College is a time of personal growth and new experiences, but it can also be a time of overwhelming options and missed opportunities. Here, eight college graduates (both recent and not-so-recent) look back on what they would do differently if given the chance.
Jasmine – Class of 2016
I recently graduated from college, and my biggest regret is not being more involved in my department or campus life. I missed out on so many opportunities to develop emotionally, mentally, and educationally. I also missed out on great networking opportunities. In my field, networking is just as important (if not more important) than having great skill sets.
Looking back now, I realize I skipped those opportunities out of fear of being out of my comfort zone. College is the time for growth, and I regret not giving myself that chance. That being said, the experiences I’ve encountered thus far have shaped me to be who I am today, and I can’t picture myself any other way.
Elise – Class of 2014
I met my boyfriend a week before college started. I didn’t rush a sorority. I was put on academic probation my first semester because I’d rather nurse a hangover with Grey’s Anatomy than go to my classes. But I regret none of those things. (My boyfriend and I are still together, and almost flunking out knocked the good sense into me to keep a 4.0 the rest of my college days.)
The only thing I truly regret during my four years is not trying out for the dance team. Dance was the love of my life from the age of 3, but by the time I was 18, I wanted a break. But if you’re a dancer, you know there’s no such thing as a “break” from dance. And boy did I miss out on the cute outfits, the rush you get from performing, the friendships, the drama …not to mention my “dancer legs” are now just…well, legs.
Katie – Class of 2009
If I could change anything, I wish I would have studied abroad. I’m such a homebody. The thought of being that far away was so intimidating. I probably couldn’t have handled an entire semester, but even just a summer trip would have been great.
As an almost-30-year-old, I’ve only been out of the country once (and even that’s a stretch; a Mexican resort was not exactly a cultural experience). It’s not very easy to pick up and ship out to Europe at this age. I didn’t realize how valuable of an opportunity that was at the time. I also assumed it would be too expensive, and I’ve since learned my scholarship could have covered some of it. Coulda woulda shoulda!
Sherie – Class of 2010
My regret is being too involved on campus. I was so worried about being involved in every organization that my grades suffered the second year. After that it was a lot harder to get my GPA back up, and I lost my scholarship. I eventually got it up by my fourth year, but it could’ve been a lot higher had I not been so focused on “belonging” and more focused on academia.
Terra – Class of 2014
I regret not being more social. I was in a sorority and joined a few clubs, but I definitely could have done more to form more friendships with more people. I focused heavily on my classwork until junior year, which isn’t bad, but I used it as an excuse for not being more social. It kind of left me out of the loop on a lot of things, and limited in the people I was exposed to. That being said, the people I did form friendships with are still very important to me, and I’ve remained close to them.
Christine – Class of 2015
I regret not doing the things that I actually wanted to do because my inner introvert talked me out of it. I spent an embarrassing amount of my free time being straight-up lazy in college (which is easy to do when you’re a full-time student, working 30 hours a week, and staying up half the night to get your homework done). So I would hear about an event (like a book signing by a local author, or a group of fellow creative writing majors reading a sample of their work) and I would say, “Hey, that sounds cool, I should go to that.”
Then when the time came, I would be completely brain-dead, sitting on my couch watching Netflix, and I would say “Ehh, never mind. I’ll just stay home.” Before I knew it, college was over, and so were my chances to attend cool events like that. What I know now is though you feel like you have zero free time in college, you still have a whole hell of a lot more than when you’re in the “real world” working a full-time job . So take advantage of those days when you don’t have class until 10 am or entire afternoons to do whatever you want while you still can.
Melanie – Class of 1996
I regret not taking my first year seriously enough. I would skip classes whenever I wanted because I was an “adult” finally and could do what I wanted. I completely underestimated how hard I would really need to work.
Meleah – Class of 2015
I went to college in my hometown, and that was great, but I wish I’d acted a little more like I was in a new place. I spent a lot of time with the same people I’d known for years, went home to my parents’ house for dinner pretty often, and hung out with the same guy I dated in high school. Although I did make a few great friendships in college, I think I would have made more if I’d spent more time on campus – chilling in the dorm, eating the lousy cafeteria food, and generally pretending that my life was at the University of Central Arkansas instead of running all over town.
What do you regret doing (or not doing) during college?