08/27/2012 12:50 pm ET Updated Oct 27, 2012

The Costliest Mistakes of College Students

For every successful college graduate, there have been a number of students who have dropped out of school. Some students drop out because of finances and others drop out because they are not enjoying their college experience. The following tips will provide advice about how to make school more affordable and how to get freshmen actively involved on campus.

Picking an overly expensive college

Students will sometimes become more focused on the name of the college that will be on their degree instead of the degree itself. What they need to remember is that unless they are going into a highly specialized field such as law or medicine, the name of the school is not nearly as important as they might think. Greater known institutions also come with a much heavier price tag, and can put students into debt before they finish their first year of college.

Students reserve the right to be select, but they shouldn't be too picky. They need to find a school that is not only going to offer the degree they are looking for, but that comes with a reasonable price tag. They should also keep in mind that nearly every degree is going to require core classes like English and math. To save more money, they should consider starting at a community college, taking community college classes over the summer, staying in state, or taking the CLEP (College Level Examination Preparation) to earn college credit.

Not taking advantage of grants and scholarships

The price of college is rising every year, making it a fear for students that they are either not going to be able to pay for it, or go into extreme debt to do so. Too often grants and scholarships are either completely ignored or forgotten, which is a shame because either of these options can be incredibly helpful when it comes to bearing the load of paying for a degree.

Grants are available to many families that find themselves under financial burden; they are government-issued funds specifically for the purpose of paying for college. Grants don't have to be paid back; they are essentially "free money" for those that qualify. Scholarships are rewards offered to a select group or individual, usually based on academic merit or need. Like grants, they don't need to be paid back, and there are literally hundreds of different scholarships, so it's likely that a student is eligible for at least one or two. The key to remember is that if you are an exceptional student, colleges can help you find money to get your college education.

Borrowing too much money and the wrong loans

Students that did decide to get a loan to pay for school often end up borrowing an excessively large amount of money in order to not only pay for tuition, but for supplies, meals, room and board and any of the other things on the long list of student needs. Then they end up paying an even more excessive amount back to the lender once interest has been accrued over time. Depending on the type of loan, the interest rate, and how long it takes to pay back the full amount, loans to pay for college can almost double what the college actually cost in the first place.

Also, please note that students should try their best to stay away from unsubsidized loans. Unsubsidized loans accrue interest while the borrower is in school, while subsidized loans accumulate interest after the borrower graduates or leaves school.

Why first years drop out of college and what you can do about it

Dropping out of college can be attributed to many reasons including but not limited to: finances, homesickness, academic struggles, and even health problems. However, for many students it's because they are not enjoying the college experience. As a first-year student, it's important to get out and meet people, have new experiences, and get out of your comfort zone! Don't stay in the room all day expecting things to come to you. Here are three tips that will help you get involved immediately.

Ask around

If you're new on campus, you probably won't know about any student organizations unless you're from the area. Most colleges hold some sort of activities fair during the fall semester to introduce new students to the different groups on campus. If you want to join a club, then you'll definitely want to attend the event. Most campus organizations will be there with information about what they do and how to get involved. Club members and advisors will also be there, so you can see what kind of people are involved in each organization and determine if you'd be compatible.

Attend several meetings

General meetings of student organizations tend to be open to anyone. If you're thinking about joining a specific group, find out when they hold meetings and drop in. This will give you an idea of what kind of activities, group discussions, community services efforts the club has to offer. Be sure to sign up for any electronic newsletter or email updates about the events that are taking place during the school year.

Tawan Perry is the author of the award winning college guide, College Sense: What College and High School Advisors Don't Tell You about College. He has been a featured guest on countless radio and TV stations including: ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, and PBS.