Your Guide to Surviving College by Avoiding These Bad Habits

One of the most burdensome things about college life is just being able to go through the academic years. The newfound adult responsibilities might seem overwhelming for most students, and they often feel unprepared. You might enjoy the freedom, but it can be painstaking to juggle social life, academics, and personal life.

Regardless, growth and development are a must and are always accompanied by challenges. Therefore, surviving college depends on your ability to drop some habits, develop new ones, and avoid some. So, what are some of the bad habits you must avoid if you are to go through college successfully? Keep reading to find out.

1. Substance Abuse

Surviving college life will depend on how you stay clear of drugs. It’s no secret that college students experiment with all manner of substances for various reasons. According to a survey conducted by the American Addiction Centers, about 53% of college students aged 18-22 drank alcohol every month. Another 20% reported using marijuana, according to the National Institute of Health.

While alcohol and some drugs may be legal, they are still detrimental to you if you’re to pass your exams and graduate. Yes, a one-time use of alcohol might not affect your academics. However, substance use and abuse are always a slippery slope. It only takes a few weeks to become a habit, and before you know it, you’re hooked.

The effects of substance abuse on your mental and physical health can hinder your academic performance and overall well-being. In fact, it can cause disorders that are hard to beat. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, alcohol is a significant factor in suicide cases. If you’re to survive college, keep away from drugs altogether. And if you’ve already fallen into the trap, seek alcohol abuse therapy and support groups.

2. Drunk Driving

Another tip for surviving college is to avoid drunk driving. As a young person, it’s easy to get tempted to drink and drive, especially when you have friends over. But the reality is that it can lead to fatal accidents.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roughly 32% of all fatal traffic crashes in the U.S. involve drunk drivers. As a young person with a future and dreams ahead, you shouldn’t be part of these statistics. Therefore, don’t risk ruining your future by getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.

As much as you might try a few drinks with friends, drunk driving is not worth the risk. It will not only jeopardize your safety and those of others on the road, but it can also lead to legal trouble and land you in jail. Plus, a Driving Under the Influence lawyer, also known as a DUI attorney, is not cheap.

If you must drink, stick to public transport or have a designated sober driver. Your safety, and that of others, is not worth sacrificing for a few hours of fun. Besides, college is not just about partying; there are other ways to have fun and make friends without risking your future.

3. Speeding

Another bad habit that many college students are guilty of is speeding. You will need to suppress your need for speed to survive college. If injuries don’t scare you, the possibilities of dyeing should. According to the Department of Transportation, there were 12,330 fatalities caused by speeding crashes in 2021. That’s about 29% of all traffic-related fatalities that year.

In short, speed kills. If you don’t die, you might end up with disabling injuries. The consequences of traffic accidents have a staggering toll of disabilities. Despite the sobering death statistics, there are more than 50 million injuries each year, according to the National Institute of Health. If you are lucky not to get injured, you could injure other motorists or pedestrians. Consequently, you might end up in court, facing criminal charges.

If you’re lucky enough not to injure anyone, the property damage can ruin your finances and future. If you are at fault, the opposing motor vehicle accident attorney will try to squeeze every dollar out of you. They are relentless and persistent and will do everything possible to ensure you don’t get away with it.

Therefore, surviving college includes obeying traffic laws. The few seconds you save speeding is not worth risking your future. If you’re running late, leave early the next time or find alternative means of transportation.

4. Smoking

Movies and music make smoking look cool, but it’s not a habit you should pick up if you’re to survive college. Smoking is detrimental to your body and can hinder you from achieving your academic goals. It might seem an inexpensive habit, but it might cost you in the long run.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is responsible for about 480,000 deaths each year in the United States alone. It causes diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These illnesses can affect your academic performance and overall well-being.

Moreover, smoking can cause tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. Dentist appointments and treatments are expensive and can take up valuable time that you could use for studying. It can also lead to premature aging, affecting your self-esteem and confidence. The social stigma associated with smoking might also hinder you from making new friends or pursuing specific opportunities.

Most of these complications are preventable if you keep off smoking. Surviving college includes never starting smoking in the first place. If you’re already a smoker, quit for your health and academic success.

5. Not Cleaning

Surviving college includes being responsible and taking care of your environment. Now that you’re no longer a teenager, cleaning will fall on your shoulders. You have to clean your clothes, room, dishes, and yourself.

Neglecting to clean up after yourself leads to unsanitary living conditions. It can even attract rodents and pests, which can pose health risks. Pests like cockroaches can contaminate your food with their droppings or carry diseases. They are not ideal roommates. Therefore, cleaning after yourself is a form of pest control.

Maintaining a clean living space positively affects your mental health and motivation. Firstly, it makes you organized, which is an excellent quality to have inside and outside the classroom. Also, your brain can’t function optimally in a cluttered environment. Lastly, the fresh air and clean space will boost your mood and energy.

Dirty college dorms, apartments, or shared living spaces are grounds for bacteria and germs. These contaminants are the leading cause of allergies and respiratory problems. Moreover, not doing laundry means running out of clothes to wear. It is embarrassing. Plus, no one wants to sit next to someone with a foul body odor.

6. Lack of Exercise

In college, you have to stay active to get that mojo going. The long classes, assignments, and other commitments can affect your physical well-being. However, surviving college includes factoring in time for exercise. Squeeze an hour or two of jogging, swimming, or dancing into your schedule. It doesn’t have to be a daily, but a few days per week.

Regular physical exercise has numerous body and mental benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, it controls weight, combats heart diseases, boosts your mood & energy, and promotes better sleep. These five things are the recipe for better mental health and academic success.

Besides, exercise is an excellent way to reduce stress and anxiety – two things that might be your constant companions in college. It’s no wonder about 44% of students in college had major depressive episodes, and another 37% reported having anxiety, according to the University of Michigan School of Public Health. You don’t want any of this affecting your performance.

An inactive lifestyle can also lead to joint problems and obesity. You can even find yourself needing chiropractic care to get rid of back pain, and that’s not cheap. To be safe, get involved in physical activities and stay fit. You can join sports teams, participate in intramurals, or even take yoga classes.

7. Skipping Class

Another tip for surviving college is to avoid skipping classes. One class can mean a lot and may contain what you need to pass an exam or understand a concept. Skipping classes means missing valuable lessons that might be challenging to catch up with later.

Furthermore, college lectures are expensive, and you’ve paid a lot of money to attend them. Therefore, skipping classes means wasting your money and time. Most students often have part-time jobs such as party catering or retail to earn some income. According to Forbes, some of these jobs pay as much as $22 per hour.

If you work at least three hours daily, you might have a few hundred dollars after a week. The income will cover a few bills, but it’s still not worth wasting thousands of dollars on those lectures. Plus, you are in college to learn and acquire skills that will give you better jobs than the ones you’re doing part-time. As much as you can, avoid skipping classes. You can take up any income-generating jobs later when you’re free.

In the worst-case scenario, skipping classes can also lead to disciplinary actions. That includes consequences such as probation or suspension. It’s not worth the risk when you’re trying to survive college. If you have a valid reason for missing a class, ensure you communicate with your professors in advance.

8. Procrastination

Time in college passes quicker than you think. If you’re a procrastinator, you will miss out and drag behind. Surviving college requires you to drop that bad habit.

You have a duty to yourself to complete assignments, read notes, and prepare for exams on time. If you postpone your responsibilities, you will find yourself trying to cram everything at the last moments. Such rush work leads to poor performance.

A study conducted by Florida State University showed that procrastinating students have lower grades. They also have a higher risk of dropping out compared to their peers. Procrastination hinders your ability to manage time. As a consequence, you end up missing deadlines for assignments or projects.

You need to have self-regulation. Whatever you plan to do, do it, and on time. If you’re a dentistry student, attend your practical lessons without postponing them. If you have research assignments, start gathering information early to avoid a last-minute rush.

9. Plagiarism

Plagiarism might not have been a problem in high school, but surviving college means dropping that habit of copying everything. In college, you must conduct extensive research for your assignments and projects. While most of your study involves reading other people’s materials, you should refrain from copying & pasting or spinning it as your own.

Plagiarism is a serious academic offense that leads to severe consequences. For example, you could fail your assignments or get expelled from school. College professors are experts at detecting plagiarized work, having read so much themselves. They also have various plagiarism-checking tools to weed out any work that is not original.

Moreover, plagiarism is unethical and goes against academic standards and values. According to a study conducted by the International Center for Academic Integrity, about 58% of college students admitted to plagiarism. It involved citing other people’s material without proper acknowledgment or paraphrasing. For instance, if you are an audiologist, ensure you cite your sources and give credit when using evidence-based research.

It’s inappropriate to pass other people’s work as your own. If you make it a habit, you will get caught and face harsh consequences. Just drop it.

10. Overspending

Another essential tip to college survival is managing your finances. You might have a part-time job, but you still must budget and spend wisely. Only spend what you can afford.

Usually, students get into trouble by spending money on things they don’t need, like expensive gadgets or clothes. College is temporary, and the world awaits you outside those walls. If you overspend on luxuries, you might end up in unnecessary debt and financial struggles after college.

Remember, you also have student debt that awaits you. According to CNN, the average student debt among all borrowers stood at $38,290 in 2023. There are also fines for late payments. You don’t need to overburden yourself with more debt. If it goes way beyond what you can afford to pay, you might have to seek a reputable bankruptcy law firm to help you out of it.

Instead of overspending, create a budget that caters to your essential needs, such as rent, groceries, and school supplies. Look for discounts or used textbooks to save some money. You can also cut down on other expenses such as eating out and parties.

Surviving college requires you to make some sacrifices and have discipline. These qualities will help you stay focused and achieve your academic goals. You don’t need to be a dropout for things you can control.

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