Freshman year can be a trying time for a wide variety of reasons. Students are in a new environment, and experiencing the most independence they have had in their lives. While this can produce a lot of great experiences, it can also lead to many mistakes. Some of these mistakes are natural and even expected, and others are more costly. Whatever the case may be, here are three of the most common mistakes of freshman year and how to best avoid them.
1. You Don’t Get Enough Sleep. In the first few months of freshman year, there is so much to do and see. For many, it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day, and ultimately the thing many students cut is sleep. For a few days, this may work, but over the course of the semester it will catch up to you. A lack of sleep makes you more susceptible to sickness, stress, and doesn’t allow you to perform your best in the classroom. While it may seem like you are missing out if you turn in early some nights, in actuality you are pacing yourself to enjoy the entire semester and not just the next few days. There is nothing worse than falling in a hole because you missed class, or were too sick to perform on a test.
The solution to this is to identify a couple of activities that are musts for you and other ones that you will do if you have extra time. If you approach extracurricular activities from this perspective, sleep won’t seem like an optional task and you won’t suffer many of the pitfalls associated with sleep deprivation. Making sleep a bigger priority than some activities that you only have a passing interest in is a great way to avoid this mistake.
2. You Skip Your Classes. Even if you are in a 200 person general education lecture hall, it still is important to go to class. First, there is a direct correlation between showing up and your academic success. Second, you never know what you will learn in certain classes. Sometimes, connecting the dots between disciplines leads to your biggest academic breakthroughs. After all, you are in college first and foremost to expand your mind.
It’s much easier said than done to get to class every day, so create an incentive for attending class. Either treat yourself to breaks, food, or any other reward or go the other way and owe a friend lunch if you miss class. Whatever system you set up, make sure you do something because it will go a very long way in ensuring your continued presence in class.
3. You Close Yourself Off. College is a time to venture out and explore. There is a tendency for many students to stick to the activities they did in high school, or not really do much at all. It may be nice to have this free time for a couple weeks, but there is a reason clubs and groups are one of students’ favorite parts about college. The bonds you make and experiences you have in these settings are something every student should experience.
To avoid this mistake, just make sure you are saying yes enough to potential opportunities. This doesn’t mean over extend yourself and get involved in everything, but if you have an inkling for something then try it out. Again, it’s important to temper the balance between being involved and being over involved. Make sure you are able to walk this fine line so your studies don’t suffer.
Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.