Making These 9 Mistakes in College Could Cost You Your Degree Marketing and Communications | October 3, 2023 As a new or prospective college student, what worries you most? Avoiding academic mistakes in college? Avoiding common college pitfalls? Regardless of how you answer this question, you’re not alone. Everyone worries about common college mistakes and how to avoid them. You can’t let that fear control your actions, however. College success tips may help. At Carson-Newman University, we’ve compiled a list of the top nine college mistakes most students make as they begin earning their degrees. We hope students find these college career preparation strategies helpful – maybe you’ll even be able to avoid one or all of these pitfalls. 1. Choosing the Wrong Major What’s the number-one most important factor to keep in mind when choosing a college major? Many students could cite an entire list, including job outlook, projected salary and benefits. However, none of these should hold the top position. In reality, what matters most is whether the major you choose aligns with your interests and strengths. This is where academic planning for students becomes invaluable. According to a report released by ACT, Inc, the company that designs and administers the American College Test, many students fail to take personal interests, strengths and weaknesses into account when selecting their major. As a result, they either become stuck in a career they hate or they end up changing majors halfway through and taking an extra year or more to earn their degree. Before choosing a major, research college major decision tips and look up the types of jobs available in the field. If you can’t see yourself happy in those positions, it may be a clue you’re selecting the wrong major. 2. Poor Time Management Unfortunately, many students struggle with managing their time effectively, especially during freshman year. If this describes you, try researching time management techniques for students. You will find a wealth of useful information out there, including helpful apps such as: Focus Booster myHomework Evernote These can help you learn to prioritize tasks from most-important to least-important or by the date when projects are due. Understanding which projects demand the most time and when to prioritize them is the definition of effective time management for students. These time-management skills are integral to developing career readiness during college. 3. Neglecting Mental and Physical Health Wellness tips for college students include making time for eating and sleeping. It may feel as though you have a whole lifetime to catch up on sleep, but sleep deprivation impairs your judgment and may cause you to lose focus when you need it most. The National Sleep Foundation recommends no fewer than seven to nine hours of sleep each night. It’s also necessary to balance your college workload with enough downtime to make it all feel worthwhile. You can find helpful student mental health tips at Mental Health America, which recommends activities such as keeping a gratitude journal or eating an occasional piece of dark chocolate when you begin feeling that midday fade. Healthy habits for college students begin with taking care of your mind and body. 4. Overextending With Extracurriculars We understand: It’s your first time away from home, and you plan to spend it well. However, consistently overextending yourself is a recipe for burnout. Joining the basketball team, cheerleading, signing up for student council, and holding down a part-time job are all commendable actions, but choose one or two instead of trying to sample everything all at once. After all, balancing academics and extracurriculars is part of managing your time well. 5. Not Building a Professional Network Thinking about college as merely an academic endeavor would be a mistake. You must balance classwork and extracurriculars with networking, so be sure to take advantage of college networking opportunities. Building a professional network in college is vital. Not only can friends and acquaintances help you get through those marathon study sessions, but they may benefit you years after graduation, as well. Knowing people in the industry you decide to pursue can only help down the road when you need a job reference or an inside line on a coveted job opening. 6. Procrastination and Last-Minute Work Putting things off until the last minute can land you in a bind if something unexpected happens. For instance, imagine putting off studying for your final until the day before the test and then coming down with a record-breaking migraine that wrecks your plans. Breaking this habit, though, can be a real challenge. It’s important to realize that procrastination, at least of the chronic variety, is deep-seated. Overcoming procrastination in college will only be possible if you first learn to deal with the emotions that are causing it, which have been described as inabilities to deal with negative feelings or overwhelming fears. In other words, the immediate gratification you derive from doing something more enjoyable than the dreaded task at hand is its own reward. There are steps you can take to overcome chronic, debilitating procrastination, such as setting small, attainable goals or seeking help from a therapist. If you tend to put off important tasks until they become crises, utilizing these resources may help. 7. Ignoring Financial Responsibility Financial responsibility for students is a major concern. For this reason, it’s vital to take charge of your finances from an early age. Learning how to build credit and ensuring you have enough money for necessities such as food, housing and tuition is key to success in college. Make sure to use credit cards sparingly, and do your best to pay the full balance each month. Carrying a credit card balance from month-to-month is an excellent way to find yourself in crippling credit card debt. Budget for unexpected expenses when possible, and be sure to set a little money aside each week when you can. College financial planning is great practice for learning how to manage your finances once you begin your career. 8. Disregarding Career Preparation Your degree may take you far when it’s time to apply for that dream position, but you shouldn’t ignore other preparatory steps, like learning how to craft a powerful resume and practicing your interview skills. It’s always a good idea to take a course in resume writing or to stop by your college resource center for help with things like learning how to dress for success, prepare for interviews, and craft a compelling resume. 9. Not Seeking Help When Needed Do you find it difficult to reach out for help when you’re stuck? So do many of us. You shouldn’t let this deter you, however. Everyone needs a boost now and then, and the sooner you master seeking help in college, the more natural the act will become. This is also a skill that will benefit you well in your future career. Toughing it out on your own when you’re lost or overwhelmed can lead to big miscommunications in the business world. It’s always better to ask for clarification or help when you need it. Learn more about opportunities at Carson-Newman! Carson-Newman University is a Christian-based liberal arts university that offers a comprehensive range of degree programs. It’s our mission to provide a top-quality education to students and to help prepare them to meet the needs of future employers. Learn more by contacting one of our friendly and knowledgeable admission advisors today.