Ah, college. Your parents have just dropped you off, and as you sit in your dorm room you think “Holy crap, I have freedom!” Although college life can be amazing, it also lays the foundation for the journey into the real world. You have responsibilities, you have to start budgeting the money you have and you have to finally do your own laundry.
It's easy to get overwhelmed and over-excited by the thought of how awesome the next 4 years will be. However, there are three important mistakes that many college freshmen make that they end up regretting for many years to come. So, budding new college freshmen, avoid the following things like the plague and you'll find that college will not only be as unbelievably cool as everyone says but that you'll be well prepared for life after college.
1. Missing Classes/Goofing Off
So you've just gotten your schedule and it's pretty intense. You're taking 16 credits, with classes from 8 AM to 6 PM. You may think to yourself that you thought college was supposed to be fun. The first week you go to every class religiously, buy every textbook and do every assignment you can in your quest to become the uber-college student who juggles partying and studying. Then one day the alarm rings and you just don't feel like getting out of bed, so you miss a class.
A week later you miss another. In a couple of months, you're awake at 8 AM, but it's not to go to class it's to play video games with your roommate. It's easy to fall into a cycle of goofing off, especially since few colleges have attendance policies, but avoid making this costly mistake. The last thing you want is to end up on academic probation your second semester because of all the partying you did in your first. Mess up one more time and you may get kicked out of school, dashing any hopes you had of graduating from a prestigious university.
This is not to say that missing one class here and there will be detrimental to your education, but keep absences to a minimum. Your parents (or you) are paying for this great education so why not take advantage of it and go to class? The worst that'll happen is you'll learn something. The best? You'll graduate with a 4.0, marry a model and start a 6 figure job (ok, that's a little ambitious, but there's nothing wrong with dreaming!)
2. Not Getting A Job
A job?! With my schedule?? Yes, believe it or not, but getting a job is something you will probably wish you had done as you reach the end of your college career. With a job, you learn responsibility quickly. For 18 years, mom and dad have been doing everything for you, from buying you clothes to buying you food.
No one wants to admit it at age 18, but you've pretty much been coddled your whole life. Getting a job is the best way to prove to yourself (and your parents) that you can handle whatever the world has to throw at you. This doesn't mean you get a graveyard shift at the laundromat that cuts into your study time, but even something as simple as a work-study job on campus where you put in 10-20 hrs a week can be rewarding. Believe me, no matter the amount on it, the first paycheck you get will feel good.
3. Not Networking
Let's face it: after you graduate, you have to get a job. Mom and Dad are not going to be too keen about you moving right back in and continuing the lifestyle you had before you left for school. But it's not as simple as walking into an office and saying “Hey, I'll be working here now”. That's where networking comes in.
Use your time at college to take advantage of the tons of free resources they offer for career placement, small business groups, and networking organizations. Meeting people is key, because those people may be the ones who hook you up with a sweet job once you graduate. Consider joining a professional fraternity/sorority that places academics over partying. Your frat brothers or sorority sisters could be the ones who push your resume to the top of the pile when you apply for a job. Get to know different people, and try to be confident in your God-given abilities.
Make them need to hire you. You don't want to spend 4 years' worth of tuition to end up back home on the couch with a degree that's doing nothing for you.