College Freshman Struggles in 2023: How to Avoid or Fix Freshman Mistakes

Freshman year is a tough season for many. But like anything that people experience the first time, it presents a valuable array of lessons! It’s common for first-year students to find themselves struggling to adjust to college life, and making mistakes is part of it!

You can’t have it all together right from the beginning, which is perfectly normal. From lifestyle to academics to financial mistakes, we’ve collected a handful of the most common college freshman struggles and mishaps; and how to deal with them.


The Most Common Freshman Struggles

Time Management

Time Management

Poor time management skills aren’t new. High school students and college freshmen struggle with it. And now that things are way different and even more stressful in college compared to back then, this tends to become a worse struggle with everything else you would have to juggle. 

How to manage:

  • Develop good study habits during the first semester. This helps save both your time and energy.
  • Strategize to avoid or lessen procrastination. Know yourself first, identify your patterns, and then create strategies to steer you away from things that will waste your time.
  • Make organized to-do lists, set a designated study time, and consider making use of productivity and scheduling apps.

Roommate Issues

Roommate Issues

Staying in a shared living space? We’ve all most likely heard about irresponsible, messy roommates seemingly making it harder to get through college. Having a roommate can have a significant effect on your studies, and it could either be the best or the worst thing you’ll experience in college. And what if the situation seems to be the latter?

How to manage:

  • Evaluate whether or not staying with a roommate in dorm rooms is really for you.
  • Talk to your roommate. Don’t be afraid to address them when they’re being messy and making you uncomfortable.
  • Set ground rules and boundaries with your roommate/s. Be open to different solutions for your “roommate issues” and be willing to compromise, but at the same time, be very clear with what you will not tolerate.

Overall Health and Well-being

Overall Health and Well-being

Health in general is something that easily gets overlooked and neglected by busy college students. As freshmen deal with newfound adult responsibilities along with a heavier course load, both physical and mental health issues can arise.

How to manage:

  • Avoid using/depending on substances to cope; look for more productive and healthier coping mechanisms instead.
  • Make wise food choices and try to incorporate enough physical activity daily. Giving your body proper nourishment and exercise will help you to stay healthy and alert as you work and lessen your chances of getting sick.
  • Don’t hesitate to look for help when you need it. Have a support system that works for you, be it your family, friends, or something as simple as an online support group.

Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety

We’ve all been there at some point. And it can indeed be scary to be a small student in this big, new college. Social anxiety can often make it difficult to accomplish basic and necessary tasks such as talking to your professors, delivering a presentation, and making new friends, which can lead to isolation and further mental health problems.

How to manage:

  • Seek help. Ask for expert advice, open up to your academic advisors and college professors, trusted friend or family member, or join support groups. You can also try looking into your campus’ resources for a mental health center. They can offer you help with managing symptoms of social anxiety, as well as other things you may be struggling with.
  • Find ways to cope and overcome your anxiety. Consider attending social functions. Smile at strangers. Join a study group. Make yourself seem more approachable. Go the extra mile and make new friends! 

Homesickness

Homesickness

Homesickness usually kicks in when you start to feel overwhelmed adjusting to drastic changes now that you’re in college. Numerous studies have shown that it is typical for students to have feelings of homesickness and wishing their parents were around, especially in their first year of college. But often, these feelings can escalate into college depression.  

How to manage:

  • Give yourself time to adjust.
  • Explore and meet new people. Don’t confine yourself. Socializing offers a lot of benefits, and it can also help decrease feelings of loneliness and increase motivation.
  • Call home. Make time to check up on your loved ones and let them check on you; Your family and old friends probably miss you just as much as you miss them.

Finding and Maintaining Balance

Finding and Maintaining Balance

You will find that college is a mixture of both academic hard work and social shenanigans, and sometimes even work, should you ever choose to find a job while in college. All three demand a lot of time and energy, so it’s easy to neglect one for the other. This lack of balance in general can contribute to a heightened level of stress and overwhelming feelings.

How to manage:

  • Plan your day and/or week ahead. Take time to look at your pending tasks and all the things you have to take care of, and list them down. Have a specific time set for each task.
  • Don’t let your responsibilities overlap. Focus on one thing at a time. Don’t stress about school while working, and vice versa. Sticking with the right study habits will help you avoid feeling more strained and anxious and get things done more efficiently.

Common Mistakes College Freshmen Commit

Not getting enough sleep

Not getting enough sleep

Not getting enough sleep is very common among stressed-out students, so much so that it is almost considered normal despite its known negative effects. Sleep deprivation is linked to decreased cognitive function, depression, and a lower GPA in college students. While pulling an all-nighter every once in a while isn’t all too bad, it can become a destructive habit and take a toll on both your health and grades.

How to avoid:

  • Make sleep a priority every night. Avoid all-nighters.
  • Stay away from nicotine and caffeine. These are stimulants that can negatively affect your quality of sleep and can cause other health complications.

How to fix:

  • Make your bedroom more conducive to sleep.
  • Reevaluate your daily schedule so that you can squeeze in at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Skipping Classes and Orientation Events

Skipping Classes and Orientation Events

Missed classes aren’t uncommon. Emergencies happen, and everyone gets under the weather. But doing it on purpose is a bad idea, even if you’ve done some advanced reading for a class or if you simply deem a certain school event unimportant.

While it can be tempting and even seemingly reasonable not to show up, poor attendance can have a particularly negative effect, especially during freshman year. Think about everything you could miss: extra credit, the introduction of new rules and topics, and assignments, all of which will affect your final grade.

How to avoid:

  • Avoid situations that make you skip classes/events, such as refraining from getting drunk the day before a class or an important school event.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep to avoid oversleeping the next day.
  • Don’t give yourself reasons to skip class, whether it’s an in-person or online school that you’re attending. Take care of your health to avoid getting sick.

How to fix:

  • Most colleges encourage teachers to check on their students, so be honest about your issues with skipped classes and missed activities–and present solutions to make up for those.
  • Make a commitment and an effort to avoid skipping classes and events.

Indiscriminate Social Media Posting

Indiscriminate Social Media Posting

Social media will be a useful tool in your college years. It can help you in terms of networking, job hunting, and, as the name suggests, socializing. That being said, be mindful about posting your social life.

Mindlessly posting inappropriate content can put people off and sully your professional reputation in the eyes of schools and employers, making it harder for you to land jobs and financial aid, and giving out a little too much personal information can put you at risk for stalkers and identity theft.

How to avoid:

  • Think twice before posting. Ask yourself, would you be comfortable and safe even with strangers seeing what you’re about to post? You would NEVER want your future employer to see this!
  • Refrain from disclosing too much private information about yourself.
  • Absolutely avoid posting inappropriate content on your public page.

How to fix:

  • Take down inappropriate posts; if there are any.
  • Consider having separate accounts, one for professional use and another for your personal circle or trusted audience.
  • Familiarize yourself with online etiquette and safety, and manage your privacy settings on the social platforms you are in.

Isolating

Isolating

Transitioning to college is challenging, and there will be a lot of factors that can contribute to making you isolated, such as stress and the lack of time or energy for social interaction. Whether or not the isolation is intentional, it can greatly affect the academic performance, mental health, and emotional health of most students in college.

How to avoid:

  • Take the opportunity to socialize when you can.
  • Recognize when you are being isolated, whether you are intentionally isolating yourself or when you are involuntarily isolated. 

How to fix:

  • Participate in campus events, extracurricular activities, and social functions.
  • Make friends and talk to people more. It’s always better to recognize a couple of faces and make good connections during your first year.

Carelessly Spending

Carelessly Spending

Learning how to handle your money as early as now will help you make the most out of your college experience and give you a good headstart in your financial future. But losing track of your spending, spending unnecessarily, and money problems are common among many college freshmen, especially if you do not have the experience in handling your own finances.

How to avoid:

  • Avoid temptations to spend. This can mean simply having breakfast before going out so you won’t get hungry and tempted to buy something to eat.
  • Be mindful when spending on something you can go without. Think of the consequences beforehand.

How to fix:

  • Recognize your expenses and create a budget based on the things you need, and stick to it.
  • Opt for cheaper ways to have fun instead of splurging.
  • Develop a good habit of saving money.

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Remember: There are Solutions to your College Freshman Woes!

Our aim is to provide freshmen college students with a way to achieve a good college education and an exciting experience. But obviously, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all guide!

Remember, college life is complicated, and every college student is different in navigating their journey. No two struggles are the same, either! How you will reach academic success, handle academic stress, and stay on top of your personal, financial, and academic struggles all comes down to you.


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