By Alyssa Abel
University is an opportunity to learn more about yourself while you’re making memories. You can meet lifelong friends, enjoy wonderful experiences and find the path to your future. That said, it's also essential to prioritise your progress and productivity, practise discipline and build good habits you can carry into adulthood. Avoid these common student pitfalls and turn them into positive choices instead.
For those in first year, this newfound freedom can lead to challenges and habits that need to change, especially when it comes to your coursework. That's why it's essential to develop a good mindset from the start.
Here are five bad habits to avoid — and what to do instead — to put you on the right track as a student.
1. Skipping classes
When you have to wake up at 6.30am every Monday for statistics, it's very tempting to snooze the alarm. You should remember that you don't pay thousands of dollars each year to never attend your lectures. It's okay to miss a class when you're sick or away, but try not to turn those instances into habits. When you skip, you can't always keep up with the notes. Plus, your tutor may remove points that impact your overall grade. Sticking to a bedtime routine every night will help you wake up refreshed and ready for class.
2. Partying too much
For most students, university offers a chance for new experiences. These adventures often include alcohol and parties, which may lead to poor decisions. When you're underage, it can seem even more fun because it's risky. While it's fine to have a few drinks on the weekend, it's crucial to avoid bars and parties throughout the week. Remember, having fun is fine, but you’re here to earn an education — not to party. That said, you shouldn't denounce these events altogether‚ even if you’re at home. If you don't decompress every so often, you'll feel stressed and overwhelmed. Balance matters. Just make sure you put your school and work-related responsibilities above social pressure and drinking — and be safe.
3. Trying to study while distracted
When you're a student, it often feels like you're always on the move. You may want to multitask to save time, but it's smart to avoid distractions, especially when you need to study. Many students think they can crack the books while they watch TV. Unfortunately, it can take up to 25 minutes to return to the task at hand once your mind wanders. It's best to leave entertainment for later.
You can avoid this bad habit when you create a schedule for your coursework. This way, you can dedicate a few hours to complete your assignments and do whatever you like for the rest of the night.
4. Going home too often
For new students who have moved to a new area for their course, this point remains a top contributor to a poor university experience. When you visit home too often, it takes away from your time to practise independence, build your own routine and become self-sufficient. Plus, you may not be able to concentrate on schoolwork when you're with family.
Of course, you don't need to stay at school for the entire year. You're free to visit your loved ones as often as you please, but it's crucial to remember that now is also the time to stand on your own. Try to limit your visits to a reasonable frequency – and complete your assignments before you make the trip.
5. Missing office visits
If your tutors offer weekly office visits (online or in person), remember to sign up for a slot. You may not need to attend every time, but it's always nice to have that option. These appointments with your teachers can help you understand materials so you're ready for class. You can clarify projects, review tests and more.
You should always get to know more about your teachers. When you graduate, they'll happily supply you with connections and resources to land a job. Push yourself to take advantage of their assistance, even if you're nervous to ask questions.
Alyssa Abel is a college and career writer with a special interest in student life and health. Read more of her advice on her blog, Syllabusy.