Embarking on your college journey as a freshman is exhilarating – the newfound freedom, exciting opportunities, and diverse experiences await you. However, this phase also brings along challenges that, if not navigated carefully, can have lasting impacts on your financial stability and overall college experience. From overspending pitfalls to credit score misconceptions, there are several crucial aspects that demand your attention. In this guide, we've compiled seven essential warnings to help you steer clear of common freshman mistakes and ensure a successful start to your higher education adventure.
Overspending: According to a survey conducted by LendEDU, nearly 40% of college students report spending more than their budget allows, with 10% saying they spend "a lot more" than their budget. Additionally, a survey by Sallie Mae found that the average college student spends $1,200 per year on textbooks alone.
Ignoring Financial Aid: According to a report by NerdWallet, around $2.6 billion in free federal grant money for college went unclaimed by students who were eligible in the 2018-2019 academic year.
Not Building Credit: A study by Experian found that the average credit score for people between the ages of 18 and 24 is 659, which is considered a fair score. Building credit early on can help students improve their credit scores and set them up for financial success in the future.
Skipping Classes: According to a study by the University of Texas at Austin, students who miss classes are more likely to receive lower grades and have a higher risk of dropping out. Additionally, some colleges have attendance policies that require students to attend a certain number of classes to remain eligible for financial aid.
Eating Out Too Often: A study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in 2019, the average American household spent $3,526 on food away from home. This can be a significant expense for college students who are already dealing with the high cost of tuition and other college-related expenses.
Not Using Campus Resources: A study by the American Council on Education found that students who use campus resources, such as tutoring and career services, are more likely to graduate on time and have higher GPAs.
Failing to Plan Ahead: A study by the University of California, Los Angeles found that college students who develop a schedule and set goals are more likely to achieve academic success than those who do not.
These statistics highlight the importance of being mindful of your finances, academics, and overall well-being as a freshman in college. By avoiding these common "gotchas" and taking advantage of the resources available to you, you can set yourself up for a successful college experience and beyond. Planning ahead is essential.
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Baines College Consulting, LLC
Donna has 20 years of college admissions and financial aid experience. She has helped thousands of high school students all over the United States with their college and career goals.