As a follow up to my 10 things I did right as a college student, I’ve done the opposite and made a list of the mistakes I made in college.
This is the first year in over 17 years that I haven’t had a first day of school and damn does it feel good! It’s so nice to not have to think about getting up for class, checking Blackboard daily, studying for tests and all the other stuff that comes with being a college student.
Now that I’m out and graduated looking back there are many things I could have done differently that would have made a difference in my experience. The best thing you can do for yourself is to learn from other people’s mistakes so for those of you who are still in this phase in your life, here are 10 things I did wrong as a college student.
1. Not planning my four years ahead of time
Before you start your freshman year you generally have an idea of what your curriculum for your 4 years of college is going to be.
Since I started at a community college with no idea what four year university I wanted to transfer to, it was hard for me to plan without knowing how credits are going to transfer. There’s no doubt I would have studied abroad for a semester if I planned it out my credits ahead of time.
By the time I was at a four year university I was pretty much done with my general requirements so it was hard to find courses that I haven’t taken that would transfer as credits for my major. It’s easier to transfer general requirements than major specific courses when studying abroad.
2. Not taking advantage of professors office hours
Usually on the first day of classes all your professors give you a syllabus with their office hours information printed at the top and I’m sure only like 10% of the students actually go visit their professor periodically throughout the semester.
I sure wasn’t one of them and looking back I definitely missed on a lot of real world advise from a professionals who would have had my best interest in mind.
Most professors want to see their students succeed so by building a relationship with them outside of the classroom they would be more inclined to be a reference for you after you graduate.
3. Changing my major
Are you even a college student if you don’t change your major at least once? But honestly…
When I first came to college I wanted to do Business Economics and ECON 102 and Business Statistics weeded me out real quick.
The shitty thing about changing your major half way through is that it may set you back a semester or two since you might have to take more classes than you anticipated to fulfill your new graduation requirements.
I would recommend recent high school graduates to do like the Europeans do and take a gap year till you figure out what you want to major in.
4. Not taking more courses during the summer
Having the opportunity to take random courses just to reach the status of full time student to graduate sounds like a dream that I didn’t get to live.
If you want this to be your reality and you don’t have credits from high school then you should consider taking courses over the summer. There are numerous advantages to this such as smaller class size, more time to focus on course, and it’s said to be easier than taking it during the school year.
5. Waiting until senior year to create study groups with classmates
The greatest thing I did for myself my senior year was collaborate with a group of my classmates to complete homework assignments and study guide for exams. My group and I even went as far as creating a Quizlet so everyone could add the information they found for the exams.
Being a part of study group helped me understand the material better since we would often help each other when there was confusion. Definitely check your syllabus to make sure you’re allowed to work in groups on homework assignments so you don’t get in trouble academically.
6. Joining clubs but never attending meetings
When I first started college I was so excited and joined clubs that I thought would be fun to be a part of. Unfortunately, I rarely made it to meetings because they would be at like 6,7 or 8 in the evening and by that time I was too lazy to go back to campus.
There’s no doubt I missed out on cool field trip opportunities and creating relationships with people with similar interests. It’s true when they say you snooze, you lose.
7. Choosing an 8 a.m. class
If you don’t want to hate yourself then do not sign up for an 8 a.m. class especially if you have to take the bus, because that means you have to wake up at 6 just to get ready and make it to class on time.
The one time I had an 8 a.m class I only showed up for the exams so… yeah wouldn’t recommend.
8. Not taking more advantage of paid studies
The common struggle for many college students is not having enough funds to keep up with your social life.
One of the easiest and quickest ways to make a few extra bucks is to sign up for paid studies. The ones I did participate in required me to try on clothing and answer a few questions and the other one was a computer simulation to see how money motivates people followed by a survey.
Since I went to a science and research university, I would always get emails about various studies needing participants all across campus. The payout was typically a giftcard to a coffee shop on campus or a min of $20 cash. Talk about easy moneyyyy!
9. Not participating in the National Student Exchange program
If you didn’t know as a college student you could do a National Student Exchange and study for a year or semester at participating universities in the United States, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.
How cool would it be to study at a university with crystal clear beaches and palm trees as your backyard?
I found out about this program during my junior year and was seriously considering applying but ended up not being able to due to credits. This program is a great opportunity for you to experience the campus life of a different college without the commitment and culture shock of going abroad.
A few perks of this program include being able to take courses not offered at your home institution, opportunity to broaden your personal and educational perspective, and explore career options.
10. Not taking a gap year
When it comes down to it all my academic faults are due to poor planning, so taking a gap year would have been highly beneficial for me.
A gap year is taking a year break typically between high school and college from school to travel and figure out who you are/what you want to do with your life. While it’s not too common in the U.S. there are tons of online programs with full itineraries now that encourage students to take breaks and travel the world.
Looking back there are probably so many more mistakes that I made in college, but nonetheless I’m still proud of everything I did accomplish in my 5 years.
Reminiscing on your college years, is there anything you would do differently? Let me know in the comments and be sure to share this with any college students who need some guidance.
Thanks for reading and stay hungry to learn, create and grow!