My Top 5 Biggest Regrets From First Semester Of College

We all have those embarrassing college stories, the majority it seems stemming from our freshman year.  It’s good to have something to laugh about later, but some embarrassing things are totally avoidable, as you are about to see below.

As a second semester freshman, I’m ready to share with you my most regrettable actions from first semester so hopefully you can come up with some better ones when it’s your turn!

Bright lights, unfamiliar faces, and anxiety out the ying yang.

Sound scary?  To me, it sounds just like my first semester of college.  Not to fear though, you can avoid all of this and start your college career smooth sailing by simply knowing what to avoid doing during your first semester.  (Of course, if you’re already on this website, you’re a step ahead of where I was at this time last year!)

Now that I’m three weeks into my second semester at the University of Illinois, I am (not so proudly) willing to share with you the things I regret the most from first semester.

  • Ignoring the syllabus.

For some horrible reason, I had the audacity to believe that the syllabi were jokes and generally said the same thing no matter what course or professor it came from.  FALSE BELIEF.  Class policies differ greatly, especially in regards to absences, late work, and test-taking policies.

I spent an entire exam period awkwardly sitting on my calculator after watching the girl in front of me have her calculator and test confiscated and receiving a 0 on the first exam of the year!  If I had read the syllabus though, I would’ve known that only TI-84 calculators were banned from use, and I could have made the test a lot easier by using my allowed calculator!  Even more, some professors throw in information found on the syllabus on exams.

  • Staying up too late.

New friends, late night pizza runs, and unestablished study habits.  What’s missing?  My mother, not there to tell me I should be sleeping!  Granted, the first semester is all about establishing new friendships, but do yourself a favor and make sure it doesn’t interfere with your academic life too much!

Chances are, your first semester will be your easiest academically, but toughest emotionally as you begin living on your own.  The only way to lighten this challenge is by getting adequate sleep!

  • Concentrating too much on changing my major.

After just a few weeks in a class geared towards my major, I was ready to switch majors.  I had the paperwork and the approval from my advisor.  And then, on the last day of classes, a final project presentation sparked my interest and I re-fell in love with my major.

Moral to the story: don’t abandon your major during your first semester.  You’re too preoccupied with adjustments and other distractions to make the call that early-on.  Give it at least 2 semesters before calling it quits!

  • Going home too early.

Ask any freshman. Going home too early is the biggest regret we have.  Labor Day presents itself as the “perfect” time for you to pack your bags for a quick trip home, but for what?  There’s an unspoken rule that upon going off to college, you should not come home for at least 6 weeks to give yourself time to adjust.

Why is going home early so bad?  You’re trying to adjust to a new lifestyle, and by going home you throw off the new schedule you’re just starting to establish, making it even harder to adjust once you come back to campus (and completely restart the adjustment period).  So do yourself a favor and stay on campus for at least 6 weeks.  I promise it really isn’t that bad.  You’ll be super busy anyways!

  • Being too desperate to get my textbooks ASAP. 

Towards the end of the summer, online lists appeared, showing what books and materials I needed for my classes.  Immediately I feared that if I didn’t show up to the first day of class with these books, I’d be the girl who didn’t know the easy answer to the first question.

As my fears turned into something resembling a scene from Legally Blonde, I bought every book I could, ignoring the opportunities to buy used books or rent them.  My bill added up quickly.  Even worse, many of the books I showed up to class with ended up being the wrong edition or were books I never used.

Learning from this mistake, this semester I waited for classes to start before buying books, and took the extra time to RENT or buy used ones, cutting my book bill in half!

And there you have it, everything I would tell any incoming freshman to look out for as they start their first semester of college!  Remember, you have at least 8 semesters to get it right, so don’t worry about being perfect the first time around!

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Kaitlyn Taylor

Kaitlyn Taylor

Kaitlyn Taylor is a freshman at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism and a minor in Spanish. She comes from a small farm town of 1,000 in West-Central Illinois, making the transition to a large campus challenging. At school Kaitlyn is involved with the University’s Women Glee Choir, and also sings in her Church choir and is involved with her residence hall’s Resident Board. She enjoys writing, biking, and volunteering.
Kaitlyn Taylor

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