10 Biggest Regrets of College Students
College—arguably the best and worst years of your life. However, there are many things that college graduates wish they could have done differently with their time as undergraduate students. There are billions of different paths to be taken, regardless of your university. Having said that, there are no “right” or “wrong” paths (well, maybe there are a few “wrong” paths), but the question always begs – are you taking the right path? Here are the 10 biggest regrets of college students:
1. Not studying abroad
Regardless of your area of study, studying abroad always looks good. Whether it’s getting some of your gen-eds out of the way or specializing in a foreign language abroad – any kind of international experience, whether professional or academic, is beneficial for your future. Yes, studying abroad is incredibly expensive and may take years of saving up or tedious scholarship applications and painful loans, but it is worth your money and time.
2. Choosing a major that you don’t love
Many college students are being told that there are little no jobs – that they can’t earn good money or live an adequate life if they’re not swimming in money, and so often times they are pressured into majoring in things they may not be passionate about. Truth be told, regardless of your level of intelligence, if you are not doing what you love, it’s going to bite you in the future. That’s not to say that you can’t pursue the career of your dreams without a relevant major, but being able to recognize that you do not love what you are doing early on in the game and having the strength to change it if given the opportunity is not a setback. There is no expiration date on your education. Changing your major, whether it’s as a freshman or as a fifth-year senior is okay. You’re not racing anybody but yourself.
3. Not studying harder
“C’s to degrees” – that’s the phrase. For some, you really don’t need anything higher than a C to get your degree and peace out. But if you have the capability of getting a better grade – why wouldn’t you strive for the highest? A majority of college students do not know exactly what they want out of a career or a lifetime when they come into college. While some students know from the start that they intend to go to law school, medical school, graduate school, and so on – others may not. Coming into college and getting C’s from the very beginning but then realizing you may want to further your education may bite you in the bum. Do yourself and favor and strive for your own personal highest from the beginning. That’s not to say that you should stress yourself out over not getting straight A’s, but don’t regret not trying your personal best and burdening your future.
4. Not utilizing the campus
Regardless of where you go to school, there are countless opportunities and resources on campus: physical & mental health resources, multicultural organizations, academic support, recreational activities, etc. And best of all – most of it is free. Go to the gym and have a few personal training sessions, take a relaxation or meditation class, check out a improve comedy group, go to a concert, join a sports team, get some help for a class that you’re struggling with, talk to professionals about your area of study, build up your resume, apply for part-time and/or full-time jobs, search for on-campus or off-campus internships! There are millions of opportunities inside and outside of your career path and these opportunities can’t be found anywhere else.
5. Not gaining work experience
Many hardworking students do their best to get the best possible grades in school. They get straight A’s in all their coursework, whether it’s within their major or not and carry the 4.0 on their transcript with great pride, rightfully so. However, when it comes to applying for jobs or graduate school programs, they are held back simply because they didn’t have the relevant work experience. Any work experience is beneficial – whether it teaches you how to handle money, communicate professionally with clients, etc. However, how are you supposed to enter your designated field of work without having any clue of what it is like? Even if you do not have time to juggle a job with classes – volunteer! Try to take on an internship, and if you can’t do it simultaneously with classes then spend at least part of your summer volunteering or interning in your area of interest.
6. Staying in
I know a previous “regret” was not studying harder, but studying hard doesn’t always necessarily mean staying in. Live a little. Some of your most exciting years are your youngest years – when you’re in college. Know when enough is enough – let yourself socialize and experience college life, even if it’s just swinging by a party and saying hey or limiting yourself to one fun night a weekend at most. Your academic record is important in college, but coming out of college you won’t remember what grade you got on your chemistry exam or what your professor’s response was to your group project at the semester. You will remember the delirious nights where you and your friends ordered pizza at 3AM and talked about life or watched stupid movies or danced the night away.
7. Not saving more money
College is expensive. Food is expensive. College students blow most of their already needed money for college on food (and alcohol). Do yourself a favor and start saving money while you’re in college. Many college kids aren’t responsible for paying for their own housing during these years (and many are – all the more reason to try and save up as much money as possible). Start preparing on being completely self-reliant outside of college because as soon as you get set up with a career, it’s time for you to take the financial burden off of your parent’s shoulders. That, and you should always have money saved aside for any kind of financial emergency or crisis – car accident, damage from a storm, medical emergency, funds for graduate programs, future children, etc.
8. Romantic regrets
For many, college is where they meet the love of their life. For others, its where they search endlessly for the love of their life. There is no pressure to settle in college! College is the time to learn what you like in a person, or don’t like in person. It’s a time to learn what kind of person you are and who you are compatible with. Having said that, it’s no reason to end something if you already have a good relationship going with somebody – but all in all, go with the flow. There is no shame in being single and no shame in being in a relationship. As long as you are doing what’s best for yourself and are mentally healthy.
9. Not looking for work sooner
The best piece of advice I have gotten as a college student is to start acting like who you want to be as soon as you realize who that is. For instance, if you know for a fact that you want to be a teacher – start acting like a teacher. Start professionally networking (make a LinkedIn) and for goodness sake start acting like an adult! Social media can be a terrifying thing when it comes to college student. Start being cautious about the way you are posting things on social media. Try to avoid an potential red flags that an employer would deem enough reason to not hire you. Start getting involved and thinking about your future (but do not lose sight of the present). Apply for jobs before (yes, before) you graduate. Not all students are able to secure a full-time job right out of college, and so it’s important that you branch out and start researching for your near future before you come to the end of your undergraduate experience.
10. Living in the past
College is a new chapter of your life. When you come into college, you may come in with some high school friends (or especially for out-of-state students: no high school friends). Either way, this is a completely new environment. Meet new people and understand that your first impression with them is going to be a completely new one that no one in your past has ever had before. While certain memories and experiences in high school may have shaped you to be the person that you are, don’t let them hold you back. If anything, let them push you forward. You decide how you shape your future. All of the volunteer work or extracurricular activity you did in high school may have helped you get into college, but is usually irrelevant from that point on. It’s frustrating, but often times college students have to start rebuilding themselves back up. Get involved in things you like all over again or try something new. Join different groups whether they’re academic or just out of sheer curiosity. You may not be able to control how people view you (and often times, that shouldn’t even matter), but you can control your end of your interactions with people and organizations in college.
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