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Three Classic Mistakes Students Make During Their First Academic Year

by Elise Wile, studioD

Any time a person takes a step into the unknown, there are likely to be mistakes. Such is the case with college students. Knowing what mistakes others have made, however, can help college freshmen know what pitfalls to avoid. That way, the mistakes they make will be original, rather than well-worn treads on the road to a degree.

Underestimating College

Students who performed well in high school sometimes approach college in an overly confident manner. Unfortunately, as most soon discover, college courses require much more time and effort than high school courses. Students who easily passed classes by cramming the night before an exam are likely to experience failure in the college environment if they do not change their study habits to adapt to learning more complex material in a demanding setting. Freshmen should plan to spend as much time studying for a class each day as they do listening to a lecture.

Over- or Under-Socializing

For many students, college is the first time they've had an opportunity to live life on their own terms. No longer are parents insisting on a respectable bedtime or restricting activities during the school week. Many freshmen make the mistake of spending too much time partying and hanging out with friends and not enough time studying or getting enough sleep. Even becoming too involved with school-sponsored organizations can be a stumbling block to a student who is struggling to balance his new responsibilities. Some students go to the opposite extreme, however, which causes them to feel disconnected and lonely. Finding the right balance is crucial to academic and social success.

Not Asking for Assistance

It's not unusual to find students in a professor's office after they've flunked an exam. Before the exam, however, a professor's office is often empty. Freshmen often make the mistake of talking to a professor only once they're in hot water, rather than spending a few minutes talking to her so that they can understand a difficult concept or get some guidance on a research paper. To overcome this problem, it is helpful for students to remember that tuition dollars pay for a professor's time both in class and in the office.

Other Common Mistakes

Other mistakes that freshmen often make include skipping classes, taking too heavy a load of coursework and procrastinating on assignments. Spending too much time on activities such as video games and social networking can also derail a successful college experience. So can putting off selecting an academic major -- a choice that can result in wasted coursework. Forgetting assignments due to a lack of organization is another classic mistake, as university professors do not make a practice of reminding students about upcoming assignments.

About the Author

Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.

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