Expert Tips: The Most Common College Freshman Mistakes


David Mudd

Starting a new life as a college freshman can be a daunting and overwhelming experience. You’re practically a neophyte trying to get your footing, which means you’re likely to commit a few mistakes along the way.

Today, we’ve rounded up some of the most common college freshman blunders and how to avoid them so you can make the most of your first year in college.

Ignoring Health Protocols

Your first year in college can be one of the most exciting moments of your life. But while we’re faced with a global pandemic, it’s best to follow your college or university’s current health guidelines.

Many countries across the globe have recently reopened schools for face-to-face classes, and academic institutions are asking that students practice strict social distancing measures and wearing face masks to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

As a freshman, it’s important to keep yourself updated on the latest protocols and recommendations to stay safe and healthy on-campus. Be sure to visit your college’s website and review Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) health guidelines.

Doing It All On Your Own

If you need help with a class or assignment, you can check homework help websites for college students or talk to your professor. If you’re stressed out or feel you’re on the brink of an academic burnout, speak with a counselor.

Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. Don’t be afraid to seek assistance even before you need it, especially when your grades are at stake. Most colleges these days offer academic, health, as well as social resources that are tailored to freshman students. And more institutions are working on addressing mental health issues via counseling.

Which brings us to the next point…

Taking Your Mental Health for Granted

As a freshie, there will be new experiences and new pressures that could push you to the brink of anxiety. And here’s the hard truth: A lot of college students struggle with mental health issues. Some of the common causes include:

  • Class and peer pressure
  • Poor financial management
  • Struggle to build new relationships
  • Balancing studies, work, and life

Many freshmen deal with these pressures simply by avoiding them. The problem with this is that it could lead to sleeping and eating disorders, substance abuse, and even depression. If you feel yourself struggling, reach out to an on-campus counselor or advisor for help.

Skipping Too Many Classes

So you stayed up too late the night before and overslept through your 8 AM class… for the umpteenth time. It’s no big deal, right? It’s just your first year in college, after all.


Tardiness and chronic absenteeism will eventually catch up to you and can have major consequences in your overall academic performance. Just imagine skipping class a day when a teacher introduces a new topic, announces a pop quiz, or assigns groups for a project that’s due next week. You can easily fall behind. You can even fail some courses just by missing a certain number of classes.

Meanwhile, if a class is too much for your hectic schedule, you may want to consider dropping it before the drop deadline, if possible. This way, it won’t appear on your academic record and you won’t have to pay unnecessary fees for the class.

Bad Study Habits

Many of us have gotten away with not studying in high school, but once you’re in college, you need to work extra hard in order to pass. If you haven’t developed healthy study habits in high school, now couldn’t be a better time to create a study routine. Check your college’s learning center for resources on developing good note-taking and other critical learning skills. Make it a habit to review your notes every day to avoid last-minute cramming. If possible, form a study group with your classmates.

Poor Time Management

Procrastination is the bane of all students. Combine it with disorganization and your first year in college could be a living hell. To avoid stress and cramming, use a planner or calendar app so you won’t have to miss exams and deadlines, and rush through projects and assignments. Break up major tasks into smaller, more manageable parts so you won’t have to feel overwhelmed or need to pull an all-nighter.

Not Keeping a Budget

As a college student, you’ll be faced with lots of expenses besides tuition. There’s housing, books, food, and even transportation. If you’re a freshie without a clear budget, you could end up living beyond your means and then later on find yourself unable to pay bills. Some colleges and universities offer financial literacy programs to help their students learn how to properly manage their finances. Make sure to take advantage of these even before the start of the semester.

College life can be a total culture shock for first-year students, especially if you’re attending school out-of-state or if you’re fresh out of homeschool. Mistakes are inevitable during this transition. While there’s no problem making these mistakes, it’s possible – if not better – to prevent them from happening. Make sure to keep these common college freshman mistakes in mind before making your next move.