Top Common College Regrets
Sometimes we wish we could go back in time and change something in the past. Unfortunately, it’s impossible. But what if you could know the main pitfalls of studying in college? What if you could know how to avoid making those mistakes? We have asked former students to let us know what their main college disappointments were and these were the six most common regrets:
1. Not Making Enough Friends
“I am rather a shy person. When studying at college, I thought that a couple of people whom I had been friends with since high school would stay on my side through the whole my life. I didn’t think that I should befriend new people in college and I didn’t feel like doing it. However, the time has changed my opinion as my school friends are not my friends anymore. Now I wish I made more friends when I had the chance. There were so many interesting, diverse people, passionate about their hobbies, who I could invite into my life to enjoy this friendship for a long time. But I missed my chance.”
Alice, College for Creative Studies, Detroit
Maintaining friendships in college might seem hard. However, making friends after graduation is not any easier. Actually, it is much harder.
Why is college a perfect time to find friends for life?
- College allows you to study and live among lots of other people of your age.
- It’s easier for you to find people with whom you share the same interests and hobbies.
- You can meet new people almost every day on campus or at parties, college events, and group studies.
- It’s easier to start a conversation as you already have something in common – your learning institution.
Being too busy to hang together or struggling to find people with similar interests doesn’t make it any easier for people to build new friendships after graduation. So, it’s not uncommon for adults of 25-35 years to feel lonely and socially awkward, mainly because they haven’t made friends through their study years.
2. Choosing the Wrong Major
“I thought that I had a lot of time to think about what I want to do with my life. I thought that it wasn’t that hard to pick a major. What do you need to do? Just think what you like doing, and that’s it. This is what I thought. Now I know that picking a major without actually investigating into the field, researching about your future job – responsibilities, duties and average salaries, makes you regret your decisions.”
Craig, Cornell College, Mount Vernon
Of course, picking the wrong major is not the type of problem that can’t be fixed, but it might cause a lot of difficulties with employment. So, think twice before making a decision.
3. Being Too Stressed out About Grades
“Oh, my God! Grades, deadlines, assignments! That’s all that I was thinking about. I pulled all-nighters, drank too much coffee, and didn’t pay any attention to my social life. As a result, I had no friends or relationships, and all my college memories are tied to digging the Internet in an attempt to find another fact for my research paper. Don’t do that, guys. Your GPA won’t be engraved on your tombstone.”
Becka, St. Olaf College, Northfield
Grades are important. But they don’t define you. Placing them into the center of your life might cause you to give up your social life, friends, hobbies, and instead spend all your time studying. Remember the rule of “80/20” (a “Pareto principle” that states that generally 80% of results come from the 20% of effort) – don’t study longer, study more productively instead. And don’t let grades rule your life.
4. Not Exploring Your Opportunities
“A few years after graduation, I’m jealous of my dorm roommate who was always busy with something. He was involved in different projects and used every chance to get the most out of our college. For example, he traveled abroad to study, worked on campus, was taking internships, and made so many friends in different clubs. Now I understand that he just used opportunities that I was too lazy to ask about in spite of them being right in front of me.”
Mike, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore
Your college might offer you much more than you know. Just conducting a little research on what facilities you have access to or what events you can attend will make a big difference. It’s not uncommon for students to pay for a gym while there is an opportunity to use one for free on campus. They just didn’t know because they didn’t ask. Don’t miss your opportunities and explore more.
5. Not Being Single
“The long-distance relationship that I had in college makes me cringe now. I thought that all the inconveniences that I experienced were worth it. Guess what? They were not.”
Sophie, Earlham College, Richmond
Some former students regret being in a relationship through their college years, while others regret being single. There might be no “right” or “wrong” until what you do makes you happy. If your college relationship makes you enjoy yourself and your significant other, chances are high that you will have great memories about these years later on.
However, if you feel unhappy, make sure to do what you can to fix the problem. Don’t waste your time on people who don’t want to spend their time with you.
6. Not Paying Enough Attention to Finances
“My student loan was something that seemed abstract to me. I wasn’t educated on how to manage my finances and wasn’t smart enough to try to learn more about it myself. As a result my biggest regret is that I missed a lot of time and opportunities to pay my loan faster.”
Cecil, Reed College, Portland
Managing finances in college and after graduation is something many people face with fear. Not all of them understand what they need to do or how the banking system works. That’s why when it comes to student loans, a lot of former students regret not knowing enough to act wiser with their financing. For example, not many students know that they can refinance their loans, split their payments, or sign-up for auto-pay to avoid missed payment deadlines.
Picking the wrong learning institution or wrong major might be a big regret, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t change everything for the better. We hope these common college regrets will help you avoid making mistakes or at least will let you know that most people have at least one thing to regret. Let us know what your college regrets are, if any. Good luck!