We all make mistakes; it is part of life and a vital part of the learning process. As a new freshman, you are probably both nervous and excited about the new independent environment. College gives you many opportunities to test and develop your skills in self-direction as you must monitor your own work, progress and assignment submissions. Here to help you have the best start as a college student, is a list of 5 common mistakes freshman make, and how to avoid them.
1. Lack of Communication with Professors
Communicating with your professors is one of the most important elements to achieving your academic goals and will continue to be so throughout your entire college career. Therefore, as a freshman, it is especially crucial that you learn to establish communications with your professors early. It may be initially intimidating to visit with a professor, but you will find that they are truly interested in helping you learn.
Confused by what is on the syllabus? Ask your professor. Don’t know why you got a bad grade on that paper? Ask your professor. Need an extension for an assignment because of personal or family reasons? ASK. YOUR. PROFESSOR. Most are very accommodating and understanding if you communicate with them early (rather than last minute) and they will also know you are putting the effort into the class.
2. Don’t Skip Class
There are all sorts of rumors that float around freshman year about classes, and maybe you’ve heard some of them. If the professor is not in the room by a certain time, class is cancelled, or attendance doesn’t matter because a professor may or may not have said attending class was optional. Don’t believe them, no matter what always try to attend class. This is a crucial piece of advice for college.
Not only do you risk missing important information by skipping class, but professors do observe and notice your attendance and lack of participation in class. You chose to attend college to further your academic education. Your education has been been paid for, whether it is by your parents, yourself, or a scholarship, money is being used for you to attend so don’t waste the opportunity you have been given.
3. Bad Spending Habits
Without your parents to guide you and help you manage your accounts you may risk falling into some bad spending habits during your freshman year. Eating at the school cafeteria may not seem very appetizing so instead, you decide to order out, a day out with your friends can turn into a shopping spree at the mall.
Don’t allow yourself to spend more than you can afford, instead set a limit for yourself or on your card. Create an allotted allowance for yourself including expenses such as toiletries, supplies, cell phone fees and other monthly charges. Don’t forget to make sure you have money set aside for unexpected expenses and emergencies. Something you can also do is to keep your receipts from eateries and shopping, this way you track and easily see your spending habits.
4. Food and Sleep
The freshman fifteen is not a myth, it is real, and it is waiting to happen to you, if you let it. Along with unhealthy eating is the lack of sleep, and you don’t do your body and brain any good if you don’t get at least 7 hours of rest each night. Your first year at college gives you a great amount of freedom, but it comes with equal amounts of responsibility. Eating healthy and getting the proper amount asleep has a far bigger impact on your academic and personal life than you may think.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t enjoy food or refrain from a late night out with friends but remember to pay attention to your body and balance out activities by scheduling them accordingly. You can do this by going to the gym or planning that party on a Friday night when you can sleep in the next day and still have enough hours left for your weekend studies.
5. Not Making Use of Your School’s Academic Help Centers
You feel embarrassed, you are a college freshman now. You graduated from high school, took the SAT/ACT, applied and finally got into college! So why is it that you’re not doing an amazing job in class your freshman year? How can it be that you don’t understand what the professor is teaching? It’s alright to feel a bit embarrassed and you are not alone. You worked hard and applied to get into this school and now you feel you are failing because you don’t understand and are struggling with the course work.
Academic support centers exist because students need help. It is a smart move to book a session for your calculus class, or for assistance with proofreading an essay that is due next week. Make full use of your school’s support centers. In addition to tutoring, the Academic Help Centers offer time management, note-taking and other helpful tools to help you succeed in college.