Four pitfalls college students should avoid

Beginning college can be one of the most exciting, and scary, times in a student’s life.

Like everything else, there are right ways and wrong ways to approach campus life, and it helps to know ahead of time what behavior to avoid.

Here are four common mistakes new students make, according to college officials.

Bad time management

With no parents around for guidance, managing time is often a huge hurdle. It’s helpful for students to figure out how much time they need for each part of their lives, said Debbie Conner, vice president of campus life and student engagement at Coastal Carolina University in Conway.

“During orientation I show them a slide that says they basically have 168 hours in a week,” she said. Take out 49 hours for sleep (seven hours a night, a generous estimate for most students) and 15 hours for a full class load, and that leaves 104 hours, she said. Students who work part-time or full-time have even fewer hours.

“The important thing is for students to figure out how they are going to spend those hours well,” she said.

While academics are the main priority, students also need to make sure they allow time for other things important for a well-rounded life, such as attending church services or volunteering in the community.

And then of course there’s a little thing called rest.

“Time management needs to include personal time, taking time for yourself and doing something that you enjoy and that relaxes you, even if it’s something as simple as baking a batch of cookies,” said Liz Carmon, coordinator of marketing and communications at the Student Success Center at the University of South Carolina.

Lack of communication with faculty members

It doesn’t matter whether the class is a lecture hall filled with 300 students or a roundtable seminar of less than a dozen. Either way, getting to know the teacher and expressing concerns, when possible, can be a big help.

“Some students are afraid to talk to the professors, and that’s the wrong approach,” Conner said. “Make yourself be known and be engaged with your faculty so they know who you are. If you do that, they will be more apt to respond to any concerns and to help you if and when you need help.”

Carmon said most faculty members are open to talking with their students and learning about any problems they might have.

“Too many students think these instructors are in a different world, and they’re not,” she said. “They really do want to help their students succeed.”

Spending too much money

Student loan checks and credit card offers are two of the worst temptations that emerge.

Conner urges people to create a budget and stick to it. Allocate student loan funds or money from your paycheck to where it needs to go — tuition, books and other necessities. If you get a credit card, don’t max it out and pay the balance off each month.

Staying too attached to the folks back home

Thanks to smart phones and computers, too many young adults talk with or text message mom and dad and their old school friends four or five times a day.

“Students need to know they are holding on to a lot of things through that cell phone,” Conner said. “They’re so attached to old friends that they don’t make new friends on campus. Too many students today don’t have to solve their own problems because they immediately call their parents. They need to learn how to do things on their own.”