Many college freshmen start their first year both excited and determined to do well. In order to achieve this, they do their best to avoid common sense pitfalls and traps. However, there are several less obvious mistakes that may surprise you.
1. Only Taking Classes Pertaining to Your Major
Some people start college determined to focus on a particular major. While knowing what you want to do with your life is a wonderful thing, be wary of getting too focused on just a narrow band of interests. College is an excellent time to explore new subjects and ideas that one may have never been exposed to. If you only take classes that pertain to your major, you will miss out on a tremendous opportunity to broaden your horizons and discover new interests. Most colleges give students a certain number of elective credits. Use these to try new things and meet new people. You might discover a side passion that you never knew you had.
2. Not Spreading Out the Workload
Certain college courses are generally considered to be much more difficult than others. A major mistake that new students make is trying to get all of the hard courses out of the way at once. This is never a good idea as it will stress you out and leave you with very little free time. It can also greatly damage a person’s GPA. While challenging yourself by taking difficult subjects is admirable, be sensible about it. There is no need to take the 4 hardest courses in one semester. Spread them out so that you are only taking a couple in each grading period. This will allow you to focus your energy on obtaining a sound understanding of each one and doing well on the exams leaving you with a better GPA and a more balanced schedule as you move forward.
3. The Danger of Study Groups
Now that you’ve successfully chosen your courses for the next semester, the real work begins. With exams and papers coming due, you find that it’s time to open the books and start studying in earnest. As exams roll around, you may start getting offers to join in study groups. While studying for your midterm with a group of friends might theoretically sound like a good idea, it will often devolve into you simply hanging out instead of working. There is also the danger of the group leech. This is the person who comes to the study session having done little prep work and relies on others to fill him or her in on the material. The key is to make sure you understand what kind of people you will be working with so that you only group with those who will increase your productivity.
4. The Caffeine Addiction
A schedule that has frenetic periods of activity often leads students to rely on some kind of boost. This is where caffeine comes in. While there is nothing wrong with the occasional energy boost, the problem is when you become dependent on it to function. Guzzling down five or six cans of energy drinks a day is not only unhealthy but also expensive. It also disrupts your sleep cycle leaving you unable to fall asleep when you need to. As a result, you are left even more tired when the caffeine wears of and the cycle repeats itself. Overuse can also result in a dependency where you need caffeine to function properly. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you are dependent on caffeine to do even basic work.
5. Giving Up After the First Month
College will likely be more challenging for you than high school. This is because for the first time in your life, you are surrounded by people who are as capable as you are academically. This leads to people getting midterm grades that are lower than they achieved in high school. For students who are used to getting good grades without too much effort, this is often a huge wakeup call. The key is to not get discouraged. For one, the grades on your midterm are likely not reflective of what your true grade will be after curving. Additionally, people have to realize that a B in college is generally seen as being better than a B in high school. Why? Because the courses are harder and more competitive. Instead of giving up, talk to your teacher, and adjust your study habits. Do not give up simply because things are harder than they use to be. Push forward and persevere.
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