3 Common Freshman Mistakes to Avoid

by   |   estephen@bju.edu   |  
Freshman mistake sleeping in class

Freshman year is a big turning point for you. Number one, it’s your first year in college: you’re in a new space surrounded by new people and bound for new experiences. Number two, this period in your life is when you’ll start figuring out who you really are and what you really want to do with your life.

Because your first year of college is such an important, pivotal milestone, you’ll be vulnerable to some pitfalls alongside all your opportunities for success. Here are some of the common freshman mistakes and how to avoid them.


Your first semester of college, everything can feel like a Big Deal. There’s a lot to do! New friends, new classes, maybe even a new town—you’ll want to see it all! And do it all!

One of the most common freshman mistakes is packing the first two semesters so tightly with extracurriculars, social activities, work commitments and class commitments that there isn’t time to breathe, think, eat or sleep.

The point of college is to learn: to learn how to be a better learner, worker and person. It’s hard to do that when you’re overloaded. If you’re skipping meals, not sleeping more than a few hours a night, and filling every waking hour with voluntary responsibilities, you’re hurting yourself mentally and physically. Eventually, you’re going to hurt your performance, too.

While it’s important to get as much as you can out of your college years, it’s just as important to schedule time to stop. Your time for meditation on the Word and prayer is crucial to your success as a student. It’s important to take time to hang out with friends and family. And it’s important to take time for yourself, doing activities that allow you space to relax and refocus.

Forming Fragile Relationships

It’s possible you’ll build a huge posse of friends your first few weeks of college. With all of the freshman-focused activities on your schedule, you’ll run into all kinds of interesting fellow newbies. You might find it tempting to latch on to a large group of people—and assume that you all will be friends for life.

But in college, no one finishes the same person he was when he started. The people in the group you hang with your first year will grow and change, and you’ll likely grow apart. Do yourself a favor your first year and let yourself float from group to group, keeping your circle of acquaintances wide, but being more choosy when it comes to the close friendships you form. Being careful while forming friendships safeguards your spiritual health—and protects you from a lot of distracting first-year drama.

Not Reaching out for Help

Faculty and staff are here to help you. During your first few weeks as a student, budget some time to talk to your advisor about your future plans and your schedule, making sure that the schedule you’ve built is as efficient as possible.

Stuck in a class? Working really hard in a class, only to keep flunking quizzes or tests? Your teachers want to help you, but they’re not psychic—they may not know you need or want help unless you go talk to them. Know your professors’ office hours and take advantage of them.

Your first year of college can put a strain on your mental well-being. If you’re struggling emotionally or spiritually, schedule a time to talk to a campus counselor. It’s their job to help you work through difficult issues and support you in your personal growth. They’re there to help, so don’t be afraid to ask them for it!

See Also: Student Resources for Success


Emma Galloway Stephens is a creative writing faculty member in BJU’s Division of English Language and Literature.