5 Mistakes You Made Last Semester & How to Fix Them

As each semester comes to an end, it’s only natural that we have a few regrets about how we spent it. Grades not up to our standards? Maybe we should have worked more (or partied less). Didn’t get to spend enough time with our friends? Maybe the decision to take 18 credits and work part-time was a little too much.



As collegiettes, every semester presents a new opportunity to start fresh. So HC has gathered five common mistakes that many college girls make every semester, along with some advice to make sure they don’t happen again.
 
The Problem: You weren’t involved enough. 

Every collegiette’s first semester of college is filled with an endless list of things to do: bonding with other students in the dorm, becoming accustomed to the difficulty of college level courses, and more. But once the initial freshman excitement wears off, you might find yourself just… bored! If you decided to take things slow and didn’t join a sorority, apply to join the school newspaper or take on a part-time job, you may begin to feel underwhelmed by the college experience.
 
The Solution:

There are numerous reasons why getting involved on campus can help you feel more connected with the university as a whole. Joining organizations can help you meet more people, develop career interests, take advantage of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, expand your interests beyond your particular major and—ultimately—just have more fun!
 
Phillip Smith, director of public relations and social media at Westwood College, suggests that students join clubs to connect with other students. “Participation in clubs can build skills, resumes and contacts. For example, student council builds civics skills, enrollment in honor societies looks great on resumes and participating in degree-related clubs builds relationships with other individuals you may meet again in your line of work,” Smith says.
 
Not sure where to start looking?

  • Attend your college or university’s club fair.
  • Keep your eyes open when you walk around campus for groups of students promoting organizations or flyers on bulletin boards.
  • Talk to your friends and see what they’re involved in.
  • Visit your school’s website and find a list of all the recognized organizations on campus.

Once you make the decision to join an organization, team or sorority, you’ll be happy that you have more to do than worry about your classes and lounge around the dorm.

The Problem: You were TOO involved.

Many overachieving collegiettes face problems when they become too involved in on and off campus activities. Erica Avesian, a collegiette from the University of Michigan, has witnessed this problem firsthand.
 
“I made the mistake of trying to do too much last semester,” Erica says. “I was taking 18 credits, in three student groups, writing for two publications and tutoring athletes. On top of all of this, I was going out two to three times a week. There was no such thing as ‘free time’ in my life.”
 
The Solution:                

Though being involved is great for your resume and your happiness, becomingtooinvolved can negatively affect your mental and physical health. This is how Erica learned that she needed to slow down. “I worked on all of my homework assignments/papers to the point of perfectionism. All of this hard work combined with my responsibilities and busy social life took a toll  on my health. I now know to let some things go next semester and stop trying to be Wonder Woman,” Erica says.
 
To avoid dealing with the same problem, make sure you prioritize! Creating a good work/life balance now will help you once you graduate from college and get out into the “real world.” So do some internal reflection. Make a list of your commitments and decide which ones you can reasonably drop and which you can’t. If you need to resign from an organization or student publication (or just resign from a leadership position in them), do so.  Remember, like almost everything in life, quality is more important than quantity! 

The Problem: You’re pulling too many all-nighters

We’ve all heard that pulling all-nighters is bad for our health. It can cause stress and lead to serious sleep disorders. But all-nighters also affect our academic performance. A 2010 study at St. Lawrence University in New York, led by professor of psychology Pamela Thatcher, found that students who pull all-nighters have slightly lower GPAs on average.
 
The Solution:

Many times pulling all-nighters in college can feel unavoidable. But there are certainly steps that you can take to achieve a greater work/sleep balance and ensure that health and academic performance don’t suffer:

  • Schedule everything. Don’t just assume that you’ll get your work done when you have time. Write down everything in your iCal or planner so you’ll know exactly when you can tackle it.
  • Over estimate the amount of time it will take you to complete a task. One of the biggest problems when it comes to all-nighters is that we don’t understand how much time it will take to finish something. If this happens to you, schedule more than enough time to get something done. Don’t assume you can crank that paper out in two hours, plan for five hours.
  • When in doubt, sleep! It’s not realistic to assume that you can work from 7 PM to 7 AM straight to get something done for your 8 AM class. So instead of trying to power through, go to sleep for a few hours and set your alarm. That way, you’ll be somewhat rested and more prepared to tackle your work.

The Problem: You’re ditching too many classes. 

Most of us are guilty of doing it: hearing our alarm go off at 7:00 AM on a Monday morning and deciding no Biology 101 class is important enough to pull ourselves out of bed and walk through the rain.
 
But there are many reasons why you should go. For one, you (or your parents) are spending an arm and a leg on your tuition and two, no amount of office hour appointments or textbook reading are going to make up for the fact that you didn’t show up to class. Professors aren’t really sympathetic about that.
 
The Solution

Figure out what works and doesn’t work for you and try to schedule your classes with this in mind. Briana, a student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, says she wishes she wouldn’t have scheduled 8 AM classes because she had a hard time getting up for them. “It is good to know your sleeping habits when you create your schedule and be honest with yourself about how often you will attend early classes,” Briana says.
 
Of course, it’s sometimes impossible to control when you have class. In this case, you may need to suck it up for one semester and imagine how much harder it’s going to be once you have a full-time job and have to be in the office from 8 AM to 5 PM (at least!)  everyday!
 

The Problem: You’re falling behind with homework and reading. 

We’ve all done it. The first and second weeks of the semester we’re excited about our new classes and eagerly do the readings (while taking detailed notes!). A couple of weeks later, we throw the books on our desk where they sit and collect dust for the rest of the semester while we try to justify our decision to give up on the readings (“The professor isn’t following the book anyway…”).
 
Unfortunately, this habit can lead to serious problems once midterms or finals come around. It’s completely understandable that you likely have tons of work to get done and little time to complete it, but it’s important that you find a solution to make sure you don’t dig yourself into a hole that you can’t climb out of.
 
The Solution

Start the semester by making a commitment to yourself that you will stay on top of your work, but do this in your own way. For example, if you know that you’re terrible at keeping up with the reading, decide that you will skim through the reading and take notes on the chapter summaries every week. By making even small changes like these, you will find that you feel more prepared for studying and taking exams.
 
Another way you can make up for your tendency to fall behind in reading is by actively participating in class sessions. If you fail to do the reading and spend the duration of the class checking out your ex’s Facebook photos, you’ll find yourself even more behind! So pay attention in class and answer questions and you may find that the reading isn’t even necessary!

Ultimately, the best way to make sure you don’t repeat last semester’s mistakes is by realizing what you can do better. Talk to your academic advisor or friends you look up to for advice as to how you can have your best semester yet!