Ah, the college years. In American culture, these four years serve as a buffer between adolescence and adulthood, an in-between period during which you begin to make your own decisions and take charge of your own destiny. Just like learning to ride a bike, there comes a time when you have to take off the proverbial training wheels – and take a few inevitable spills – before you finally get the hang of it.
Mistakes, pitfalls, slip-ups, gaffes, blunders. Whatever you want to call them, you’re bound to make more than your fair share during your college years. But there are two kinds of mistakes: temporary setbacks that you can use as an opportunity to learn and grow, and major mess-ups that can throw your entire college career off-track. If you make too many mistakes of the more serious variety during your freshman year, the negative consequences could reverberate far into the future.
As the school year draws to a close, college newspapers across the country have surveyed their first-year student populations, asking these no-longer-newbies what advice they have to pass on to next year’s crop of freshmen. The following list is a compilation of some of the most frequently-cited freshmen blunders – basically, it’s a crash course in how NOT to kick off your college career.
1. Playing hooky. For the first time in your life, you are completely free to choose whether or not to go to class. After the authoritarian dictatorship of the high school environment, many freshmen fall prey to the sudden freedom and wind up missing dozens of classes during their first year of school, only to find out that there’s no way they can make up all their missing assignments.
2. Partying too hard. The intoxicating freedom of college life has led many a freshman down the path of over-the-top hedonism. Cutting loose is a rite of passage in college, but try to play it safe and celebrate in moderation.
3. Falling back on your high school study habits. If you did well in high school, you gained some skills that will probably come in handy in college. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the time and attention you paid to your readings and assignments in high school is going to cut it in college. This is a whole ‘nother ball game, and you’ll need to step it up if you want to make the grade.
4. Overstuffing your course schedule. It can be tempting to make use of every spare moment you have, but be sure to give yourself enough study time between classes. During your first semester, especially, a light schedule can allow you more time and space to make a successful transition to college life.
5. Getting stuck in a rut. College is a time to learn more about yourself and your interests. Now that you’re on campus, make an effort to branch out a bit and try new things. Don’t limit yourself to the same hobbies, interests, and friends that you held on to in high school. Instead, go forth and experiment!
If you’ve already survived your first year of college, what advice would you give to incoming freshmen? If you’re planning to hit campus for the first time this fall, what mistakes are you going to try hardest to avoid? Unleash your wit and wisdom in the comments.
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