College can be a culture shock for a lot of freshmen. Moving to a new city, making all new friends and being on your own can be stressful and tough to navigate. Luckily, we’ve identified common mistakes in college that freshmen make and helpful tips and tricks to avoid them.
Blowing Off Syllabus Week
A common myth is that the first week of school, also known as syllabus week, is for skipping class to goof off and hang out with friends. This could not be more false. Syllabus week maybe a little less work-intensive than the rest of the semester. However, most classes still begin covering material right away. Plus, the information from the beginning of the class is just as likely to be on your exam as material from later in the semester.
Another common misconception is that the syllabus doesn’t contain important information. Or, that the syllabus can be read and completely understood outside of class. On the contrary, the syllabus contains imperative information regarding grading, big assignments, and the class schedule. A lot of the time, the assignments are better explained in class (which can lead to earning a better grade). Sometimes, professors will even reward you for reading the syllabus and coming to class by giving out secret extra credit opportunities.
Buying All of Your Books Before Classes Begin
Wait to buy your books until after attending the first day of class. It can save you a lot of money. In many instances, the professor will either straight up tell you or at least imply that the book is not necessary for the course. Sometimes books are listed on the syllabus for departmental reasons or as a supplement. If you buy all of your materials before classes begin, you may find yourself spending hundreds of dollars on books you’ll never use.
Struggling to Find a Balance
One of the biggest challenges college freshmen face is finding a balance between their academic and social life. Many first-year students seem to fall at one end of the spectrum or the other. They either study all day every day or go out every night. It can take a few months to realize the consequences of this imbalance. Either extreme will eventually catch up with you. If you study constantly, you’ll wear yourself out very quickly. If you spend all of your time just hanging out and never studying, your grades will slip and you could even be placed on academic probation. A helpful tip is to use a planner to get your necessary assignments done. Don’t forget to also pencil in downtime to let loose and have fun.
Clinging to High School Friends
Making new friends can be very hard, especially for those who are more introverted or who have had the same friends for years. If you end up going to college with a lot of people from high school, it’s easier and more comfortable to continue hanging out with the same crowd. While it’s great to keep your old friends, don’t be afraid to make new ones! Make an effort to pursue your own interests and activities outside of your high school friend group! Introduce yourself to new people. College campuses attract such a diverse population. It would be a shame to miss out on meeting so many interesting people. Also, don’t be afraid to introduce your new friends to your old ones! Chances are if you like someone, your friends will like them too.
Not Taking Advantage of Office Hours
It can be intimidating to talk one on one with your professors, especially if you’re used to knowing all of your teachers. I promise, they do not bite and most of them are very nice and excited to meet you. If you’re nervous, feel free to take a friend with you or someone else in the class. You’ll likely find the meeting to be beneficial and discover that it’s the fastest and clearest way to get all of your questions answered in one shot. Plus, getting to know your professors also opens the door for future letter of recommendation opportunities.
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