College can either be a time to be alive, or it can be full of regrets. For me and many others, it was full of regrets. There are small things you may not think about in college that could actually make a huge difference in your experience. Either you don’t put yourself out there as much, or you don’t try hard enough in school, there are always things you wish you could do differently. In this article, we’ll go over the top 10 mistakes to avoid making in college to ensure you have the best time.
Read on to learn what you can do to avoid the same mistakes other students have made:
1. Not taking advantage of first-year
Everyone talks about the importance of freshman year, whether it’s important for making friends or creating good school habits. But it’s definitely easier said than done. Sometimes it can be daunting: being thrown headfirst into a new environment, scared you might sink instead of swim. And it’s easy to stay glued to the first people you meet and stay in the comfort of familiarity. But three years later, when those friendships don’t work out, or you watch others doing fun things you wish you could do, you’ll wish you went outside of your comfort zone.
“I wish I embraced my first year more and got more involved with more events and organizations because it’s a lot harder to do it in later years,” Brighton University third-year Jessie Romerlee said.
Most colleges have special events specifically for freshmen. It might seem scary to do things alone, but your future college self will thank you. Don’t miss out on events and organizations because of the fear of doing things by yourself. Organizations and clubs are some of the best ways to make friends in the first couple of weeks and to get more involved throughout your time at college. It’s also a great way to learn more about yourself and your interests. Some people come to college not knowing what they want to major in, and clubs and organizations are great ways to figure out what you’re interested in.
It’s the best feeling when you see you have weeks to do an assignment. You think to yourself, “That’s loads of time!” But what they don’t tell you is that if you’re given weeks for an assignment, it’s probably because it should take you weeks to do it. Sure, you could do it if you cram it in a couple of days. But that’s if you’re glued to your desk for hours on end. Now that doesn’t seem so fun, does it?
“It’s better to do bigger assignments as soon as possible rather than waiting. It just adds so much unnecessary stress,” Brighton University second-year Daisy Turv said.
I was someone who procrastinated so much in my first two years of college. Always saving assignments until the last day. In my junior year, I decided to get my life together and start doing assignments ahead of time. It was shocking how much better I felt. It might suck in the moment, but when you don’t have to pull all-nighters cramming for an exam or writing an essay, you’ll be glad you did it.
3. Not making connections
One of the biggest things you’ll hear going into college and throughout college is “Make connections.” And if you’re anything like me, that thought will go in one ear and out the other. Because doesn’t “connections” just come from natural friendships you make along the way? Wrong.
Something I wish I would have done in college is join organizations and clubs that are aligned with my major and interests. For example, if you’re a journalism major, try to join the school newspaper or journalism club. Most majors have clubs that will be super helpful to you in the future. Not just for the experience, but also for the people you can meet. Keep in touch with people you meet in your classes, and try to meet as many similar-minded people as possible. I’m going to graduate with pretty much no connections from college, and I’ll be paying the price when looking for a job. You don’t always need to be thinking about connections, but it’s a good thing to keep in the back of your mind.
4. Not pursuing interests
Coming to college, a lot of students don’t know what they want to do with their lives. They don’t know what to major in or what they’re passionate about. But, there are also a lot of students who do know and who might have known for years. They come to college with set goals for themselves and a set path, not looking to stray away from it. But sometimes, another career path or interest may call your name, and instead of shying away from it, you might want to give it a try.
“I noticed my passion might not be in the medical field but never really invested in my creative passions until this year,” Amsterdam University senior Elin Willenborg said.
College is all about exploring. It’s about finding yourself and figuring out what you want to do in life. Just because you decided on the first day of freshman year that you wanted to be a doctor doesn’t mean you have to stick it out if it’s not what you want to do anymore. Sometimes, our college classes can take up loads of time, and it’s hard to find time for other interests we may have. But try to find the time. It’s really easy to pursue other interests in college with the accessibility that comes with clubs and class selection. If you see something that sparks your interest, invest some time into it. Because, who knows, it might just be your calling.
5. Not going to class
Every college student is guilty of skipping a class or two. It happens. But there are some times when we just decide a class isn’t worth showing up for, especially if they post the lecture slides on Canvas. I’m guilty of not going to a lot of my classes, and it’s something I regret now that I’m a senior. In some classes, I think I could have done better if I just showed up. And even if they have the lecture slides online, if you just go to class, you can listen to the lecture and take in the information rather than study and review it at home. And by going to class you can meet a lot of people who could end up being lifelong friends.
6. Working too hard
You’re probably confused as to how working too hard could possibly be a college regret. Well, I can tell you from first-hand experience, it is. A common experience in college is constantly thinking about the future. What job we end up with or what our GPA will be. And while all of that is important, it’s also important to live in the moment.
In my junior year, I worked the hardest I had ever worked. I had two internships, a D1 athletics position, and a full class load. And while it was helpful for my future, I had no life. College is great for internships and for propelling ourselves forward, but it’s also a great place to have fun. And sometimes, you just need to have fun once in a while. College is only four years, and while it may seem like a lot, it goes by in the blink of an eye. Don’t forget to live a little.
7. Not thinking of yourself enough
We’ve all had those friends that we question why we are even friends with them. Or those times we don’t want to go out but then get peer pressured into it and then you have a miserable time and wish you stayed home. Yeah, those situations suck. But you don’t have to get yourself into them. You can choose yourself.
Sometimes it feels selfish to say no to people or to step away from toxic friendships, but it’s not. It’s putting yourself first. I spent most of my time in college in friendships I didn’t like and not doing the things I wanted. And once I stepped away from those friendships and chose myself, I was so much happier.
8. Not being active
The gym: my worst enemy. As a D1 athlete I still proudly say I hate the gym. It can be overcrowded and when you don’t know how to work the machines, it can be embarrassing. For my first 3 years of college, I practiced my sport every single day of the week, so I didn’t have to technically use the gym. I was waking up early, staying in shape
, and feeling good about myself.
Now I’m studying abroad and no longer doing my sport. The difference in my physical and mental health is shocking. I didn’t realize how big of a difference not being active makes to your life. I find myself waking up late, out of routine, out of shape, and overall sluggish. Safe to say I’ll be heading to the gym from now on. And you don’t even have to go to the gym to stay active. Going on walks or jogs during the day will do it. Just remember to move and stay active.
9. Not participating in orientation
Freshman orientation: something we look forward to until we’re actually there, and then it’s just awkward. You don’t know a single person, and suddenly, you’re bunched with a group of people. Are you supposed to talk to someone first? Do they come up to you first? It can be stressful.
“I would have made more effort to reach out to other students during orientation. I didn’t make friends until the 3rd week because I didn’t really put myself out there during the first week,” Northeastern sophomore Chloe Lee said.
The best thing to do is not to wait for someone to come up to you. You make the first move. The first interaction may be awkward, but it’s not the end of the world. You have to remind yourself that everyone is in the same boat as you. Even if you don’t make best friends through orientation, it’ll give you some people to socialize and hang out with in the meantime.
10. Not talking to professors
I was that student who went to class, listened to the professor speak, and then just went home. I would see the occasional student go up after the class and talk to the professor, but it was never really something I wanted to do. Even if I had a question, I told myself I’d figure it out myself.
But one day in my environmental science class, we talked about something really interesting, which sparked my interest. After class, I decided to go up to the professor and speak to him about the content. It was the best decision I ever made. Not only did I learn a lot, but he gave me insight into a potential career path I was considering.
Professors might seem intimidating, but they love talking to students. And there’s so much you can learn from them. Don’t waste the opportunity.