College is unlike any other time in your life. You get to make all your own choices, buy your own groceries, and really just figure out what being a semi-adult is all about. But while your parents (hopefully) prepped you for living solo, there are a few things you shouldn’t be doing in college to get the most from your years at school.

1. Sticking to your comfort zone


Photo by Hannah Cooper

Easily the most important piece of advice. If you go through college without trying new things, you’re not going to grow as a person, which is basically the entire point of going to college (well, that and the education part of it). For some, stepping out of their comfort zone means studying abroad. If moving across the ocean isn’t for you, go rock climbing for the first time or join a new club. Just go out and do something exciting and new.

2. Counting your calories


Photo by Rachael Ankley

If the freshman 15 happens, let it happen. If you focus on fueling your body with wholesome foods then the number of calories doesn’t matter. Focusing solely on the little number on the side of a package is literally the worst thing you can do to your self-esteem in college, so don’t make the mistake of letting your food control your life.

3. Eating out every night


Photo by Claire Waggoner

Remember what I just said about eating wholesome foods? Right, that’s actually important. Besides the fact that eating out can become an incredibly unhealthy habit, it’s nowhere near as much fun as cooking your own meals. Next time you and a friend want to grab some Chinese food, find a recipe online and give it a whirl. If it’s a disaster, you can always order takeout, but if it’s good you’ll feel like a total champ.

4. Hanging out exclusively with friends from high school


Photo by Caroline Grew

We’ve all been there: it’s your first week on campus, you’re totally overwhelmed and just need someone familiar to calm you down. Totally fine. Forgetting to make new friends and hanging out only with people you knew before college? Not cool. There are so many awesome students on a college campus so get to know them.

5. Freaking out about finding a boyfriend/girlfriend


Photo by Suyi Li

Been there, done that, so not worth it. Fun fact: you have an entire life to live after you graduate. If you leave college without a significant other, you’ll be fine, trust me.

6. Compromising your morals


Photo by Natsuko Mazany

Excuse my soapbox moment, but it has to be said. If there are beliefs or morals you want to uphold in college, do it. You might feel pressured at times to compromise on what you believe in but stick to your guns. As long as you respect others’ decisions, they’ll (hopefully) respect yours.

7. Buying only the absolute cheapest foods


Photo by Jaye Lind

“Broke college student” isn’t some hipster label, it’s a real thing (and I know I’m not alone in this). While it’s tempting to buy only the off-brand sale items at the grocery store, don’t forget to treat yourself now and then. Buying a block of hella fancy cheese once a month won’t break your bank, and it’ll likely do you more good than harm in the long run.

8. Assuming college will be the “best years of your life”


Photo by KT Norton

What a load of phooey. College should be amazing, yes, but why does the awesome part of our life have to be confined to four short years? Dream big and don’t forget to make room for all the cool adventures you’ll have post-graduation.

9. Comparing your journey to others’


Photo by Mara Donoghue

Whether it’s swapping grades or panicking about having no summer internship, don’t ever compare yourself to others. College is different for each person, and you have to take it at your own pace. As soon as you let that judgmental voice enter your head, you’re going to enjoy life a whole lot less. So please, live your own life and enjoy it.

10. Forgetting to call your parents


Photo by Rebecca Block

Back on the soapbox, sorry. In case you didn’t know, your mother birthed you and your dad helped change all those gnarly diapers. Not to guilt you into it or anything, but CALL YOUR PARENTS. ‘Nuff said.

11. Focusing only on the grades


Photo Courtesy of Eduardo Merille via Flickr

Education is important and all that jazz, but once you graduate those letters on your report card won’t mean squat. The late night movies, pizza parties, and hiking trips? Yeah, those will matter. If you think you “don’t have time” for anything but studying, your priorities are waaaaay off.

12. Treating your body like garbage


Photo by Jennifer Karr

College isn’t a free pass to do whatever you want without consequences, I’m sorry to say. Binge drinking, frequent all-nighters, and processed foods will come back to haunt you sooner than later, so do yourself a favor and treat your body kindly.

13. Staying on campus…all the time


Photo Courtesy of emilykneeter via Flickr

After a few years of college, you might think you’ve seen it all, know the town you’re in, yadda yadda. WRONG. If you’re bored, join a club that goes kayaking or hiking or some other random cool activity that gets you away from dorm life. Your body and mind will thank you for it later, and you’ll be able to focus more on school stuff when needed.

14. Making “couch potato” your official job description


Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

A day here and there spent doing nothing but watching Netflix and eating pizza is a necessity in college. Too much of this though is a bad idea. As relaxing as chilling on the couch is, it’s super important that you stay active in college. If you hate the gym, see if there are free workout classes on campus. Zumba is particularly fun (and funny— people watching at its finest).

15. Prioritizing “me time” over friend time


Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

I am so guilty of this. After a long week, it’s easy to think that a weekend of “me time” spent doing homework or watching movies is the way to go. Like with most things on this list, this is my friendly reminder to you that everything should be done in moderation. Find the balance between your solo recharge sessions and hanging out with friends so you get the most from your college years.

16. Clocking in at work whenever possible


Photo by Sean Koetting

We’ve already established that college students aren’t exactly rolling in the cash monies, but that doesn’t mean you have to work constantly. Focusing too much on making money will take away from seeing friends and having new adventures, so don’t overschedule at work — it’s just not worth it.

17. Ignoring your floor mates


Photo by Vedika Luthra

I lived on a floor where most people kept their doors closed during the day, which made it tough to get to know the students I shared my floor with. If you’re nervous about introducing yourself, whip up a batch of no-bake cookies in your room and pass them around. People will be sure to talk to you next time your door is open, promise.

18. Forgetting to thank your RAmujahid zaman

Some of the most hardworking, yet forgotten people on a college campus are the RAs. They also usually live alone, which can be isolating on a floor filled with doubles. So swing by for a chat when you’re in the mood; they’re there to help you enjoy dorm life, after all (and they’ll just appreciate you thinking of them).