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10 Most Common College Freshman Mistakes

College is a culture shock for most freshmen, especially if you’re attending school out-of-state. Mistakes happen when making the transition. There’s no problem with making mistakes, but avoiding them is always better. To make the transition easier for you, pay attention to these 10 common college freshman mistakes before making the move.

Getting used to college after high school takes a minute for virtually every freshman. Mistakes happen. Avoid a lot of them by watching out for these common college freshman mistakes.

Another way to avoid many of these mistakes is knowing which questions to ask your college counselor before applying to schools.


college freshman mistakes

Skipping Classes

It’s easy to start missing classes if you’re unfocused.

Because you’re now responsible for your own schedule, many college students will spend freshman year skipping classes unnecessarily due to partying or avoiding alarms. Don’t make this mistake.

Arrange your schedule around times that you can commit to without excuses. You’ll get the most out of the experience and reduce the risk of missing key information for exams.

Poor Time Management Skills

Procrastination isn’t your friend.

If waiting until the last second is a habit, learn to break it in college fast. Too many freshmen don’t break it and allow their poor planning and time management to miss key assignments.

Not only do you risk a low grade, but procrastinating over papers or studying can cause acute physical stress when playing catch up. Plan major assignments out in advance within your calendar.

Not Connecting With Faculty

You have to take the initiative when interacting with professors.

Remember that college professors spend as much time, if not more, working on research. They only have so much time available per week to answer your questions.

Don’t expect them to reach out if you’re having problems understanding course materials. Instead, visit them during office hours and ask what you need clarity on.

Not Budgeting Your Money

Students often don’t understand how budgets work…until they come up short.

Besides tuition, there are other costs you have to worry about:

  • Food
  • Books
  • Transportation

If you don’t have a clear sense of budgeting, then it’s very easy to overspend on unnecessary things, such as eating out too often or partying incessantly.

When school payments and other bills then present themselves, you won’t have enough money set aside to cover them. Thankfully, many schools have financial literacy programs available for freshmen to avoid this common problem.

Abusing Credit Cards

It’s easy to get yourself into credit card debt during freshman year.

Many credit card companies count on college freshmen to max out their cards early on. Why? Because it’s the first time you’re receiving a credit line.

It’s easy to think that you’re getting something for nothing. Students then overspend, max out their limits, and are faced with paying that debt down with interest.

A good way to avoid this trap is with secured credit cards. You essentially back your own credit line with the cash you put up, and then pay it back as used. The benefit here is you can build up a positive credit history pretty easily without running into debt.

Poorly Developed Study Skills

College courses require more effort to learn and retain information.

Lazy students often have a rough go during freshman year. Why? Because they don’t have the study skills to handle higher volumes of reading and memorization. Spend the time before graduation to work on your in-class note-taking and critical reading skills.

These tools are invaluable when reading hundreds of pages across multiple classes per semester. Not only that but often you will be tested on material not covered in class but in the readings alone.

No Emergency Fund

Don’t let an unexpected emergency wipe out your funds.

Accidents and emergencies happen to everyone. Whether it’s a car accident, illness, equipment crash, etc., chances are good that you’ll be hit with an event that will cost you a lot out of pocket.

The best thing to do to counter these situations is to have an emergency money fund saved to help offset costs. College freshmen, especially if they’re not budgeting correctly, are often hit hard by emergencies that suck up saved money and valuable class time.

Consider starting a fund during your senior year to set aside a certain amount of cash to pull from if disaster strikes.

Missing Financial Aid Deadlines

Remember that financial aid requires your constant attention.

No one says that applying for financial aid is easy or fun. As a result, it’s common for college freshmen to procrastinate with filling out the necessary paperwork to keep receiving it.

Unfortunately, deadlines are then missed and the money needed to keep tuition and other bills paid doesn’t arrive.

That’s why it’s important to plot out all the important deadlines into your calendar, set up constant reminders, and seek out assistance from counselors on campus, to make sure everything is ready on time.

Skipping Sleep

Don’t give in to the temptation to party a lot.

Setting your own sleep schedule is new for many freshmen, and quite often, many lose out on adequate rest by not taking it seriously. Staying up too late or not studying at earlier times wreaks havoc on your body and mental state.

That’s why you should work hard to maintain a regular sleep schedule, and organize your classes, studying, and work around it.

Ignoring Your Mental Health

Don’t let new pressures and anxiety break down your mental well-being.

Many students struggle with mental health issues in college. Common causes include:

  • Class pressures
  • Managing finances effectively
  • Building new relationships
  • Balancing studies and work

Many freshmen simply avoid dealing with these pressures, which often leads to substance abuse, eating disorders, depression, etc. If you feel yourself struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to on-campus counseling programs or resident advisors for help.

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Todd Marcus

Written by Todd Marcus

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