The Jolt, the Web, the Bed: Three Habits to Avoid Freshman Year

You’ve formed habits your entire life. Some are good, like brushing your teeth twice a day or writing down homework assignments in a daily planner. Other habits can be detrimental to your health and well-being. As you revel in the freedom that college provides, remember that it can be a breeding ground for unhealthy habits. Here are three particularly negative habits I fell into during my freshman year, and a few ways to prevent them from becoming yours.

1. The Infamous “Cup of Jolt”

Before college, we never kept coffee in my house. My mom was a tea drinker, and I had never been fond of coffee’s bitter taste. When I got to college, it was a different story. After almost nodding off in my classes, I began to see coffee’s appeal. It quickly became something I depended on. I found myself drinking coffee every morning, regardless of whether or not I had an early class. This is an extremely unhealthy habit that many college students pick up. Staying up late, waking up early, and drinking coffee in order to stay awake during class can turn into a never-ending cycle. Coffee does more than just stain your teeth and give you bad breath. It’s an expensive habit that also has negative effects on your overall health. There is a high level of caffeine in coffee, which causes your body to become addicted to the stimulant. And, with every drop of cream or packet of sweetener you put in your cup, the calorie count soars. Instead of reaching for a coffee cup, try taking a short, 20 minute “power-nap” or get some fresh air after waking up in the morning.

2. The World Wide Web of Distraction

 Walking into my first college class, I immediately noticed the white, glittering screens dotting the lecture hall. Being from a high school that never allowed laptops in the classroom, I was ecstatic. “Goodbye, pen and paper,” I thought to myself as I eagerly opened my laptop. “You were too old school for me, anyway… Now I can take notes quickly, and download the PowerPoint to follow along…and…” My thoughts were suddenly cut off when a flashing window in the corner of my screen caught my eye. I had a new e-mail message waiting in my inbox. Just in case it was really important, I decided to click on it. And with that, I was trapped. Soon, it became second nature to “multi-task” in the classroom. I often had multiple screens open (the lecture notes and PowerPoint, along with my Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, etc). I wasn’t alone, either. Looking around, I would see the majority of the class on similar, if not the same, websites. This is an extremely easy pattern for students to fall into, but a dangerous one. The more attention you give to your social networking sites, the less attention you give to your professor and the class material. If you do decide to take notes on a laptop during class, don’t connect to the University’s Wi-Fi. That way, you won’t be tempted to open a new tab and wander off onto a different site. Also, sit towards the front of the room. It will be easier to pay attention to the professor when you’re close (and self-conscious about what your classmates may see when peering over your shoulder).

3. Sleeping the Day Away

With the power to plan your own schedule, it’s tempting to resist signing up for any class before noon. During my second semester of freshman year, I didn’t have class until 12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I absolutely loved the idea of gaining a few extra hours of sleep on these two days. Looking back, I realized that I had the wrong attitude about how I could be spending my morning hours. Instead of totally wrecking my sleep schedule by staying up late the night before and expecting to make it up by sleeping late the next day, I should have tried to wake up at the same time every day, regardless of when I had class. Then, instead of sleeping late, I would have had time to the hit the gym, grab breakfast with friends, or do some last minute studying before my first class. While there’s nothing wrong with scheduling your first class late in the day, resist the urge to fall into a habit of sleeping late. It doesn’t make you any more productive, and you’ll soon find yourself “sleeping the day away.”

While you may still manage to keep your grades afloat while falling into these habits, both your grades and overall health can be improved tremendously without them. And, while these habits are easy to fall into when you head off to college, being aware of them can make them easier to avoid.

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Emma Weissmann

Emma Weissmann

Emma Weissmann is a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pursuing a degree in News-Editorial Journalism with an interdisciplinary minor in Leadership Studies. Emma enjoys traveling, trying new foods, and snuggling up on the couch with her cat, “Louie.” She also spends her time volunteering and hanging out with family and friends.
Emma Weissmann

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