Top 5 Mistakes College Freshmen Make
People often assume that those who do well in college are the most naturally talented and intelligent among us. The reality is that those who succeed in college are the ones who figure out its systems, put in the hard work, and ask for help. More on this here.
Most of the common mistakes people make during the college experience can be easily avoided with some simple strategies, tools, and resources.
The mistakes that most students make usually come from several different factors pilling on at the same time. Stress, confusion, overwhelm can each emerge because so many aspects of the student experience are shifting and changing rapidly and simultaneously.
Making friends, learning, adulting, and selecting a path all while your brain is literally developing its capacity to plan and make decisions can derail even the most organized and studious person.
The first step to avoiding and overcoming a mistake is to identify it. Quickly followed by allowing yourself to learn from it.
Here are the most common mistakes that most students can easily avoid if they're paying careful attention.
Top 5 Mistakes Freshman Make
1. Prioritizing Friends Above All Else
Friends are super important. You should have healthy, nurturing relationships during college But you want friends that nurture and support the real you.
The mistake I students make is sacrificing who they are and what they need for acceptance. They allow FOMO (fear of missing out) and fear around social rejection to run the show. I see so many students feel pressure to fit in. By the way, this is totally developmentally appropriate, but awareness of the issue empowers you to select friends that like YOU.
True friends will support you. They will understand that you need to take care of your business. Real friends will honor your sleep, honor your health, and honor you need to get your work done well.
2. Not Sticking to a Schedule
I often see students bail on their best intentions to get some work done the moment a fun offer pops up. (See mistake one.) I'm not saying you shouldn't have spontaneity and fun in your life. You need a little shenanigans in your life.
What I am saying is...You should create a schedule that allows you to get your work done and have unstructured time for fun and stick to it! This simple habit will give you the flexibility to actually have fun with your friends, produce high quality work and reduce stress.
3. Focusing on Grades Instead of Learning
This might sound counterintuitive, but I find that when students over focus on their grades their grades suffer. The either 1. freak themselves out. 2. learn nothing because they are focusing on outcomes instead of process or 3. all of the above.
If you focus on taking the time to actually engage and learn material your grades will reflect that work. In my experience, students who focus on learning rather than grades perform way better and have a lot more fun.
4. Freaking Out
Stress is totally normal. I talk about this extensively in episode, #27 5 Ways to De-Stress During Finals. The goal is not to eliminate stress, but to keep it at a healthy level.
The mistake I see is an abundance of unnecessary stress and anxiety born from poor time management, unhealthy habits, and limiting beliefs and mindsets. These folks do work at the last minute, compare themselves to others, cycle negative thoughts through their mind, and beat themselves up over minor mistakes.
Each of these habits can contribute to feeling overwhelmed, underprepared, and bummed out during college. Creating space, treating yourself with love and compassion, and taking your time can create a much more enjoyable experience.
5. Choosing a Major Because it Leads to a "Lucrative" Job
Figuring out your life is one of the most challenging aspects of college. Many students feel great pressure to make the perfect choice when it comes to their major. They fear making one wrong move means they'll be unemployed and living at home after graduation.
The mistake I see is the impulse to choose a major based on someone else's experiences or opinions. This is a Giant mistake, because you are not that person.
You have different experience, talents, interests, skills, connections, and education than that person. Plus, following their footsteps means you are recreating someone else's life rather than creating your own. It is much better to select a major based on your own passions, interests, and talents than based on current job projections or others thoughts, ideas, and opinions.
I cover more on this in episode #10 5 Things to Do Before Changing Your Major.
Remember you have the power to create an amazing college experience. To help you get started we've created a FREE guide filled with 25 concrete strategies to help you overcome these common mistakes. Plus, we've hosting a FREE 5-Day Challenge to support you through the start of your semester. You'll find the download and link to join the challenge below.
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Avoid the Top Mistakes College Students Make
We've created a FREE College Starter Kit to help you navigate your way through these common mishaps. It's filled with 25 of my favorite strategies for finding your people, boosting your productivity, improving your grades, maintaining healthy levels of stress, and finding a major that aligns with your personality and interests.