Newswise — Every year, many college freshmen fall victim to poor study habits, an overabundance of socializing or other poor choices that derail their higher education. Deborah Spinney, executive director for student development at the University of Indianapolis, has identified the 10 most common of these mistakes, and offers advice for staying on course:
10 Mistakes Freshmen Make
1. Assuming College Is an Extension of High School. Many students aren't prepared for the quantity and complexity of college work, and rely on their high school study habits to get by. A good rule of thumb: spend the same amount of time studying for a course each day as you spend in that class. If you need help with study skills, seek help from your university's academic support office right away. Don't wait until you're mired in midterms.
2. Saving Money by Not Buying the Books. Don't be penny wise and pound foolish; get the books right away and stay on top of your reading and related assignments. There are many bargains to be had, either in your own bookstore, from classmates who've had the class before, or over the Internet.
3. Being Overly Ambitious. A heavy course load in high school may have been manageable, but it could overwhelm you in college. Set yourself up for success by taking 12 to 14 hours your first semester, and giving yourself time to acclimate.
4. Ignoring E-mails. As technology-connected as students are, the truth is that too many don't read their E-mail regularly. They miss important messages from professors and other announcements that could make their life easier. Remember that parking ticket you got? Chances are you didn't see the message about the temporary parking ban.
5. Working Too Hard. We're talking about paid jobs here. As important as they are, if they demand too much time away from your studies, you need to reevaluate. For undergraduates, especially first-year students, working more than 20 hours a week while maintaining a full course load is a recipe for D-saster.
6. Looking for Help in all the Wrong Places. Universities offer a wealth of resources for the struggling student—from the professor who keeps office hours (as they all do) to math and writing labs, tutors, and workshops on a variety of topics such as study skills. You won't be the first student who needs help; that's why these supports are in place.
7. Thinking the Professor is God. Their teaching may be divine, but professors really are quite down-to-earth and generally reasonable in dealing with students. But it's a two-way street. They expect you to let them know when you have to miss a session (be sure it's unavoidable), come to class prepared, and participate in discussions " in short, go the extra mile for maximum return on your education.
8. Over-socializing. If you're thinking about parties more than your assignments, your new-found independence may be getting out of hand. Remember: With independence comes responsibility. Don't jeopardize your long-term goals for short-lived pleasures.
9. Under-socializing. Just as there's such as thing as too much social time, the other extreme is not wise, either. You're missing out on the complete college experience if you are isolating yourself from campus life. There's an activity for everyone, so get out there and get involved in something. Clubs and volunteer service projects are a great way to connect with others who have similar interests.
10. Choosing the wrong career. Many students don't know what they want to do when they enter college, and there's nothing wrong with figuring that out once you get there. However, many declare a major with nary a thought to whether it's the proper fit for them in terms of their academic preparation or strengths, and proceed to waste considerable time and money before discovering the mismatch. Your campus career office is a good place to start. It should have resources and tests that can help you narrow the options.