We all hear the word and groan with annoyance: freshmen. This feeling rolls over from high school and brings up images of colorful braces, fashion choices we all regret, and the constant state of being lost. But that was all way back then! As a college freshman, you’re much more sure of yourself than you were when you first left the halls of middle school plunging straight into the land of upperclassmen. You have a better understanding of who you are, what you wear, and where you are. Or do you? Accept it, every freshmen makes mistakes. But it doesn’t always have to be that way! Below are 20 mistakes every Grand Valley State University freshman makes, so while you’re still figuring everything out, know that you are far from alone in making these blunders.
1. Spending too many debit dollars, too quickly.
Depending on what plan you have, you will be given either $150, $250, or $350 dining dollars to spend on restaurants and convenience stores around campus. The more dining dollars your plan includes, the less meals you are allowed each week. It seems so great at first having all that money to spend on Qdoba (yes, Qdoba is dining dollars only), but you may quickly find yourself running low. Pace yourself to make sure you still have some to spend on all the coffee you’ll drink during finals week!
2. Pulling an all-nighter (if anything, it’ll make you do worse).
It has been planted in your mind over the years that it is super common for college kids to stay up all night without getting a wink of sleep just to finish that essay that they procrastinated on. And it’s completely accurate! However, it is also completely awful for your health, grades, and overall wellbeing. I’ve found that not sleeping in an effort to cram for the exam you have in the morning is one of the most ineffective ways to ace tests. You’ll be tired, irritable, and unable to perform at your best, no matter how many iced coffees from the C-Store you buy. Trust me–study during the day, and sleep at night. It works.
3. Going to the same dining hall every day.
There are five dining halls at GVSU that each offer many different meal options. Take advantage of this! Even though dining hall food can get boring no matter what, at least try and mix it up a little bit by not going to Kleiner every day just because it’s the closest one to your dorm. Doing that will just make the food get old faster. Instead, make sure you go to Fresh for brunch, get some tacos from Zoca in Kirkhof, or treat yourself to some locally grown food from The Connection!
4. Scheduling an 8am because “waking up early won’t be that hard.”
This is probably one of the most common errors made when freshmen schedule their classes. You’re stuck between a night class that goes from 6-9 and an 8 am that meets twice a week, because all of the normal times have filled up. My advice? Never take the 8 am. Yes, being in class at night is hard, but what is even harder is trying to wake up at dawn to avoid being late to that 8 am. Don’t do this to yourself. Please.
5. Too much sleep, not enough class.
This one ties into not scheduling an 8 am. You had a long night of staying up with friends or studying for that exam, and the last thing you want to do is wake up super early for class. So, you sleep in and skip. And it happens again. And again. Go to class! It is easy participation points that can really build up your grade. Also, falling behind in class and scrambling to catch up is no fun at all. Just take a nap when you get home instead.
6. Forgetting to check blackboard–it’s so important!
Chances are when you were in high school, the teacher handed out the homework to you every day and made you get out your planner to record it so it wouldn’t be overdue. Unfortunately, this is not how college works. Most GVSU professors use the website called Blackboard, where they post announcements, assignments, and even study tools. I cannot stress enough that you need to check it! Believe me, watching your grade slip when you miss an assignment that was posted but you forget to check Blackboard is the worst feeling ever. If you tend to be a little forgetful, get the Blackboard app and turn on the notifications! This way you’ll never miss an assignment or class cancellation. You’re welcome.
7. Letting your laundry/chores pile up.
Let’s face it. You don’t live with your parents anymore. Mom is not going to do your laundry for you every Sunday then leave it nicely folded on your bed. Welcome to dorm life, where there are only 15 laundry machines per 200 people. Don’t let it pile up, and please, don’t make yourself resort to wearing dirty socks because you’re too lazy to wash them. You deserve better.
8. Not leaving your door open when you’re home. Meet the people on your floor; they are your neighbors!
Something you should make sure to do at least the first few weeks here is get to know your neighbors. How does one go about this? Leave the door open! An open door is a sign that you’re willing to meet just about anyone walking by and will encourage others to do the same! These people will be your neighbors for the next nine months, so you should get to know them as soon as you can to build some friendships early on.
9. Going to Late Night on too many late nights during the week.
I’m not going to lie to you, Late Night is pretty much the greatest thing ever to grace GVSU’s campus. It has snacks such as mozzarella sticks, brownie ice cream sundaes, wings, etc. Yep, you probably just gained ten pounds by reading that. If anything will give you the Freshmen 15, it’s this. Now, while it is something that everyone should go to at least once, don’t let the late night munchies drive you there every night.
10. Over committing to too many student organizations.
While freshmen are encouraged to get involved at college, there is such a thing as signing up for too many things. Clubs are definitely where you will make a lot of friends and contribute to the Grand Valley community, but they can also take up a lot of your time. Balancing studying with extracurriculars can be tough on its own, so don’t make it too hard on yourself by saying yes to a bunch of clubs. Narrow it down to one or two that you are really passionate about, and make sure you ask questions about how much time each will require.
11. Not buying/wearing proper winter clothing (its Michigan-it gets cold!!)
Let’s be honest–Michigan gets cold. Buy a parka, some very cozy scarves, and heavy winter boots. And please, please wear them. It’s always colder than you think!
12. Getting into a relationship with someone in your dorm/floor.
I know that it can be so tempting when you see that cutie who is living down the hall, trying to not to bat your eyelashes and giggle every time they say something, funny or not. It’s a bad idea. No matter how sweet, smart, or attractive they are, there is always a chance that it could go wrong. Then suddenly, you are living in the same building on the same floor as your ex in the blink of an eye. It’s not fun, and it’s not worth it. There are 30,000 people at this school; pick one that doesn’t live with you!
13. Only staying on campus- West Michigan has so much to offer, so explore!
While Grand Valley has a beautiful campus, make sure you don’t just hole up here and never venture outside the blue arch! From the awesome city of Grand Rapids to the lake towns of Holland and Grand Haven, there are plenty of places in West Michigan to see! The bus will take you into Grand Rapids for free, and if you know someone with a car, persuade them to go to the beach! Getting off campus is something everyone needs to do at some point, so pick a destination and go!
14. Scheduling classes back to back without breaks.
Trying to get all of your classes out of the way in one “block” sounds like it would be a good plan. And while it may be nice to just get them all done in a matter of hours, you need to think about scheduling in some time for things such as meals, downtime, etc. Chances are you’ll get hungry in between classes and not being able to stop for food is the worst feeling ever. Instead, try to leave yourself at least an hour in between every two classes. You’ll thank me later.
15. Getting an MIP.
Probably one of the biggest mistakes any freshmen will make, and also one of the easiest to make. If you’re going to drink, be very smart about where you are and who you’re with. Also, it’s important to make sure you have a designated driver so that everyone gets home safely. The police on GVSU’s campus are very strict when it comes to drinking, and the last thing you want to do is call home to tell your parents you got busted. Bottom line, if you’re going to drink, be smart about it and safety should always be put first.
16. Not taking advantage of our state-of-the-art rec center.
This is probably the only time in your life you’ll get to use such a big rec center for (technically) free! There are so many new machines, a nice indoor track, and courts to use so you can play a game of pickup basketball whenever! Plus, working out helps relieve stress, so what better a place to unwind than the beautiful, brand new rec!
17. Losing your I.D. and/or access keys every day.
They are super tiny and very easy to lose, but don’t make this mistake! When you lose your access or I.D. card, it costs money to replace them. Also, it makes getting around campus super inconvenient since all of your meals are loaded to your ID card, and you need the access card to get into the dorms! And if you happen to be in a dorm that uses keys for your door, the charge for losing it can be up to $75. Ouch. Buy yourself a nice card holder from the Laker Store to ensure you’ll always have them on you to avoid annoying fees!
18. Missing the Presidents Ball
This is one event that everyone should attend at some point, and your freshmen year is the perfect time to go! Even if dressing up and dancing isn’t your thing, it’s an experience unlike any other for probably cheaper than your former high school’s homecoming. So go out, wear your best, and have a good time alongside about 2,000 other Lakers!
19. Not going to Transitions Orientation
While many people will tell you that this is a waste of time, I promise you it was one of the major events that helped me adjust as a freshman. Not only will you get closer with the people that live on your floor, but the programs help you familiarize yourself with the campus! Otherwise, you’re stuck sitting in your dorm and not meeting anybody new, which is no fun and will set you back when everyone else know each other and the campus better than you do.
20. Forgetting to enjoy the college experience that comes with being a Laker!
The most important one, in my opinion. Yes, college can be very stressful and overwhelming especially when you are adjusting to it as freshmen, but don’t let it get you down! There are so many amazing things Grand Valley has to offer to make your freshmen year amazing, so make sure to allow yourself free time in between studying to take advantage of them. Now take this advice and run with it, Laker, and have a wonderful freshmen year, you’ve earned it!