For many people, freshman year of college is pretty much the year of the most regrets, and it’s easy to see why. You’re on a new campus surrounded by new people; there’s so much pressure to be as well-rounded as possible and make good on the “best four years of your life”; and you realize that cranky high school teachers don’t compare to college professors who clearly think that their class is the only class you take.
There are a ton of ups and downs (that definitely are NOT exclusive to freshman year, too) but college is what you make of it, and you have to be willing to try, and yada, yada, yada. Do yourself a favor and check out these 21 things to avoid doing at all costs so you can bypass some major college mistakes.
1. Holing up in your room all day.
I’m definitely guilty of having done this from time to time. Trust me, even if you’ve just created the coziest dorm room in the world, locking yourself in there isn’t always as fun as wandering around campus and seeing who you can meet. The social scene in college can be a little stressful if you’re shy about putting yourself out there, and I was so nervous about it that I refused to go to events or extracurriculars alone, which often led to me not going at all if none of my friends wanted to attend. Get out of your comfort zone and give it a shot!
2. Only sticking to one group of friends.
Honestly, a lot of times your first semester friend group won’t even make it with you to Spring Break. Don’t be surprised if the friends you meet during the first month aren’t still your friends by next semester. Sometimes there’s just a natural drift. That’s why you shouldn’t only latch onto one group. Go to events and mingle to meet new people. Talk to the cool people in class.
3. Late night snacking on junk food.
I know the freedom of not having your parents around to yell at you when you dive into the fridge at 12a.m. can be so empowering, but don’t go crazy with the unhealthy treats in your campus dining hall — and trust me, there are A LOT of them! Too much junk food can lead to unhealthy habits and wasted meal points, which are super valuable and should be treated like gold in college.
4. Not getting to know your RA.
RA’s are the ultimate peer resource because while they have some authority in your residence hall and on campus, they’re students just like you. Stop by their rooms to chat for a few minutes a couple of times during the week. Add them on Facebook and say hi. You never know what opportunities they can help you out with.
5. Not getting to know the people in your hall.
It is entirely possible to get to know everyone who lives in your hall, you just have to put in a little effort. You never know what new friendships you can form, plus getting along with the people in your building can make your semester a whole lot more enjoyable. Go to building meetings and say hi to the people there. Socialize during RA events in the building. Even knock on your neighbor’s door just to say hey.
6. Starting a dorm room fire.
Unfortunately, some people bring items that are prohibited on campus, and accidentally start fires. There are judicial consequences for this, not to mention the fact that everyone in your building will hate you for reducing their belongings to ashes. Also, whatever you do, DO NOT push the popcorn button on the microwave when making popcorn! You WILL set off the fire alarm.
7. Partying a little too much.
Social party life is a huge part of almost any college you attend — even if your college isn’t on every list of major party schools. It’s nice to get dressed up and go out and have a good time, but you don’t have to go out every week. Plus, partying is expensive, so there’s that.
8. Skipping class because it’s “boring.”
I get that not everyone can appreciate the same topics being taught as one another because of different interests, but at least try to make the effort to attend. You’re hurting yourself by attending class a total of two times for the semester because come finals week, you won’t have any idea what to study for. But if you want to learn the right way to cut class, check out my Ultimate Guide To Skipping Class Like A Pro.
9. Sticking to a major you don’t love.
It hurts my heart when someone tells me they don’t love their major but don’t want to go through having to change it. I was in that very same boat from freshman year to sophomore year. I changed my major around six times until I finally settled on Journalism and Digital Arts. Get out of a major you despise early so you don’t feel like you’re behind. And don’t worry about what other people will think of you for changing it — you’re the one getting the degree and it should be something you love.
10. Losing your student ID or room key.
Your student ID is one of the most valuable possessions a student can have. On my campus, it’s how we get into our residence halls, pay for meals, get into free events, and even get discounts on purchases. As for your room key, losing it could mean having to pay hundreds of dollars to have it replaced. Be extra careful with them! Get a lanyard for your key and get a wallet case for your phone to store your ID (just don’t forget your phone!)
This is obvious for SO many reasons. If you got away with copying and pasting from Wikipedia when you were in high school, you certainly won’t get away with it in college. Professors have assignments submitted online so they can use software to search for instances of plagiarism. If you do cheat, you will be caught and the consequences will be severe.
12. Keeping fake friends.
You deserve friends who are as true and genuine as you are. Fake friends will only bring drama and agitation, and honestly you will NOT have time to babysit hurt feelings and gossip. Cut them off and move on.
13. Conflicts with your roommate.
It’s not a good idea to fight with the person who could potentially pour hair removal cream in your shampoo while you sleep. Getting along with your roommate will help your semester run so much more smoothly. Living with a stranger can be stressful, and getting along is sometimes easier said than done, but be welcoming and courteous, and also check out my post on things to do before you meet your new roommate to help you!
14. Not getting help if you need it.
Leave your ego in high school; there’s nothing wrong with not understanding the class material. And in college, there are so many resources to help you succeed no matter what your situation is. Letting your stubbornness take over can earn you a one-way ticket to failing the class.
15. Not taking a class you’re interested in.
If you have time in your schedule, take a class just for fun! Ever been curious about philosophy? Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn Greek. Is there a wine tasting class you’re dying to take (I wish!) Make it your mission to not graduate without having taken the one class you’ve always wanted to take.
16. Not considering study abroad or exchange programs.
Before junior year, I didn’t think studying abroad was an option for me. I had never traveled anywhere and didn’t really have a desire to. But then I got curious about seeing other parts of the world, and decided that this would be the year I did. My only regret is not studying abroad sooner! It’s honestly life-changing and you make so many memories and learn so many new things that actually stick with you because it’s like a hands-on experience times a hundred. Check out my posts on things to consider before you go abroad, and my post on how to be money smart while traveling.
17. Buying items not allowed in your dorm room.
Not only can you potentially start a fire in your room if the item is a fire hazard, but it’s simply just a waste of money to buy things you can’t even keep with you. There are also some items that are just plain unnecessary (like those wretched bed risers!!!) Do yourself a favor and check in with your campus housing office before you buy something you may not be allowed to have.
18. Overpacking for college.
Try to limit yourself to necessities when you move in because first, it makes things easier, and, second, over the course of the semester you’ll accumulate even more stuff in your room and you don’t want to drown in too much clothing and too many pairs of shoes.
19. Not checking in with your career center.
It’s actually never too late to start thinking about ways to get into the field you want to work in after graduation. Career centers can help you with pretty much all of your professional needs — resumes, cover letters, business cards, interview skills, what to wear, where to apply, how to accept or reject an offer — you name it. Pop in at some point your freshman year to at least get acquainted with the resources so you know what’s there when you need it.
20. Going home too often.
Missing your family is real, but you also don’t allow yourself to experience other aspects of campus life when you go home literally every weekend. Everyone is awkward/shy/energetic/excited-to-try-new-things freshman year, so you’re not the only one feeling antsy. Compromise and go home every other weekend in the beginning and see if that suits you.
21. Not getting involved on campus.
There are too many things going on in college for you to not be interested in something. Join a club or Greek organization; get an on-campus job; run for a residence hall council position; join an intramural sports team. It’s a great way to build your resume as a freshman, and you’ll make new friends. Also, don’t be afraid to let yourself try new things. This is probably one of the biggest college mistakes ever. You don’t have to try something that could put your life in danger, but every time you find yourself asking why, always ask why not.
Do you have any cool/crazy/funny stories from freshman year? Share them below!