Is your child in the middle of her first semester at college? It's time to check in. Here's a rundown of 5 mistakes freshmen make and what parents can do to address them.
Mistake #1: Treating College Like High School
Parent Tip #1: Remind your child to start studying early.
One of the biggest mistakes students make during that jump from high school to college is thinking they can do college like they did high school. This usually includes cramming the night before a test, waiting until after dinner to do homework, writing a paper the day before it is due, and not preparing in advance for lessons. College is a level up from high school. Classes are more challenging, require more preparation, and move at a faster pace. Without proper preparation, it’s easy to fall behind quickly.
Mistake #2: Not Getting Involved On Campus
Parent Tip #2: Encourage your child to join one activity or club outside of the dorms.
Having a balanced social life is one of the more important components to college success. This can be challenging for college freshmen as they are adjusting to life away from home. It’s important for students to step out of their comfort zone and find clubs and activities that are of interest to them. There are countless opportunities to engage on campus, such as going Greek, joining an intramural sports team, becoming active in student government, or getting involved with a cultural or religious organization. The happiest students on campus are the ones who get involved and make friends outside of their dorm.
Mistake #3: Trying to Do Too Much
Parent Tip #3: Ask your child which evenings she sets aside for studying.
While some students struggle to get involved, others bite off more than they can chew. There are so many fun and interesting things to do on campus, some students struggle with narrowing down their social activities and overcommit. Finding time to fulfill all of these commitments usually takes away from time that may be better spent hitting the books. But students can't excel in their classes if they're out and about every night. Asking which nights your child plans to spend studying can refocus her attention.
Mistake #4: Waiting Too Long to Get Help
Parent Tip #4: Ask about mid-term exam grades.
All too often, students get low scores on tests and assume they will have plenty of time to bring up their grades. Rather than going to office hours or taking advantage of free tutoring on campus, they wait it out. When their next exam is just as low as their first, they suddenly scramble to try and dig themselves out of a hole. Learning to advocate for themselves can be a big adjustment for college freshmen. That often starts with a question from parents about mid-term grades.
Mistake #5: Choosing a Major for the Wrong Reason
Parent Tip #5: Keep an open mind about career possibilities.
Most college students change their majors at least once during their college careers. That’s because most students don’t know what they really want to do with their lives at the age of 18. Freshmen have plenty of time to take a few classes and discover their passions. The happiest people in the world are the ones who wake up every day and do what they love. Income matters, too, but that doesn't mean every student has to be a doctor, engineer, or lawyer. If your child tells you she wants to major in anthropology, you don't have to say no. Try ask her to visit the career center to explore internship possibilities.
Kim Girard is a college transition coach, author, youth speaker, and personal growth junkie who has a passion for helping teens and young adults live extraordinary lives.
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