Get It Right: Pitfalls To Avoid Your First Year Of College
Your first year of college is an experience you’ll never forget. Make sure it’s unforgettable for the right reasons! With so much new responsibility and freedom, it can be tempting to go down the wrong roads quickly. Here are a few pitfalls to avoid so that you don’t spend your next few years trying to make up for all those first year follies.
You are a real adult in college, at least that what your professor’s will tell you. No one is going to wake you up and make you attend class. Although it’s tempting your first year to skip class and hang out at lunch or recover from a hangover, going to class is a simple way to build relationships with your professors and make sure you are truly grasping the material. You’ll regret skipping so many classes when mid terms roll around and you are trying to cram weeks of material into a few days.
Your GPA is an average of all your grades throughout the years. The more grades you have, the harder it is to make your GPA go up or down. Take advantage your first year and really hit it out the park. The higher your GPA is your first year, the better your chances of maintaining a pretty decent GPA throughout the rest of your time. It’s much harder to move a GPA up as you go on so it’s best to start as high as possible.
Not staying on top of paperwork
Now that you are an adult, the college isn’t calling your parents when you forget to turn something in on time. Financial aid, housing applications, registering for classes, and a host of other important and crucial documents are now your responsibility. Set a reminder in your phone or write important deadlines on a dry erase board. You don’t want to find yourself without financial aid or getting kicked out of the dorm because you didn’t turn in your paperwork on time.
Partying like a rockstar
College is fun. Your first year can be a great party experience. However, you didn’t come to college to party. There are consequences (lack of sleep, hangovers, etc) that can seriously impact your academic performance. The key word here is balance. Skipping the party to study for a test may not be the popular thing to do but at the end of the day you have to remember why you went to college in the first place. You can’t write “twerker of the decade” on your resume so stay focused!
Not using your resources
College is packed full of resources. You don’t have to figure it out on your own. Chances are your college has a tutoring center, a career center, academic advisors, financial aid counselors, and even mentors. Not taking advantage of the resources available to you can result in some damaging and costly mistakes. There’s a lot to do and learn your first year, take a day or two to visit each of the resource offices on your campus and see how you can utilize their services. You may find out about new scholarships, get help with that tough paper, or even find a mentor to guide you through the next few years.
Relationships in college are on a whole new level. You’ve got the freedom to pretty much play house if you wanted to with your new boo. However, during your first year, a relationship can be a distraction. Enjoy your first year of freedom getting to know different people and discovering yourself. There will be plenty of time to fall in love next year when you know the ropes a bit more.
The wrong friends
Chances are you will meet new friends within 5 minutes of arriving on campus. That’s awesome! But remember everyone who smiles at you isn’t really your friend. Surrounding yourself with the right people is crucial to a successful college career. If all of your new friends are flunking out, partying every night, or being tramps, the likelihood of your following in their footsteps is high. Your peer group can determine if you are a smashing success of a first year flunky. Choose wisely and don’t be afraid to break some ties if you find that the friends you made are counterproductive to the success you want to have.
Stretching yourself too thin
College has so many opportunities to get involved either in fraternities/sororities, special interest clubs, athletics, art, and more. However, you are balancing a lot already with this new level of academics, social pressure and personal responsibility. Find one or two extracurricular activities to enjoy or even volunteer. It’s good to have a life outside of class and friends so joining one or two extracurricular activities in good. Just make sure you aren’t over extending yourself too much. Being involved in too many activities can hurt you academically or take away from the proper rest you need to maintain adequate self-care. The key word again is balance. Having one or two activities is a great way to make new friends, just be sure it’s not causing you more stress than good.
Not taking care of self
It’s hard when you realize that your family isn’t around anymore to remind you to take vitamins or to take a nap when you are stressed. A huge first year pitfall is a lack of self-care. Visit your campus health center and get an STD test, a physical, or get those flu like symptoms checked out. When the stress becomes too much, find a local church and/or a mental health professional. Avoid falling ill and or a mini breakdown by making self-care a priority.
Do you have any other pitfalls that someone should avoid during the first year of college? Share in the comments!
Dee Rene is the writer and creator of Laugh.Cry.Cuss. , a faith based blog that finds valuable lessons in pop culture and every day life. She is based in NYC. You can follow her or the blog or on twitter @deerene_lcc @laughcrycuss.