hard.
But going to Tech and getting 3 hours of sleep is the worst. Take care of yourself so you’re awake enough to learn.
20. Forgetting to have fun.
Even though Tech is super stressful and hard, don’t forget to have fun. You’re in college! This is the best time of your life! Don’t stress yourself out all the time. Take a break and watch a movie or explore Atlanta. College is a time of experiences. You’ll regret missing that party or movie night with your friends more than you’ll regret taking a few hours off from studying.