14 Mistakes Every College Student Wishes They Didn’t Make – What time is it? College time! The acceptance letter from one of your top schools came in the mail and your high school graduation party was an experience you will remember forever. Thinking about the next chapter in your life made you feel uneasy and speaking to your parents helped give you an idea of what was to come. Your personal belongings are packed and you’re ready to drive to your out of state school. You might make mistakes, fall on your face and get right back up again unscathed because the real world isn’t until graduation. As you drive down the highway you begin to realize that you don’t have everything figured out.
One of the best parts of being in your 20s is the exciting journey of attending university or college. The final day of graduation is 4 to 8 years ahead and you have enough time in your schedule to figure out who you want to be. Either way, you know that everything will be fine because it is the beginning of a bright future.
If you can turn back the hands of time, what would you do differently while you were back in school? Even if we read all the best books from the library on how to make it in college, it was the last minute decisions and experiences that made the journey worthwhile. Students can learn from these points, while graduates can read, reminisce and agree or disagree with my experiences.
Have a friend that’s just starting out at university? Feel free to share the list on social media.
15. Cash Poor, Credit Rich
Receiving a credit card application in the mail when you are not working and student loans need to be paid is tempting. But not realizing the amount of responsibility it comes with can be dangerous.
It’s a good feeling to finally get one in your hand when it is a time in your life when you need money. It’s as if the credit card companies have a radar that goes off the minute you start university. We can’t ignore the booths on campus and events at school with smiling sales representatives handing you an application. As you are about to leave your favorite clothing store, the cashier asks you if you are interested in a new credit card.
When the problem starts is when the card starts being used for food, clothing, vacations and entertainment when you are not working full time. The best way to use a card while in school is to get a student credit card with a low balance of no more than $500. Start with a department store card, pay attention to your statement online and make payments before the due date. Credit cards can be beneficial in the hands of a responsible person and what a better way to build credit than when you are in school. We also cannot forget that identity theft is on the rise and students (not just the elderly) are a prime target.
14. Being Too Cool For School
Being the most popular student in high school came with many benefits that included being selected for the Cheerleader or football team. Back then, it seems like the cool student had all of the fun. When they were late for class, most of the time the teacher gave them a break. They could get away with clowning around in class and everyone including the teacher would laugh. The minute they got to university, everything changed. It was as if the carpet was taken from under them. Professors were more serious and didn’t excuse late homework. The nerds were favored because they were used to long nights of studying and getting straight A’s, I call them professional go-getters.
When you start college or university, your decisions are weighed heavier than the days of high school. Freshman year might feel like a piece of cake but when exams arrive, the reality of life begins. For the hipsters and cool students reading this article, keep your too cool for school style but remember that being studious and serious about your future is one of the reasons why you are in school. If you don’t understand this now, you will later and perhaps when you do, you’ll have some regrets.
13. Studying a Major That Pleases Your Parents
No matter what time it is in your life, you will see the day that other people will share their opinions about what they think is best for you. Sometimes parents tend to live through their children and most of the time it is because they think they are looking out for you. At the end of the day, there are many students that are confused about a career to focus on and they register for classes with their friends.
Their parents didn’t become a doctor and now it becomes their passion to see you follow their dream for them. Before you go to bed at night and you look in the mirror, make sure you are happy with the direction you are taking.
You have to do everything in your power to ensure you are living at your highest potential. Taking a leap year after high school is the best way to figure out what major and minor to register in. The worst part about this is there are a lot of people that do this and end up unhappy. After looking back in their life they say to themselves I could have done… What if I followed my dreams? I am not where I want to be in life because…
12. Thinking School Is Only For Studying
I remember when I was in college my Professor told everyone in the room that the money students pay to go to a good school was about the connections made before graduation. At that time I didn’t quite understand what that meant, but now it makes sense. It is easy to attend class, study, pass exams and register for classes on time. Everyone on the planet can live the student lifestyle, but what students fail to realize is volunteering, writing for the university newspaper and activities on campus can open the doors of opportunity.
There are college employees that might introduce you to the right person. A guest speaker of a successful leader in your community that you meet at a school event can turn into your career mentor. You might even have a good conversation with a school counselor and they know the CEO of the organization you always wanted to work for. Opportunity is everywhere and students don’t seem to understand this. The idea is to do everything in your power to put yourself in a good situation before you graduate. After class ends don’t run to your night job or head to the mall.
11. Thinking Your 20s Will Last Forever
In our 20s we have a lot of time to discover our true selves, but it only lasts for so long. We all know a few people that forgot to let go of their high school mentality after graduation, only to later find out that it didn’t help them to get too far in life. Cheating on tests and paying people to do your homework is behavior that will follow you after school ends. How you do anything is how you do everything. If you cheat in school, you will feel the need to do the same with your relationships, on your taxes and it will turn into a spiral.
The students that waited until senior year to buckle up and start studying may really regret it. Last minute studying never gets people too far. Late applications for scholarships don’t get approved and flaking on an internship burns bridges. That internship can turn into a full-time job right when you graduate from university. Rather than waiting in line for a job like many other graduates right now, take advantage of the time now to get a head start. Your 20s should be for planning to make life easier in your 30s.
10. Falling For The First Person You Date
Romeo and Juliet stories in school are born every day. They call them high school or college sweethearts and we can’t help but say awww…. When you’re in school, don’t forget that you’re young and probably inexperienced, which means you are capable of falling for the first person you start dating.
But how do you know if he or she is going to accept the person you become after graduating? When the times get rough, will you be able to focus in school? In no way am I promoting a lifestyle of boy or girls gone wild, but there are so many people you are going to meet in the future. It would be disappointing if you quickly settle down and later on in life you meet your true love and have to deliver depressing news to your spouse.
I was told once that people change every 5 to 10 years. When you’re in college you will notice that your personal preferences will mature. The cheerleader girl you used to like might change to the artsy type. To all of the people that are still with their partner from university, we wish you well. To the graduates that are in search of their special someone, you will find them soon.
9. Sharing Your Life On Social Media
Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. What’s not to love about these social media platforms? It captures our fun side, favorite songs, our most embarrassing moments and achievements. Our worst pictures end up being uploaded by our parents in admiration of family moments but keep in mind that if you have chapters of your life online, anyone can find out who you are. Have you ever wondered why you didn’t get that internship at IBM? Maybe it was because your spring break videos of you and your friend’s twerking in Mexico found itself on the Hiring Managers internet browser.
If you are not careful, there is a chance your reputation can be ruined. We see too many times on television of the sad stories about racy videos filmed in the comfort of a person’s home that ends up online. If you meet a nice girl at school, you don’t want them to completely figure out who you are in 30 minutes of browsing your page.
Life is more fun when you live your life in the moment without reaching for your Twitter account to post every new restaurant you go to.
8. No Time For Fun
We have seen these types everywhere, even at work. They arrive at class 20 minutes before it starts, hand their homework in a week before the due date and always seem focused on class.
When you invite them to a football game their response usually sounds like excuses that center around them being up late studying. Underneath these realistic examples is a person that doesn’t know how to relax and smell the roses. The other side of this personality is if you spend most of your time studying and put your social life on hold, how are you going to make friends?
As you put your personal life on the backburner, you will easily burn out and enjoyment of life may happen 4 to 8 years later. Many networking opportunities happen when you are having a good time. People feel comfortable around people they can connect with and relate to. This is how connections happen and you find yourself getting accepted to better schools or even meeting the next Mark Zuckerberg to start the invention of your dreams.
Even when the class is over, your professor takes the initiative to stop and smell the roses. You should too! Instead of burying your head in books this weekend, have the time of your life and don’t regret any moment of it.
7. Working Full Time & Schooling Full Time
Finding a job while in school can happen for many different reasons. Some of us had wealthy parents that paid for every penny of our education. Others had to pay off student loans and a job was the only solution. Don’t forget about the courageous ones that had to pay for their entire education out of their own pocket. As your textbooks, school supplies or courses are being paid, you have to start asking yourself are your grades being sacrificed while you work a full-time job.
One way to work and study is to find a good job on campus. That way rushing after class to get to work on time will be non-existent. Working part time while taking on an FT course load is another way to pay your bills and get ahead in university. Start an online business and you won’t have to be concerned with answering to a boss. Upload your products or market your services on the internet and let it work for you while you’re in school. In life there will be times when putting certain goals on hold will be necessary to focus on what are more important objectives. Even though we are young, time is of the essence and it must not be wasted by taking on more than you can handle.
6. Not Registering For A Minor
A major plus a minor on anyone’s educational roster can be expensive. Scholarships that cover the expenses for a major may not include an education for students interested in a taking a minor. When we were young our parents used to say, always make sure you have a Plan B. Why settle for one educational program when you can have two? Many times I have heard the story of a friend that only studied a Major, participated in an internship and right before graduation decided to go back to University for another 4 years because the passion disappeared. That is almost 8 years of your life trying to figure it out! Imagine the time that person could have saved if they studied a major and a minor.
Another way to maximize your options is to figure out which one makes you happier by studying different things, even if it means dropping the minor eventually.
If you like Psychology more than Criminology, you can cut costs by dropping the minor and being laser focused on one program. The information you learned while studying Criminology can still be applied to your Psychology career.
Don’t feel bad if you have to make a change half way through your program. That is what life is about sometimes.
5. Dropping Out Of School For A Day Job
The second year of college isn’t as nerve-wracking as the first year and the reality of another few years of school is starting to set in. You decide to take on a full-time job because even though you are a student, you still want to have money to travel, go shopping and enjoy life. Within less than a year you get promoted to a manager. Whoa! No degree and a promotion has already arrived? As the excitement takes over you, school comes to mind.
A promotion is a confidence booster and you think to yourself; if I made it this far without graduating, I can get even further with my personality and determination to be the best at this job. Let’s pause here. Anyone can walk into a retail store and become a manager without a college education but here’s when it gets tricky.
If you decide one day that a job dealing with customers is becoming tedious and you need a new career, what are you going to depend on? Remember you already dropped out of school. Even the most successful people in history had to educate themselves to enhance their life. Don’t fall into the trap of cutting corners in life.
4. Only Taking Classes In The Morning
When people get into a routine of attending elementary and high school at 8am every day, they usually think it has to be the same in college. Most schools offer early morning courses that will have you up as early as 6am to get ready, finish a bit of homework and rush to school.
But don’t forget to take advantage of the courses that start at 11am or in the afternoon. The one part I loved about late classes is I could buy groceries, meet with friends, study for an upcoming exam and even watch a bit of television earlier in the day.
Sleeping through the lecture or forgetting most of the material because you’re still tired is torture. If you drive, morning classes are the time that nine to fivers are on the road heading to work. Traffic jams never put a smile on anyone’s face, but you can avoid them!
With a later start time, you can also volunteer and give back to the community or take on an internship that relates to your field.
3. Not Getting Acquainted With Professors
Hold on, wait a minute. We are not suggesting that you get a little too friendly with a professor, but they are human beings too. Believe it or not, they are connected to influential people that can help you take your life to the next level. Most of the time they know which students are there to succeed or just dragging their feet to add a pre-requisite on their report card.
If you need help, some will even go out of their way to tutor you for free! Not to mention the scholarships and job opportunities that you can be referred to that are not available to the general public.
Sit in the front row and participate in conversations to get the participation points that you deserve. Stay a few minutes after class to get their perspective on a topic and it might help you with adding more information to an essay. He might refer you to a book in the library that applies to the course. They might even write a letter of recommendation if you need one in the future. Never look at the grumpy professor as the enemy.
Most of the time, they see a lot of unmotivated students walking around campus. There is nothing wrong with leveraging connections with professors.
2. Thinking Your Classmates Aren’t Important
Much like the point on getting to know your professors, making acquaintances in school is an essential part of the experience. You never know who you are sitting beside in class. The guy that looks like a skater might be related to the CEO of the company you always wanted to work for. The lady that sits in the front of the class might send you yesterday’s lecture notes by email because you had to call out sick.
All you need to do is look around the room on the first day and figure out the people that look nice. Spark a conversation about why they are attending the class. Talk about the last school that you attended. Be interested in their story because you never know what might come out of the conversation. Ask for their email or phone number and after the course ends for the semester keep in touch with them.
It is a better experience to work on a project with someone that you get along with versus being an introvert all semester and ending up with a slacker that doesn’t want to pull their weight. Plus, this will also help with your networking skills when the school events happen. Practice makes perfect.
1. Out Of Control Partying
This rule can apply at any point in our lives. College students have so many temptations to choose from and drugs are one of them. How embarrassing is it when a President becomes elected and pictures of them in university resurface of them high on drugs. That is never a good look! While your brain cells are properly functioning, the idea is to maintain a healthy mind and body. Turning to recreational drugs or even alcohol to get rid of anxiety or stress of being a student will only make things worse.
Being addicted to a drug for your entire time in school will not help you retain what you went to school to learn. One thing can lead to another and you can end up in the hospital. Who wants to ruin their future for a temporary high? Seek out help from a school counselor or a therapist. Speak to someone you trust about your problems. You will be surprised about the obstacles others had to endure that will make your problems look like child’s play. A real friend wouldn’t let you fall by the wayside. They are supposed to lift you up and suggest a healthy alternative to fixing your problems.