Your first two months on campus can set the pace for the rest of your college career. Think of it like running a marathon: you want a strong start to guide your attitude and determination through future miles, but set out too fast and you'll be out of fuel before you can finish. If you can find that delicate balance, you'll be able to make the most of your time at college as soon as you arrive. It may seem easier said than done, but keep reading for four common mistakes to avoid in those crucial fall months.
1. Missing the moment
As excited as you may be to embrace the freedom of collegiate life, there will come a time where you feel homesick. Whether it's for your high school friends, the taste of a meal you didn't have to microwave or even just the comfort of your own bed, there are plenty of reasons to miss home. It would be easy to convince yourself to leave campus on the weekend, especially if your college is close to home, but try to fight the urge or you may miss out! The first two months of college are when you find your niche, get to know your surroundings and form friendships.
Fend off homesickness by staying busy and fully immersing yourself in the college experience. Go to weekend sporting events with your dormmates, explore campus and get involved. Soon, your new surroundings will start to feel like home and you'll have special memories that last a lifetime.
2. Taking on too much (or too little!)
Balance is key to a successful first semester. Take on too much and you're overwhelmed, but too little and you're missing out on the full college experience. College gives you a unique opportunity to try new things, find your passions and meet people you never would have encountered otherwise. Be sure to attend the involvement fair for an overview of all your options.
That said, it's tempting to load up on credit hours and clubs your first semester in college, especially after looking at the buffet of options available. Keep in mind, college courses require much more homework, reading and analysis than your typical high school class. If possible, talk to an advisor before signing up for classes to get an estimate of how many to take on at once. Once classes start, you'll quickly figure out what's working and what's not. Most schools allow you to drop classes within the first few weeks of school with no penalty. Be honest with yourself and decide if you're able to juggle all of your courses successfully while still saving time to get involved and get acclimated.
3. Letting a misstep define you
Even with plenty of prep, your first few months in college may be tough, and that's okay. You may not enjoy your major as much as you hoped, your study habits may need revamped or it may just take you longer to adjust to a new setting. The most important thing is to continuously strive to improve. Don't let a bad test score or a cold professor define your self-worth or cause you to throw in the towel. You can do well and you have the power to turn things around by being proactive, dedicated and unstoppable. Your ability to stay in the game and bounce back from a rocky start will define your college career more than a few bad grades.
Your first few months of college will be exciting, scary, nerve-wracking, fun and probably a bit stressful, but keep these tips in mind and you'll find yourself in a position to start working toward your dream from day one.