15 Common College Freshman Mistakes to Avoid

From college kids who have been there... avoid these pitfalls

by Nancy Reynolds

This Post: 15 Common College Freshman Mistakes to Avoid

Little compares to the sheer excitement of venturing off to college…

From enjoying the freedom of living on your own and attending football games and tailgate parties to meeting tons of new people and navigating a whole new way of life – college freshmen have so much to look forward to.

However, in the midst of all that excitement lies a few pitfalls every freshman should avoid. To ensure your freshman has a great year, here are 15 common college freshmen mistakes to avoid.

15 Common College Freshman Mistakes to Avoid


1.  Not Realizing How Hard the Transition Will Be

Heads up, college freshmen… brace yourself. You might think the transition into college will be a breeze, but I’m here to tell you, it won’t be. In fact, most college freshmen don’t find their stride until well into their second semester. There’s just SO much to learn. From finding your way around campus and getting adjusted to dorm life and living with a roommate to juggling a demanding schedule and learning how to study effectively – it’s one serious adjustment. Just cut yourself some slack.. nearly everyone struggles at first. 

2. Skipping Class

Oh, how comfy your bed will feel on a chilly, rainy day or after you stayed up a little too late at that party down the hall. But keep your priorities in order and don’t get in the habit of skipping class. Unless you’re sick or literally unable to get to class, make a vow to yourself to never skip. Even missing one class can set you back big time and put you behind the eight-ball. And, in college, it can be awfully hard to catch up. 

3. Not Managing Time Effectively

Most college freshmen will agree that the absolute best part about being in college is having so much freedom. But for many freshmen, all that freedom backfires.

With the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want, it’s easy to get sidetracked and forget how important it is to manage your time effectively.

Make sure you buy yourself a great planner so you can map out your assignments and deadlines AND pencil in some fun. Don’t procrastinate and don’t cram… college isn’t like high school. 

4. Not Reaching Out and Connecting with Professors

Ask any seasoned college student and they’ll tell you, your professors are there to help you succeed… reach out to them. Most (if not all) have after-hours where they invite students to visit with them if they need help with a concept or clarification on an assignment.

Take advantage of this time with your professors. Not only can they help you pass your class, they have mounds of real-world experience they can share and many will be willing to write a letter of recommendation down the road when you’re on the hunt for a job. 

5. Scheduling Early Morning Classes

It might sound like a great idea to schedule your classes early in the morning so you can get them out of the way and have the rest of the day to study and enjoy life, but most college freshmen regret it. Unless you’re a morning person, you’ll be surprised how difficult it will be to drag yourself out of bed at 10 a.m. let alone 8 a.m. 

6. Not Embracing the Full College Experience

Nearly every happy college student will tell you, to really enjoy college life, you have to get involved.

Join a club or organization, volunteer for a cause, do a sport or recreational activity, or get involved in Greek life… there’s so much more to college than going to class and studying. Don’t miss out on everything your college has to offer – have fun!

7. Not Addressing Roommate Issues When They Arise

I know the idea of living with someone you barely know sounds intimidating, but most college kids actually get into the rhythm of living with a roommate rather quickly. Still, there might be a few bumps in the road that need addressing. Instead of getting frustrated or holding a grudge, tackle those issues as they arise. The more open your communication is, the easier it will be to live together harmoniously.

8. Waiting Too Long to Ask for Help

College isn’t like high school. You can’t rely on a quick cram session to pull your grade up and you really can’t “skim by” and expect to pass a class. College is hard. The sooner you reach out for help if/when you’re struggling, the quicker you can get back on track. Get to know a few classmates, organize a study group, reach out to your professor or the teacher’s assistance for help or hire a tutor. Don’t wait until it’s too late to seek out help – it’s one of the biggest regrets of college students. 

9. Forgetting Why You’re There

Sure, you need to embrace the full college experience and make amazing memories, but you’re in college for a reason – to learn, get a degree and one day land a rewarding position. Don’t make the mistake of losing sight of that. 

10. Being… Well, Boring

There are a ton of expectations placed on college kids to succeed – by their parents, professors, and even themselves. But college is all about balance. Don’t spend all your time with your head in the books, constantly turn down friends because you have to study, or focus so heavily on succeeding academically that you become… well, boring. Have a little fun, make friends, and enjoy college! Life will become FAR too serious soon enough. 

11. Partying Too Much

The one thing you’ll find in college is that there will always be a party somewhere. It’s all too easy to put off studying so you can go to that big frat or sorority party everyone’s going to or that fun pool party that’s the talk of the campus. But beware, college freshmen, all that partying can take its toll – not only on your grades but on your body and your ability to keep pace with college life. Sure, have fun, go to parties, and get a little rowdy… occasionally. Don’t get wrapped up in the heavy party scene. You’ll end up paying the price.

12. Taking Too Many Credits Hours

That first year of college is one huge transition. Give yourself time to adjust to college life by taking it a little easy at least for the first semester. Ease into the heavy load slowly until you know what you can handle. The last thing you want to do is pile on tons of credit hours only to find you can’t handle it and you end up struggling or failing classes. (It happens!)

13. Putting Your Health & Well-Being on the Backburner

Partying until the wee hours of the morning, getting three hours of sleep, pulling all-nighters, and living off cold pizza and beer won’t cut it in the long run. Eventually, you’re going to figure out that to be successful in college you really have to take care of yourself.

Exercise, get enough sleep, eat healthily, drink modestly, AND protect your mental health. If you feel sick, overwhelmed or your become depressed, don’t wait to reach out for help. Everyone needs a little help now and then. 

14. Living Off Campus The First Year

Having an apartment is great, but if you really want to get to know people and make friends, you can’t beat living on campus for at least the first year. Remember, every freshman on campus is in the exact same boat as you are… looking for friends. Go out of your way to meet your neighbors across the hall, prop open your dorm door, and put yourself out there. 

15. Not Looking Long-Term

College isn’t just about getting an education, it’s about landing a future position in the real world, which means you have to think long-term. Don’t post crazy party pictures on your social media (that future employers could see), don’t do anything illegal that could land you in jail, and don’t do anything that will make you end up regretting it later. Some mistakes have serious staying power. 

College life is fun, exciting, and memorable… but, just be sure to be smart about it and avoid big mistakes. 

If you enjoyed reading, “15 Common College Freshman Mistakes to Avoid,” check out these posts!

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