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The Worst Mistakes You Can Make This Semester

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The New Year is almost here and the new semester will be starting shortly. Going back to work or school after a long weekend is tough enough for most people; returning after a month or more away can be quite a big adjustment.

Even though you’re well aware that classes are back in session, your internal clock still thinks it’s still vacation time. Remind yourself now that the following scenarios could occur, you’ll help yourself avoid the worst mistakes you can make this semester!

Skipping classes.

A lot of students have convinced themselves that showing up for class on the first day isn’t important. A lot of others have convinced themselves that skipping classes throughout the semester isn’t a big deal, either, especially if classes are so large the professor or teaching assistant doesn’t take attendance. The truth is, unless you’re sick or in the midst of a true emergency, you should go to all of your classes. You could miss an important lecture, handout, due date change, or even a pop quiz.


Many students underestimate the amount of time a project or paper will take to finish, which means that waiting until the last minute doesn’t leave enough time. Others believe that they “work best under pressure” and don’t start anything in advance. While it’s true that you might manage to pull things off even though you procrastinate most of the time, sooner or later you won’t. Procrastinating can cause intense feelings of stress and anxiety that you could have avoided by giving yourself enough time, and rushing to do something usually means it’s sloppy and half-hearted—which could affect your grade.

Skipping optional things.

Some professors schedule optional study sessions outside of normal class time. Many also recommend optional reading material or lectures and events that aren’t required by the class syllabus, but would greatly benefit students. Far too many students only do the bare minimum and wind up barely scraping by. If you have time available, check out “optional” events and at least look over recommended reading. You could pick up something extra that might come in handy on an exam, not to mention you’ll look good in the eyes of your professor.

Not asking for help.

Always remember—if something is confusing you, it’s most likely confusing other people! Contrary to popular belief, professors really do want their students to do well. There’s no shame in raising your hand during class to ask questions or popping in during office hours to get some extra help. The campus tutoring center is there for a reason, too. Don’t ever be embarrassed to admit you need help!


From classes and clubs to part-time jobs and partying on the weekends, college can be a total whirlwind of activity. Many students are so determined to take advantage of all that their school has to offer, they sign up for absolutely everything offered—on top of registering for 15 or 18 credit hours—and have an active social life. Resist the urge to do everything. Burning the candle at both ends will come back to haunt you.

Giving up too easily.

One of the worst mistakes that many students make is giving up entirely after they fail a test or get a less than spectacular grade on a paper or project. Just as people who overeat at breakfast and lunch decide to eat everything in sight for the rest of the day because they “already blew their diet,” not caring about a class after getting a bad grade early in the semester isn’t a good idea. Always remember, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

There’s no denying that it can be stressful, but college is supposed to be one of the best times of your life. Watch out for these common pitfalls and catch yourself before you make the worst mistakes possible!

Read more:

To-Do List: 10 Things to Accomplish Before the Spring 2013 Semester

Dorm Survivor: A Handful of Tips for Thriving in a Residence Hall

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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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