College freshmen mistakes

Hey, I’m Scott. I’m currently a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying Journalism and Communication Arts. I’m hoping to become a sports journalist one day because I have been told by more than one source that my place in the sports world is nothing short of destiny. I just finished interning for and am continuing my work in the sports field with them this semester. I enjoy doing plenty of outdoorsy stuff and have found myself to become quite the runner, never thought that would happen. I place a ton of value on personal experience and feel that my obligation to the people I can reach is to use that experience to help them better accomplish the the goals they have in their lives. I’m hoping my contributions on this site can help!


It seems like yesterday when I was moving into my college dorm and starting my new grand adventure as a college man. Now having gone through three years of college, I always think back to my freshman year where I got sucked into two problems that most freshmen struggle to avoid. When entering freshman year, it is paramount to avoid these mistakes: thinking you can coast through each one of your classes, and taking classes with your friends.

It may not seem like it, but the thought of coasting through college is a real problem that most freshmen have going into their first year. I can say from personal experience that one of the most prevalent problems in high school is that some students do not feel they are challenged enough. I coasted through high school like a lot of other students. I obtained a 3.75 GPA without studying for one test and not doing any of my homework senior year because my teachers knew that I understood everything. Because I had such an easy time, it only made sense to me that college would be the same. Despite how many times I was reminded by myself and others that I would have to study for my tests, the thought never occurred to me when it mattered because I knew I would wing it and turn out just fine. Midterms were a wake up call.

When I entered my first midterm, I was pretty cocky and thought that the worst possible grade I could get was a B. That B would have been gladly taken after I got a pathetic D and had no idea where that grade came from. Other midterms went the same way: a sad B here, a strong B- there, and a C on a paper worth 30% of my grade. Now these grades should have been a wake up call for me, but my studying did not reflect that urgency to step it up. I mean sure, I studied, but not nearly enough to garner even decent grades for the semester. The effort just wasn’t there and I finished the semester with a 2.6, but now the numbers were in and I was ready to prove that I could succeed second semester.

Second semester brought much of the same only I had the extra challenge of taking classes with friends. First semester does not pose this problem because most freshmen don’t have the opportunity to pick classes with friends at that point in time. I took four classes in my turn-around semester and, surprise, three of my four classes were taken with friends from my floor in my dorm. In two of those classes, I would play Tetris, try and solve crosswords, and play Pokémon not even knowing why I even went to class in the first place (Pokémon even caused me to miss several classes because I had to build up my party so I could be better than my friend). The other saw me spending class in shame, getting yelled at by my TA because I wasn’t making sure my friend stayed awake in class (a really stupid excuse for a TA to get on someone’s bad side but nonetheless, my friend not being there would have avoided the problem). It shouldn’t come as a shock that my grades did not get better and instead got worse as I hauled in a solid 2.5 and went home for the summer with excuses upon excuses for my parents as to why I had such an awful year.

So the question is, what does it take to prevent these mistakes? My advice from this little anecdote is to actually take your studies seriously and do not assume by any means that college classes will be a breeze. Actually take the time to read textbooks your freshman year and focus on whatever it is that a professor is trying to teach you. I know that most classes a freshman will take are general classes that most people don’t want to do, but a good GPA your freshman year is paramount down the road. Getting into specific majors, internships, and programs will require a decent GPA that a poor freshman year will prevent. When picking classes, do not take classes with your friends, especially those from your dorm. I guarantee that social time and fun are to be had after classes are done for the day. People just need to unwind and won’t want to be doing homework or studying all night, so why would needing extra time with those people in class help the cause? My advice is to just do your own thing and worry about getting good grades. A social life is not hard to have in college, but good grades and a good work ethic are. Just make sure to remember why a college education is important and that will help to carry you guys through the year. If I could go back to my freshman year and change some things, I definitely would. I loved my social life and wouldn’t trade that for the world, but I would definitely sacrifice some of that fun for some decent grades to help out my GPA. When it comes to our futures as college students we all need to be a little selfish, and if you can avoid these pitfalls while thinking about yourself, that selfishness will carry you a long way.

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