10 Biggest Threats to College Success and How to Avoid Them
Pinpointing the threats to college success is something you definitely want to do sooner rather than later. If you know what to expect, you know how to avoid them. And as if the step up in responsibility and merit isn’t enough, you’re going to have a lot of things coming your way that you might not have previously prepared for.
In the following article, we’ll be studying the 10 biggest threats at length and giving you a game plan for how to deal with them. Let’s begin!
1. Toxic Relationships
Toxic relationships are generally thought of in the romantic sense, but that’s only a fraction of how they can manifest. In reality, any relationship that you have, from friendships to roommates to significant others, can get in the way of your college success story. It’s important that you set the boundaries early on for each type of relationship that you encounter.
Ways that you can do that include being direct with people about how you operate. If you need to get 8 hours of sleep per night instead of partying with friends on the weekdays, make sure they know that. If your boyfriend or girlfriend pressures you to do too much out of your comfort zone or spend too much time together, draw the line when you first feel that tug to do so. Remember that no one owns your body and your preferences but you. No one else has a right to your time.
2. Partying Too Hard
One bad night of partying per week can quickly put you on a path towards flunking a class. From there, it becomes a domino effect that can impede the progress you are making in other classes. Don’t let the pull of “experience” get in the way of the reason you’re going to college in the first place.
Ways you can avoid this include having a list of excuses as to why you can’t go partying drawn up in advance; being direct that that is not your purpose; or politely refusing but dropping in a time when you can later hang out. Your friends might be disappointed that you’re not going out with them, but they will be open to catching up with you later.
3. Letting Yourself Go
The dreaded “Freshman 15” refers to the 15 pounds of weight that supposedly all college freshmen gain when going away to college. While it’s not quite as prevalent these days as it used to be — thank you fitness apps and all we know about personal care — it can sneak up on you. After all, you’re probably not as active as you were in high school, and body metabolism falters year after year.
Ways to avoid the Freshman 15 include working out during hours that are realistic for your schedule. Also, you need to avoid overdoing it if working out is too much of a challenge. This breeds frustration and can cause you to quit altogether. Start where you are comfortable and gradually increase your efforts. Last but not least, track those calories, don’t eat more than you burn, and make sure you’re eating the right kinds of foods. All this matters to your college success because if your body performs better, your mind will follow suit.
4. Not Studying Enough
College is not as easy as high school. At least, it isn’t if you’re doing it right. You need to pick a major that challenges you beyond your talents while still falling in line with the areas you excel. That means studying should never be optional.
Ways to avoid studying becoming that way include the following: choosing a study group for each class where you’re all carrying your weight; using timers to get in the flow of studying; picking the right type of environment to study in (clean, free from distractions); and focusing most of your study time on the areas that are giving you the most trouble.
5. Studying Too Much
Believe it or not, there can come a point where you’re studying too much. If you feel like you’re putting in more hours than you’ve ever put in, if you’re pulling all-nighter after all-nighter, and you’re still not seeing the results you’re hoping for, then you probably are. The results of studying too much are diminishing returns, getting burned out with your major, and maybe even dropping out of school. Don’t let it happen to you.
Ways to get around studying too much include scheduling your study time in advance; pulling yourself away for a break when you’re still “on a roll” or after 30 minutes to an hour; and changing up your approach to learning the material (i.e., watching videos, listening to podcasts, reading books, talking to your professor regarding specific questions). Remember that your brain is a tool like anything else, and it can be overworked. Give it a rest when it’s telling you it needs one.
Procrastination has probably been haunting you all your life if you’re anything like us. There is a tendency to think that due dates are far enough in the future that you can “put it off until tomorrow.” The only problem with this is that that proverbial tomorrow eventually becomes a literal tomorrow, and then you’re left having to do a ton of work overnight (usually shoddily) in an effort to not get a 0%.
Ways to defeat procrastination include being aware of it when you’re doing it; scheduling work and study time (once again); and getting a partner to hold you accountable (perhaps someone in your class or study group who is counting on you to meet them for a study session). Procrastination can also be used to your advantage. You can do this by putting off the less pressing matters to focus first on the big assignments. Without large projects and looming deadlines on the horizon, it becomes much easier to get around to those smaller tasks and get caught up on everything later.
7. Working Too Much
It is understandable if you have to get a job to work your way through college or to have some extra spending money so you can take a break and have fun. That’s definitely not something you want to borrow money for, anyway. But at the end of the day, you’re going to college to learn and get on a career path that will lead you to success. You’re not going to earn minimum wage at a grocery or hardware store.
Always circle back to your priorities. Remind yourself routinely why you are there. Be willing to work part-time, but think twice before taking extra shifts. Unless the part-time job is a direct gateway to what you want to do for the rest of your life, it is a back-burner item that you can afford to lose. That doesn’t mean to be irresponsible with your obligations as an employee. It just means to not let it horde in on the reason you’re going to school in the first place.
8. Bad Roommates
A bad roommate can really crimp your style. They can create a workspace that isn’t conducive to your studies. They can bring in bad influences that lead to poor study conditions, threatening behavior, or general annoyance. These are people you’re living with day-in and day-out during the semester, usually in close quarters. You better believe they can get in the way of your college success if you let them.
If you feel like you’ve gotten a hold of a bad roommate, there are options: request a roommate transfer as soon as you get a bad vibe; work with another student in the dorm to switch rooms if you think that it would be a mutually beneficial arrangement; move in with a friend or relative off-campus; or spend most of your important study time at the library, coffee shop, or somewhere else that makes it easier to focus.
9. Going Home Too Often
Homesickness is a very real thing for many college students. Believe it or not, some people actually like where they come from! But if you’re trying to move forward and find your place in the world, you owe it to yourself to explore other locations before settling back on your roots. See what the world has to offer. Especially if you’re from a small town, you cannot possibly know if you have the best opportunities until you’ve had the chance to be free on your own.
Ways to avoid going home too often: make plans to hang out with friends on the weekend; get a part-time job that doesn’t allow you to go home so much; ask your parents or guardians to hold you accountable by not allowing you to come home more than once a month; or carpool your trips with a friend from home that you still keep in touch with so you don’t have all the time in the world to spend at home and you have someone to hold you accountable.
10. Not Challenging Yourself Enough
Picking a major that’s too easy, something where the job demand is low, is a way of not challenging yourself enough. As a general rule, feeling as if college is super-easy is a tell-tale sign that you took the easy way out and likely won’t reap the return on your investment that you’re hoping to see.
Ways to avoid this include going for majors that challenge you to think and stretch beyond your limits. That doesn’t mean do something completely after your skill or talent set. It just means to explore the career paths within those majors that don’t come as easily to you.
These Threats to College Success Can Trip You Up Both Now and Later
We hope that you can become more mindful of the lurking threats to college success every day. The more that you think about them, the more likely you’ll be to avoid them. Good luck as you embark on this journey. The more you challenge yourself, the more successful you will be in the long run. It’s entirely up to you and the paths you choose, the decisions you make!
[Featured Image by University Business Magazine]