Moving away from home and into the college dorms can be a stressful process. The chapter of your life known as “high school” has come to a close and now a new stage of your life is beginning.
Living away from home for the first time will be an adjustment. Mom won’t be there to do your laundry, give you cold medicine when you’re not feeling well, or cook your favorite meal on Sundays…bummer.
However, I’ve got some good news for you! If you avoid these 3 common mistakes that a lot of new college students make, you’ll be settled into college life sooner than you think!
Mistake #1 – Becoming a Loner
You should try to spend just as much time outside of your dorm room as you do inside of your dorm room. This is crucial to meeting other students. Try working out at the campus fitness center, or hanging out at the cafeteria or student center. These are all great places to strike up a conversation with other students.
Why is this important?
Research indicates that 1 in every 4 college students leave campus before their sophomore year. I believe the inability for students to make friends and feel like they’re part of the campus community is the main reason why students leave campus after their first year.
This is why it’s important that you get out and meet other students with similar interests! Even if you were shy in high school, not stepping out of your comfort zone in college is sure to make your college experience less enjoyable.
An upperclassman at SIU-Carbondale once said, “The students who stay in their dorm rooms all day are usually the ones who go home within the first few months.”
Remember, this is a scary process for all other new college freshman too, so you can take comfort in knowing that they probably feel just as uncomfortable as you do!
Mistake #2 – Racking Up Credit Card Debt
Credit cards can be dangerous for new college students. Before signing up for a credit card, be sure that you understand the terms and are ready to handle this type of responsibility
A credit card is not FREE money. When you sign up for a credit card, you are entering into a contract with the credit card company. In simplest terms, this contract states that you will pay them back any money that you spend including interest.
Most students make the mistake of getting a credit card and going straight to the mall to charge a bunch of clothes or shoes, forgetting that the bill will be coming in the mail later.
If you do decide to get a student credit card, here a few things that you should keep in mind:
– Don’t apply for every student credit card that is offered to you. Take the time to read each application carefully and select the one that has the lowest interest rate with no annual fee.
– If you can’t afford it now, then you probably won’t be able to afford it when the bill comes. Therefore, you should only use your credit card in emergency situations. Getting a flat tire is an emergency; not having enough money for pizza on Friday night is not.
– Pay your bill on time. The late fees and interest that you’ll get charged just isn’t worth it.
Still don’t understand why you should exercise extreme caution with student credit cards?
Take a look these shocking student credit card statistics from USA Today:
– The average undergraduate student has approximately $3,000 in credit card debt
– The average senior in college will graduate with over $4,000 in credit card debt
– 45% of teenagers know how to use credit cards, but only 26% know how credit card interest and fees work
– 84% of college students admit to needing more education in financial management
Mistake #3 – Extracurricular Activity Overload
During the first week or so of classes, your college or university will host an “activity” or “involvement” fair.
An activity fair is an event where all the clubs and organizations on campus have student representatives who talk to new college freshman about their respective club. (Your school might call this event something different, but it will be similar to what I described.)
You’ll walk away from this event with a ton of free giveaways and informational brochures, excited to sign up for all of the clubs and organizations that interest you.
Here’s why this is a problem. College is not high school. Getting adjusted to classes and the amount of homework you’ll have is tough, so signing up for a ton of clubs and extracurricular activities right away might not be the best idea.
You’ll want to give yourself enough time to get fully adjusted to life as a college student before stretching yourself too thin. Remember, academics come first, extracurricular activities second.
Yes, employers do want to hire well-rounded students who have the ability to juggle multiple tasks, but a student with poor grades who participated in 10 different clubs and organizations on campus definitely won’t impress any recruiter.
TheCollegeHelper.com is an informational resource that equips students with everything they need to make the transition from high school to college, and supports them through the beginning of their college career. Students at all stages of high school can get step by step information and tasks to follow as they research, prepare, and succeed in college!