Top Freshmen Mistakes and Tips to Avoid Them

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College can be an exciting opportunity to get fantastic new experiences during the first year. But if you’re unprepared, these unexpected experiences might have many challenges. Here are some common rookie mistakes and professional advice on how to correct them when something goes wrong.

Typical Freshman Mistakes

It is easy to get lost along the way for college freshmen who must adopt an entirely new approach to studying. You can make your transition from high school to college much easier by learning typical freshman mistakes to watch out for and how to avoid making them.

Mistake 1. Skipping too many classes

Imagine this: you slept through your 8 am lecture once again because you were studying till late the night before. But you skimmed the textbooks, so it’s okay, right? Oops! In college, poor attendance can have significant effects on your academic performance. Imagine leaving class on a day when the lecturer introduces a new subject, gives a quiz the following class, or assigns teams for a project with a due date the next week. It’s simple to get behind.


  • Think ahead.

Even though freshmen may not have much control over their timetables, Dr. Todd Lidh, provost and dean of faculty at Lees-McRae College, says that attendance is the single most important indicator of a student’s success in college. Planning will make it easier for students to be in class. You shouldn’t let essays and assignments sneak up on you and catch you off guard. Be prepared for classes by planning and knowing what time you need to get there.

  • Damage assessment.

You should withdraw from a class before the withdrawal date if it just doesn’t fit into your busy schedule. If you withdraw from a class before the deadline, it won’t show up on your record, and you won’t be charged for it.

If you withdraw from the class after that time, your records will report a “W” for withdrawal. Your grades won’t be affected, but you could have to cover some or all of the registration fee for the class.

Mistake 2. Not using enough resources

Now that you’re finally on your own, you’re excited to demonstrate your independence by handling things on your own. However, great responsibility comes with more stress.


  • Seek assistance.

It’s okay to feel embarrassed about asking for assistance, but remember that there are lots of professionals on college campuses who can help you to achieve your goals. Since they want to support their students, professors give them their office hours.

  • Find relevant sources.

Many resources are available on campus to assist students with almost anything, including their physical and emotional health, academic and career guidance, and IT support. All you have to do is know where to look. Visit your college’s website, join “welcome week” for new students, participate in a freshman seminar, or speak with an academic counselor.

Mistake 3. Not understanding credit levels

You rushed through your first two years since there were so many engaging classes to choose from, only to find out in your junior year that pretty much most of the subjects you took were lower-division and didn’t count for your graduation requirements. You now have one or two more semesters till graduation.


  • Learn about credit breakdowns.

Your general education and major credit requirements, as well as the proportion of each that must take upper- and lower-division courses, are typically outlined in college policies. Use class and major planning sheets to organize your timetable for the rest of your college years.

  • Join early compulsory classes.

Don’t wait until your college years are over to join a compulsory course. Courses with high demand can quickly fill up, leaving you with no chances.

Mistake 4. Taking too many classes

If you want to learn art theory, geology, and economics, you must realize you will be in over your head after 20 credits. What was once a thrilling intellectual quest has soon become a difficult balancing act with limited time for extracurriculars.


  • Get going.

To calculate the minimal number of credits students must take each semester to reach their graduation objective, they should consult with an academic counselor. Start there and add more credits in the subsequent semesters after you have an idea of the workload.

  • Withdraw early if necessary.

Keep in mind that withdrawing from a class before the withdrawal deadline is safer than failing it completely. Just bear in mind that this can impact your financial support, so being thoughtful about your plans is always best.

Mistake 5. Deciding on a major too soon

Since you can remember, you have always dreamed of becoming a lawyer. Therefore you immediately joined the pre-law program. You’re currently in your junior year and would much prefer to write novels than court filings.


  • Make your decision slowly.

In a 2016 assessment, the Education Advisory Board found that freshmen who committed to their major from the start had a somewhat lower chance of graduating. Most institutions allow students to wait until the end of their second year to choose their majors. Take advantage of this opportunity to explore many majors and classes before committing to one.

  • Never be afraid of change.

Contrary to popular belief, changing majors before the start of a junior year does not cause a delay in graduation, according to the report by the Education Advisory Board. And 25% of students who change after that still complete their degrees on time. Even if you do extend your academic career by one or two semesters, it will probably be better than taking a job you dislike.

  • Add a minor.

If a student decides to change their major after starting it, they can speak with an advisor to find out how to convert it to a minor. This will guarantee that your work and effort invested in that field of study won’t be in vain.

Mistakes in College Experience

Starting college is a wonderful thing. It’s fun everywhere and with everyone. So it’s simple to accept any invitation to a party, a night out, a play, or a movie. However, your best chance for long-term success will be lost if you don’t get enough rest, don’t study, or start spending foolishly.

Mistake 1. Neglecting your sleep

You work till the early hours of the night to fit in your studies between attending courses, working out, and going to parties. You can hardly get out of bed when it’s time to get ready for your first class of the day.

Lower GPAs, bad mood, increased chance of dropping courses, poor nutrition, including weight gain and immunologic weakness, an increase in mental health problems, as well as a higher risk of car crashes can all result from this.


  • Study sessions earlier than usual.

Setting aside time in the morning for assignments can save students from needing to stay up late and will also help them feel relaxed and ready for class the following day.

  • Take naps.

Take a quick rest in between classes, but not during them.

  • Join a sports team.

Students who routinely exercise and join sports teams can develop habits and sleep more easily at night.

Mistake 2. Staying in your room all day

You notice you haven’t left your room much since you’ve been so preoccupied with doing well in your classes. Once you go outside, melancholy sets in as you begin to feel cut off from your college friends.

Students who only concentrate on their studies could miss out on developing lasting friendships and are more likely to experience depression and isolation.


  • Join a club.

While not everyone will join a sorority or fraternity, first-year students should try to explore other on-campus social activities. You can meet people who share your interests by joining athletic or personal interest clubs.

  • Join a study group.

Working alone can slow down your thinking, the exact reverse of what college students were hoping to achieve from their intense study. Organizing study sessions with friends can be very helpful.

Mistake 3. Spending too much money

You find you’ve exceeded your annual budget after a term of dining out with new pals, loading up on books, and furnishing your room. Keep track of your finances your freshman year because financial mistakes made in college can follow you long after you graduate.


  • Use a budget app

Numerous apps—both free and paid—can assist students in managing their finances, identifying areas where they are making wasteful purchases, and even saving money.