How Not to Make Stupid Decisions in College, Part 1

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Have you ever found yourself going into a new experience worrying that you’ll  totally mess it up?

For better or worse, fear of failure is one of the most common human anxieties. So, it’s no surprise that recent high school grads might worry that they’ll make stupid mistakes in college.

I’ve recently spent hours on the phone with a young woman who’s off to a liberal arts college in the midwest. Her frantic questions to me included:

What courses should I take first semester?

Do I want an advisor in my major, or outside of it?

Do I want to live in the same dorm with kids in my freshman seminar, or not?

Will I screw it all up if I make bad choices early on?

The common theme of all her questions was, “Will I screw it all up if I make bad choices early on?” And my answer to her is: no, you’ll be fine. As long as you pay attention to these 3 tips  to protect yourself from some typical freshmen woes.

Check out this video, and I’ll explain more about what I mean.

P.S. Now that you’ve watched the video, I need to add one thing: it’s actually quite healthy  to make a certain amount of mistakes in college…and in life! Some of the most wonderful experiences in my life (and my best ideas for my business) resulted from making a mistake first. But more about that later…

Was this helpful? Please forward it to others. Please feel free to comment below! If you’re a freshman-to-be, how are you feeling about college? If you’ve already been through college, how well did YOU know yourself when you first stepped foot on campus?

5 thoughts to “How Not to Make Stupid Decisions in College, Part 1”

  1. Wonderful, Gretchen! Very helpful and sharp. Wish I had known these things long ago.

  2. I first attended college (UT in Austin) in 1981 right out of high school. I didn’t know myself well at all back then. I was young and very naive. I wasn’t used to paying attention to what worked best for me. I had no idea about study strategies and time management, etc. I just thought I was supposed to do what everyone else was doing, and when I couldn’t keep up, I thought that I was a failure.

    I made several memorable mistakes back then, but one of the most costly ones was not taking advantage of the advising support and tutoring that was available. I was not comfortable asking for help back then. As a result, I struggled a lot to keep up with the increased work load and tons of reading that I just was not used to. I ended up dropping out after my Freshman year. There were other reasons for my dropping out that I won’t go into here, but I clearly was in over my head.

    I later returned to college many years later (much wiser of course) determined to overcome my challenges. I chose to take a study skills class AND to meet with school counselors throughout the year to keep myself on track. What a total turn around it was for me. And such a proud moment for me when I received my college diploma!

    What a dream it would have been when I was 18 to have someone like you Gretchen, holding my hand, helping me navigate through those rocky waters. I admire the work you are doing…what a beacon of light you are for young adults!

  3. You have such a lovely personality and it comes through well through your videos! I remember back when I first started seeing you that I was having major trouble with all of these executive functions. I still have trouble now and again with them, but overall, I’m doing much better because I now have systems in place to help me. I took this “know thyself” video to heart, because that was something that took me a while to learn, but is very helpful now that I can identify my shortcomings.

  4. Jeanette,

    Thanks SO MUCH for taking the time to tell your story. Wow!!! You know, even today MOST STUDENTS don’t take advantage of counseling services and the tutors on campus. It’s one of my biggest roles as a transition-to-college coach: to make sure young people are taking advantage of the amazing resources they’re offered on campus. It’s unfortunate that most kids associate asking for help with being stupid…

    I’m so glad to hear that the very things I preach — taking study skills classes and meeting with counselors — helped you turn your experience around. Yay you!!!

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