After four years of college, you sit at graduation and realize just how fast the time went. During this time, a slight sense of anxiety sets in as you begin a new chapter of your life and you realize all the opportunities that were presented to you in college have come to an end. As your college life comes to a close, it is easy to think of the things you could have done, rather than what you did do.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
- Mark Twain
Here are 7 of the biggest regrets from those who went to college. This article isn’t meant for college grads to regret any lost opportunities they had in college, but rather to inform current and future college students of what former college students wish they had done differently.
The 7 Biggest Regrets of Former College Students
1) Wish they had gone to class more
Whether it is boredom, lack of a challenge, scheduling the class too early, or simply having no interest in the subject matter, the excuses for not going to class can pile up. If you realized just how much you are actually paying per class, you’d be more inclined to go and get your money’s worth.
While some classes for your major will be required, you are free to choose from a wide selection of classes to make your class schedule more stimulating. Take classes that sound interesting or select subjects that are totally new to you, maybe you will stumble upon something you had no idea you liked or you even know existed. Taking a variety of classes will open you up to new ideas, new people, new professors, and will help keep your mind fresh rather than overtaxing yourself on a single subject.
2) Wish they had met more people/made more long-lasting friendships
On a large campus it can be hard to feel any sense of community. Many students complain of universities being too big and having too many students. Going to college is about improving your education, but being on a college campus can also be a good opportunity to work on improving your social skills.
Go out of your way to talk to more people. Put yourself into more opportunities to meet people. Get out more, say yes to new opportunities, join, participate, and be active in a club. Joining a club is one of the better ways to meet new people because you immediately have a group of students who share the same interest as you.
Your four years in college will go by quick. This again is why you need to seize every opportunity presented to you and not rush through it.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” - Ferris Bueller
3) Wish they had done study abroad
Once you join the working world, you realize that it becomes difficult to travel for anything more than a week or two at a time. This slight loss of freedom makes those wish they had taken advantage of the freedom they had in their college years by choosing to study abroad. With study abroad you get an opportunity to see another part of the world and advance your studies at the same time.
4) Wish they had gotten to know their professors better
Getting to know your professors is beneficial in both the short term and in the long run. It can lead to better grades, and if you get to know your professor on a personal level, they can even help when it comes to things like job offers and scholarship opportunities. One of the biggest mistakes students make in college is not taking advantage of office hours; these are times in which the professor specifically sets aside time to meet with students. Use it to your advantage.
5) Wish they had selected a more employable major
Some students realize after it’s too late that the job prospects of their degree are dismal. (Insert Liberal Arts degree joke here.) It’s important to thoroughly research your intended major and look into the marketability of your intended degree upon the time you expect to graduate. This research may even involve things like doing an early internship or job shadowing to make sure it’s actually something you want to do.
6) Wish they had done an internship or worked harder to get a better one
Interning is one of the easiest ways to get your foot in the door at a desired company. College grads have come to the realization that many employers are looking for work experience on top of educational experience. Doing a strong internship is one of the better ways to separate yourself from other classmates who will be graduating and competing for the same jobs as you.
7) Took out too much in student loans
Many students don’t realize how much deep water they are actually in until it comes time for the first student loan payment being due. Stress levels go through the roof when you’re up to $100k in debt and have no job lined up.
Monthly Payment Example:
A student with $50k in Stafford loans on the current interest rate of 6.8% can expect to make payments of nearly $600/mo. on a standard 10-year repayment plan. Figure your monthly payments using a student loan payment calculator.
So it’s important that you apply for as many scholarships as possible and only borrow what you need. Shop around and use a student loan comparison tool when additional loan funds are needed.