College freshmen are notorious for stumbling into college and slamming right into a sharp learning curve. Many college freshmen are out on their own for the first time, living in dormitories with each other, and with more freedom and responsibility than they really know what to do with. There is no escaping making mistakes in college. However, some mistakes can set the stage for dropping out or not completing a degree. This can have lifetime repercussions.
What are the seven deadly sins of freshmen year?
- Missing Class
Get to class! Do not miss class! Attendance is often the bulk of the grade in your class, and attendance can literally save your grade. Students are graded on presence and participation. Just because you now don’t have to get permission to stay home from school does NOT mean you should skip class. Not to mention cutting a class once or twice can quickly escalate into a damaging habit. Being present in class means you actually learn the course content, get a sense of what the teacher wants in your assignments, and also contributes to your participation grade. If it helps, divide your tuition by the number of classes you are in, and look at how much money you waste each time you miss class. Make an effort to get to every class every day, and save your absences for when you really need them.
- Not Proofreading Papers
Never submit an assignment without proofreading it first! Proofreading is an important habit to establish as soon as possible. Don’t waste your grades on misspellings and grammatical mistakes. While some professors overlook in grading on its face, reading a paper that has not been proofed is not enjoyable, and the paper itself feels like you didn’t put in your best effort. This will reflect negatively in your grade. Take the extra time to proofread your work and your grades will thank you for it.
- Time Mismanagement
Get a planner and use it. College freshmen suddenly have a much heavier workload than they have likely ever had before. At the same time, they also have more opportunity to socialize and get involved in school activities and projects, and many students also have jobs to attend to. Mismanaged time means missed deadlines, missed sleep, and missed school. Mismanaged time is hard to bounce back from, and can quickly lead to stress and health problems. Start fresh with a daily planner and make sure you factor in time to study, and to socialize. Beware of stretching yourself too thin. Be honest with yourself about what you need to do each day for school, for work, and for your own personal wellness.
- Not Getting Involved in Campus Life
Forgoing social and extracurricular activities to focus on academics is another common mistake freshmen make on the other side of the same coin. This also leads to dropping out because without integrating into the culture of campus life, students have trouble fully investing in their college education and experience. Lack of involvement and feeling isolated leads to switching schools or dropping out of college entirely. Switching schools – while sometimes it is a good choice – causes students to loose credit for courses completed that don’t transfer over. Also, integrating into a new school all over again comes with the same challenges that caused the switch in the first place. Make an effort to get involved in campus life beyond academics to some extent – even if it’s just one or two nights a week.
- Not Reading the Syllabus
READ YOUR CLASS SYLLABI!! Know what makes your grade, what your class rules and attendance policies and late work policies are, and know when your tests and assignment deadlines are. Know what readings you need to have done ahead of time before class, and understand the unique requirements each different professor has of you. Students who do not carefully look over their class syllabi have trouble with time management because there is no way to know what they are managing. Additionally, there will be times when school gets overwhelming and you need to turn in a paper late or miss a class. When you know what your professors’ policies are when it comes to attendance and late assignments, you can make these difficult choices from an informed perspective. Always communicate with your professors if you have any questions about the syllabus, or will need to miss class or turn in an assignment a day or two late, and know the policies of the professor you are communicating with.
- Forgoing Campus Resources
College campuses have resources to help students with common problems that arise, particularly in freshmen year. Tutorial services, academic advising, learning apps, office hours, and study groups are all available to students who are struggling – or who are not struggling. Accessing these resources, talking to your advisor and your professors, and working with your classmates to optimize your study time are all things you should start doing first semester freshman year.
- Long-Distance Relationships
Trying to maintain your long-distance relationship from high school is usually a recipe for heartbreak and disaster. Okay, maybe that’s a little melodramatic, and in some cases long-distance relationships work during college depending on the people involved, but in most cases they detract from students fully integrating into campus life and making the most of their college experience. Visiting back and forth take students away from school, and students miss out on opportunities to connect with their local peers. Long-distance relationships take time and energy that are in short supply freshman year of college. At the same time, young adults in college learn so much about themselves, and change so much over the course of freshman year. Maintaining a relationship while two people live far apart and change so much is stressful, difficult, and distracting to say the least. Of course, many students find that this mistake is a life lesson that must be lived out as part of the growth and change process. Be careful to not let it detract too much from your success in college freshman year, and be careful to not let a long-distance relationship lead you to make big decisions you can’t take back…like switching schools or dropping out entirely.
Making mistakes and learning from them is all part of the college experience. Just make sure that the mistakes you make do more good in learning through them than harm in permanent setbacks. If your freshman year has already lead you into some of these mishaps – such as moving across country for a relationship that does not work, loosing class credits in switching schools, or dropping out and getting caught in the inertia of work and life outside of college – you still have options to get back on track. Visit us at thecareerpeople.com for a free consultation.