7 Amateur Screw-Ups For Freshmen To Avoid In College

Back to school.

You've waited all summer. You've packed your stuff as your parents rub their hands together, gleefully awaiting the moment when you leave the nest so they can turn your room into the most coveted symbol of adult success: the home office. You've got your school sweater, maybe even a pennant. You've got your housing packet, chock full of rules, regulations, suggestions, and admonitions not to make any noise after 10pm. You have a guide to the city you're moving to: local restaurants, cheap eats, grocery stores, and places to buy jersey cotton fitted sheets for your XL Twin mattress supplied at no additional charge by your educational institution. Your dining plan is good to go: you can smell the grilled and fried foods already. You've even garnered a reputation on that super-edgy-underground website that tells you what liquor stores don't card and what bars never get raided...

But guess what?

You're not ready. 

Yeah, yeah... you think you're ready. But you are not ready. Mistakes will be made. Embarrassments, both small and large, will be suffered. Regrets will flourish and by the end of your first year, frosh... you will hopefully have achieved both a touch of education and a healthy dose of wisdom.

Here are the mistakes you'll make your during your first year of college.


1. You will take a class that begins before 10am.

If you make it to that 8 or 9 am class AT all, it'll be during the first week or so. Chances are it'll be some ghastly core class that you ended up being forced to take because all the good time slots were filled by people who were far more obsessive than you: in other words, a class you don't want to go to anyway, let alone go to at 8am when your head is still swimming from whatever volatile purple chemical you drank out of a red cup the night before. 

Besides that, in the fall/winter, it'll mean snow and/or rain. You'll be demoralized, downcast, half-drowned. Schedule wisely, noob.

2. You'll go to class hungover... Or still drunk.

Yes, the professor can smell the vodka as it metabolizes from your tortured hide. Did you really think you were going to walk into class and not have people not only sense your agony, but remember the ridiculous shenanigans from last night that you've blacked out? Well, you were wrong. As the alcohol works its way through your system, your migraine will be replaced by a deep and painfully toxic shame.

It'll be gone in a day or two, but maybe you should drink less. You don't want to be that guy or girl.

3. You will forget that there is an exam/quiz/paper due... And you will pay for it.

If you make your professor or TA grade a paper AFTER they're finished grading, you can expect to suffer for it. Say goodbye to points or worse, a letter grade.

If you expect to be reminded that there's a quiz or a test, you'd be well-advised to think otherwise. Take pictures of your syllabus on your phone. Tape them to your walls. KNOW when those things are happening or you will eventually walk into a very nasty surprise. Better hope they grade on a curve and that everyone else forgot, too.

4. You'll hook up with the wrong person. Probably on Halloween.

If there's alcohol and a stranger involved... Yeah, it's the wrong person. 

Try to reduce the number of awkward moments in your life to zero.

5. You'll miss non-academic deadlines and be forced to deal with bureaucrats who will not be moved.

Application needed to be turned in by 5pm, not 5:01pm. Your tuition was due in full by cashier's check, not personal check. You were supposed to fill out the form online. We didn't have a number on file, so we couldn't tell you that the date had changed. You were supposed to bring in TWO copies of that.

You're going to run into people who are completely unforgiving when it comes to paperwork. You can't miss them: their skepticism could bring down a church. Their world-weary eyes have seen tears. Their tired ears have heard every excuse, every reason, every plea for leniency and mercy. They seem immovable, even though all they have to do is press a single button, make single call, or open a drawer.

Do. Not. Panic. Instead, be kind to them. Be apologetic. Don't make excuses: instead ask them for help. "Is there anything you could do to please help me out with this?" You'd be surprised: "please" goes a long way. They're human too.

6. You will fail to budget properly... And so you will be eating ramen.

Yes, you'll max your dining card. You'll burn through whatever money your folks give you. You'll stupidly spend your student loan check on drinks for your friends. The result? Two or more weeks eating amen or dollar pizza slices if you're lucky. 

Don't worry: it'll prepare you for work at a start-up.

7. You'll forget to explore.

This is your chance to step outside of your social boxes, to recreate yourself, to figure things out on your own, to do things that weren't possible in high school. So go join a club sport. Make friends from other countries and different backgrounds. Challenge yourself. That four years is going to blow by and once it's gone... well, it's gone. 

Learn your university's traditions. Sing the songs. Watch your football team get trounced every season. Explore the tunnels, climb the rooftops, make friends with the grumpy old security guy, have jello shots before finals (no, don't do that).

Leave your fears behind. This is the one time in your life where it's okay to occasionally screw up, try new things, and attempt to really make a go of getting up every morning and taking a run.

Hell, this may be the only time in your life that you can join an A Capella group... so make the most of it.

Don't forget to explore. Leave the neighborhood. Catch a train. Get away from campus. 



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