From student health to study habits: What not to do when starting the new school year

Start the new yearYou got through the first semester – phew! But another semester is looming. Friends, parents, and older siblings who have done it all before are hammering you with advice on how to handle dorm life, student health, study habits, avoiding plagiarism, and mental health awareness. To avoid causing yourself unneeded stress this semester, here are six things not to do:

6. Forget everything you learned last year

Spring semester is a good time to learn from mistakes, identify what worked and what didn’t in your academic and social life, and to adjust and make changes. Don’t stress and become anxious over things that didn’t work: loud parties so you couldn’t study, homesickness, or classes that were too difficult. Take a deep breath and reflect on ways you can change some of those things. Use your successes and failures to develop better study habits, and focus on mental health awareness so you can function well in college and enjoy the experience.

5. Cheat

Feel like last semester was too much work? Don’t think: “I’ll just pay someone to write my papers,” or “I’ll copy a term paper off the Internet.” These may sound like easy ways out, but cheating will cause you so many more problems later on. Avoiding plagiarism is vital to your future success. “Many students simply do not grasp that using words they did not write is a serious misdeed,” wrote Trip Gabriel in the New York Times article “Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age,” on August 1, 2012. Young adults today grew up downloading music and cutting and pasting photos and text for their social media sites. More significantly, “the number who believed that copying from the Web constitutes ‘serious cheating’ is declining,” wrote Gabriel. But plagiarism remains a serious offense at the university level and beyond — making the choice to cheat can impact the rest of your college career.

4. Annoy the professor

You’re in college to learn, so don’t step on your professor’s last nerve. Take a serious academic attitude and practice good study habits. Show up on time for class and look enthusiastic for the learning experience. “Disregard or apathy is a big pet peeve of most college professors. Not paying attention in class, not doing your work or turning in papers, not listening to instructions, and not participating in lectures are all easy ways to irritate a professor,” advised a contributor to in the November 30, 2012 article, “What Not to Do: Common Pet Peeves of College Professors.”

3. Hide in your room

Dorm life and campus life are big parts of college life. Sure, you’re packed into a small space with a roommate (hopefully an accommodating one), but nothing says you’re stuck there. Make friends, participate in clubs, join a sports team, act in a play, host a radio show, get a part-time campus job or write for the school newspaper. Extracurricular activities help you become a more social and well-rounded person.

2. Let yourself go

Eating all you want from the cafeteria, gaining the dreaded “Freshman fifteen” pounds and partying hearty all night long are all ways to hurt your body, mind and self-esteem. Just because you’re away from pestering parents and diligent coaches doesn’t mean you can ignore all their good advice. Eat a healthy diet (sweets and pizza are fine in moderation), drink responsibly and work exercise into your schedule (jog around the campus a few times a week or use the gym). These tips will give you energy for your body and keep your brain perky for class. Other advice: “For the busy college student, [GatorWell Health Specialist Shannon] Kirkpatrick suggested preparing items such as soups and chilis during the weekend and storing them in the freezer for later use,” reported Maria Galindo in “Healthy Eating for the College Student,” February 16, 2012.

1. Go it alone

If you’re stressed out and suffering the college blues, don’t feel like you’re the only one and you have to suffer in silence. Talk to someone — a friend, a teacher, a coach, a parent, a religious leader or a doctor. College is not like high school, home life or work life. It’s an experience all its own. You might feel the need to share your concerns and issues with others, talk out ways to cope and find a nurturing and supportive shoulder to lean on.

6 replies
  1. Cloves Cook says:

    How about some insight/ideas on dealing with an online program that refuses to help in finding internships for its students?

  2. Luz Buitrago says:

    While this tips are helpfull, people need to remember that nowadays there is a great number of older students entering and continuing their college education. It would be nice to have information that is not oly geared to freshmen and young adults. Older students need some guidance is several areas also, for example, how to jugle with schoold, home and work, all at the same time. How to cope with the stress of being in a classroom with younger students, where sometimes, even the teacher is younger than you, etc.

    • CengageBrain
      CengageBrain says:

      Thank you for your feedback, Luz. We always appreciate hearing what our readers are interested in learning about. We’ll keep these suggestions in mind for future blog posts!

    • Gisela says:

      I agree. I am in my 40’s and a full-time student. It can be overwhelming to take care of home, family and work also. I’m learning to live with a not-so-perfect house. Although I don’t have children living at home now, I do feel I am ignoring my spouse. He’s very supportive however we have little free time together. The hardest thing for me to deal with is that I am older than most of the other students parents!


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