New situations are always tough — and college seems to be full of them. Between more challenging classes and new faces around every corner, it’s natural to feel a little nervous when heading off to school — but you can save yourself a lot of unnecessary stress if you can steer clear of these five easily-avoidable mistakes:
1. Assuming you can get by without doing the readings.
Maybe it’s just the English major in me talking, but I am a firm believer that doing the readings before class sets you up with a great foundation for learning the material. Sure, you can get by without them, and maybe even get a B or C average, but actually reading the textbook and (gasp!) taking notes about what you’re learning before the lecture will be just what you need to get that A+. When you do the readings, it’s impossible to come to class with no idea what the professor is talking about, and you might even get on their good side by asking questions before they go over the material in lecture. It’s a simple way to get a good grade — just allot yourself the time to get a little assigned reading done before each class, and you’ll be good to go.
2. Hooking up with the first person that sparks your interest.
Everyone thinks they’re going to meet their soul mate in college, and while that may be true for you, it’s probably not going to be the first cute guy or gal that you see roaming the residence hall. Mixing excitement with anxiety can mean a lot of rash and not so well-thought-out decisions if you aren’t careful — so be wary of who you’re hooking up with before you jump right in. And remember: even if they say they’re on birth control or that they don’t have an STD, it’s always a good idea to keep yourself protected.
3. Taking on more than you can handle.
There are so many new clubs and activities on college campuses, many of which may not have been present at your high school, so it’s natural to want to try everything — but remember that each activity you choose to take part in has its own time commitments, and you really aren’t going to be able to do everything. Remember, you have to balance social life, clubs, classes, and maybe even a job, all in just 24 hours each day. Feel free to try as many things as you want, but be sure you’re only committing to what you know you can handle, especially in your first semester.
4. Only taking classes/joining clubs in your major.
A lot of students going into college are so glad they finally don’t have to take math or English anymore — they can just focus on what really interests them. But even if you’re a music major, you don’t have to completely say goodbye to every other subject or activity on campus. Don’t isolate yourself from the school newspaper or intramural sports just because it’s not your major field. Meeting new people and having a good time is what college is all about, so take a risk and try it. Who knows? You may even find you have a different passion that you love even more.
5. Not branching out.
Being in college means a lot more freedom, and sometimes that can be scary — but that doesn’t mean you need to hold on tight to your old life back home. Maybe it’s time to take a break from your old high school friends and meet new people, and try new things. Branch out from what you did back home or in high school — there’s nothing to be lost in trying something new! (That said, don’t forget to call your mom at least once per week. For her sake if nothing else.)
Freshman year can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. If you let yourself open up to all the new opportunities and adventures (and keep up with your studies), you’re going to be in for great undergrad years.
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