10 Mistakes College Freshmen Make and How to Avoid Them

We all make mistakes. Freshman year can be a rough transition, and it’s hard to figure out which decisions will cost you later on. While most mistakes can be remedied, here are the top 10 blunders that college freshmen make and how to avoid them:

stepping in gum

1. Buy textbooks without comparing prices

College bookstores are notorious for expensive textbook prices. While it’s convenient to buy textbooks on campus, you can save up to hundreds of dollars on textbooks by comparing prices on various online websites. 

Unless your professor requires a specific, new edition of a textbook, you can get away with buying used books from amazon.com. You can also rent textbooks from places
like chegg.com, bigwords.com, or half.ebay.com.

2. Ignore emails

Most college freshmen aren’t in the habit of checking their email frequently.

You don’t want to be that student who shows up for an 8 am class only to find out that it’s been canceled. Nor do you want to wake up at 7 am and realized that you can’t register for classes because you didn’t get clearance from your advisor or admissions counselor.

Email is the primary mode of contact for professors, administrators, and staff so check your email at least once a day to make sure you’re not missing any important announcements and notifications.

3. Go home every weekend

As tempting it may be to go home to do laundry or hang out with your old high school friends, try to stay on campus during the weekends. Your college is going to be your home for the next four years so get comfortable on campus. 

Make the most out of your weekends by catching up on your schoolwork, hanging out with friends, attending sports games and other events, and plugging into a local church. While it’s great to spend time with your family if you can, it’s all about finding a balance between your school life and your home life.

4. Overcommit

While college is a great time to get involved in a multitude of clubs and activities, don’t overextend yourself by signing up for too many things. You may find it difficult to balance your schoolwork, clubs, intramurals, and ministry when you say “yes” too often.

Prioritize what’s most important to you and utilize good time management skills to succeed in college.

5. Focus solely on academics

On the flip side of oversocializing is holing up in your room and studying 24/7. While college is a time to pursue your intellectual interests and prepare yourself for a professional career, get the most out of college by participating in clubs and meeting new people. 

As a freshman, you probably have a good amount of free time. Even if you feel really busy, remember that your coursework will only get heavier. Take advantage of your freshman year by exploring new interests, hanging out with friends, and going on weekend getaways.

6. Wait until next year to get involved

Many freshmen are afraid to commit to clubs and activities. Don’t wait until the next year to get involved. Although you may feel like you’re at the bottom of the totem pole, you have a voice and an opportunity to step up as a leader and shape your college culture.

If you’re interested in playing a sport, attend an orientation session. If you’re looking to get involved with the student newspaper, email the editor and ask what positions are open. Don’t be afraid to be proactive and dive into things!

7. Let your parents finance your education

If you don’t know what the cost of your college education is, find out right away. Even if your parents are helping you pay for college, it’s important that you know how they are budgeting the costs.

If you’re taking out loans, make sure you know how much you’re taking out and what the interest rates are. Don’t go through four years of college without responsibility (even a little) for the financial burden of college.

8. Suffer in silence

Everyone struggles in college. If you find that you’re constantly fighting with your roommate, falling behind in your classes, or hurting in your personal life, talk to someone and get help right away. There is a wealth of resources in college: your RA, the academic resource center, counseling services, and more.

Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. There are people who care for you and will be more than willing to help you, whether you’re struggling physically, academically, emotionally, or spiritually.

9. Ignore your advisor

Your advisor is a trained professional who will help you schedule your classes and answer any questions you have about your major or the college. Discuss your personal and professional goals with your advisor, and come up with a plan together for how you can achieve those goals.

Your advisor is there to help you succeed. If you disagree with her, express your concerns. You may find that there is some miscommunication and clear things up with an intentional and focused conversation.

10. Put yourself in a box

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in college is putting yourself in a box—whether in your academics, social circle, or church life.

College is a time to discover new passions and interests, and learn more about yourself. So take courses that sound interesting simply for the sake of enjoying a new subject. Make lunch plans with your favorite professor. Attend service at a church of a different culture than your own. Study abroad in a country that doesn’t speak English. Or simply introduce yourself to the folks across the hall.

College is full of opportunities—make wise choices and gather all the advice you can from older friends and family. But don’t forget to have fun, do something out of the ordinary, and take risks!

Download a free Christian college guide for students

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