There’s a learning curve to every new season in life. Adjusting to post-secondary life can be somewhat overwhelming and you’ll be forgiven if you make any (or all) of these very common student mistakes.
For many students, it’s the first time you’re moving away from home, the first time you’re juggling debt, and it might even be the first time you have to share a co-ed bathroom. Fun times!
Although we can’t give you advice on the co-ed bathroom thing, we can share some helpful tips on avoiding unnecessary student mistakes that so many of us make while in post-secondary.
1. Enrolling in 8 AM Monday Morning Classes
Unlike high school, the nice thing about university is that you can (mostly) set your own schedule. You can decide when to take classes and even whom you want to take them from. The race to get into high-interest classes taught by the most lenient and lively professors is competitive. Maybe every spot for that “Popular Music” or “Ancient Humour” elective class is taken but you’ve got a spot on the waitlist.
Unless you know you’re definitely a morning person (you know, the kind of person who wakes up at the crack of dawn with a smile on their face), there’s no good reason for you to enrol in an 8 AM Monday morning class. Mondays are tough enough as it is, don’t make them harder for yourself. Rule of thumb: stay away from 8 AM courses, if possible. The worst.
2. All-Night Study Sessions
We get that it’s easy to procrastinate. Research proves that humans tend to avoid work that they’re intimidated or challenged by which might explain why you’ve been avoiding writing that paper. Maybe you put off studying to socialize or to play just one more round of Fall Guys. Perhaps you simply forgot about a huge paper that was due for your hardest class (hey, it happens). Before you know it, it’s the night before a big exam and there’s absolutely NO way you can absorb all the material you need for your big test. There seems to be no other way but to consider pulling an all-nighter.
Instead of forcing your tired, dehydrated brain to memorize an unreasonable amount of content, consider teaming up with a friend or tutor early on to evaluate exactly what you should be focusing on. Don’t wait until 2 AM to call for help. Give yourself the upper hand and eliminate that stress.
3. Grocery Shopping When You’re Hungry and Broke
As a student juggling schoolwork, a social life, campus commitments, and maybe even a part-time job, grocery shopping (along with other self-care chores like laundry) might be the last stop on your list of priorities. Perhaps you’ve wasted most of your grocery budget on booze and coffee and you’re down to your last microwaveable pizza.
Avoid those desperate hangry pains and try to have some snacks on hand before you cave in and hit the grocery store hungry and broke. Nothing is worse than browsing aisles of food with hungry eyes and an empty bank account. If you do find yourself stuck in a desperate state, jot down a quick grocery-shopping list before you actually enter the store. Force yourself to stick to your list and don’t let your eyes wander from the essentials. No matter what your stomach may be telling you, your dinner shouldn’t consist of a jumbo-size box of cookie dough ice cream and Cheetos. Although, yum!
(BONUS: How about just winning all your groceries for the year with Canada’s Luckiest Student?)
4. Focusing on Just the Grades
Obviously, school is the most important part of the post-secondary experience. But if you’re spending all of your time in the library by yourself, you could be missing out on relationships and life-long memories that make the “university experience” so valuable. Not to mention, it’s a great time to start thinking about your career, how to position yourself, and how to build your network before you graduate. Unfortunately, getting straight A’s won’t guarantee you a job out of college, but an extensive network could. Given the unpredictable job market, building a network early is becoming increasingly important.
Campus clubs and teams are also a great way to meet new friends, kick your social life into high gear, and create lasting memories. Not to mention, co-ed teams are a great way to meet dateable strangers (no cheesy pick-up line required). Do something crazy, get out of your comfort zone, and make your semester an experience worth living.
5. Ignoring the Resources
Professors can be tricky. Sometimes they’re friendly and invite their students to connect during office hours. Perhaps they’re so friendly that they’ve offered their personal contact information for you to use during the semester (I’ve known a professor who gave her entire class her cell phone number—you know, in case of political philosophy emergencies).
If a professor invites you to connect, do it. They can be incredibly valuable mentors and resources that could vouch for you when you most need it. You never know when you’ll need a recommendation for an internship application, graduate school, or even a job. It’s always better if a professor at least knows a little bit about you before you ask them for a reference letter.
You’re going to make plenty of student mistakes during your time at college or university but that’s just part of the experience. As long as you grow from them and keep moving forward, it’ll be all good.
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*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.