We all have regrets. Some of those regrets occurred during our college years. Actually – most of those regrets happened during our college years. My biggest regrets range from weight gain and relationships, to student loans and knowing when I should have said “no.”
Gaining The “Freshman 15”
Everyone warns you about the “Freshman 15,” but you never think it’s going to happen to you. When you live on your own for the first time, regardless of whether or not it’s in a dorm, your relationship with food changes. You cut back on how often you eat out and the quality of food you eat at home vastly decreases. Before you realize it, you’ve been consuming ramen noodles, potato chips, and canned soda on a daily basis. After my first year of college, I regretted not just my weight gain but the way I had been treating my body. In hindsight, I felt slightly foolish for not preventing myself from being such a well-known statistic and decided it was time to moderate my food intake and somehow become more physically active.
The concept of “counter-culture” is limited to the flower children of the ’60s, or at least, it should be. One of my biggest regrets during my freshman (and sophomore) year of college was embracing the “anti” everything. It seemed to cool to blow off class and go to the beach with my friends. It made me feel like a rebel to sleep in instead of showing up to the group project meeting. And, most of all, it made me feel grown up to decide that I have the ultimate say over what I do and when. The problem was – I was neglecting my academic responsibilities, failing to socialize with larger social groups, and essentially conditioned myself to defy authority and go against the mainstream grain. The truth is, “counter-culture” isn’t all that awesome. You know what is awesome, though? Working hard to prepare yourself for the outside world. Picking up a textbook and realizing that the contents inside of them are, in fact, valuable. You can still be a free spirit while cultivating a strong, responsible work ethic.
Taking Out Student Loans
Most college graduates regret taking out such hefty student loans. It’s important to remember that you do have other options! Looking back, I wish I would have applied for, well, any scholarship at all. Instead, I applied for loan after loan, year after year, and where did it get me? Thousands of dollars in debt, that’s where. On the rare occasion, I qualified for a grant or two, but a little bit of free government money only put a small dent in the interest rates I would owe once I graduated. Applying for a student loan, at times, may have been inevitable. To be 100% frank, college is unjustifiably expensive; but, I should have opened a savings account. I should have placed a small chunk of change on the side once a month to prepare for my debt that will now haunt me for the rest of my life. Trust me, it could have made all the difference in the world… and might have lowered my stress levels.
Thinking A Committed Relationship Was A Good Idea
Don’t get me wrong, serious relationships can be great… when you’re ready for them. As a Bachelor’s student, I wasn’t aware that this was my prime opportunity to live the single life and get comfortable being alone. I’m not saying this statement doesn’t apply to post-grad years, it certainly does. However, there’s a big difference between committing yourself to someone at 20 and committing yourself to someone at 25. As much as I loved my first boyfriend, allowing myself to fall down the rabbit hole of a relationship without achieving a sense of self first was somewhat of a setback. I regret not going on more dates. I regret thinking that it was okay to settle down with one person while being so young; this is half due to my now-abandoned belief of soulmates and half due to the magic of Disney Princess movies. It’s important to know what part of you is just you and what part of you is the relationship you. I hate to break it to you, it’s not all that possible to figure this out when you’re the ripe age of 18-21.
Not Taking A Philosophy Course
If I may be honest for one moment, it’s unlikely that your Bachelor’s degree will have a diamond-cut, direct link to your chosen profession. There are obvious exceptions to those who are pre-med or pre-law and for those who pursue business degrees that follow up with an MBA. The rest of us choose the remaining majors; Psychology, Liberal Arts, Humanities, Communications, etc. While I personally don’t regret my choice of major, I do regret not expanding my elective horizons – most notably, in philosophy. Taking an in intro to philosophy would have helped me establish a unique perspective on the life I didn’t realize I’d be capable of living, nor did I realize (at the time), it would have granted me with the ability to see past the surface of any situation, person, or problem placed in front of me. Do I think a philosophy course would have had a grandiose impact on my life? No, probably not. But, I could think of a few times in my young adulthood that this type of cognitive processing would have come in good use.
Not Studying Abroad
I definitely regret not studying abroad. Since graduating, I was fortunate enough to take advantage of an opportunity to study for my Master’s in another country, but I truly wish I had done it sooner. Once you leave the comfort zone of your home country, you become culturally awakened and begin to see just how much of the world you’ve been missing out on. Studying abroad gives undergraduates the ideal chance to go to another country with the stability of academic structure and the opportunity to make international connections. Besides, there’s also that whole traveling to Europe thing. That should be enough to make you consider applying before it’s too late.
Not Taking A Gap Year
Who thought it was a good idea to tell an 18-year-old that they should know what they want to do with their life by the age of 21 or 22? At the risk of rocking the boat, this is absurd. I deeply regret not taking a gap year after I graduated high school (or sometime in between). I know it sounds corny, but I needed that time to get to know myself. I would have liked to volunteer for a non-profit that I personally cared about. Or, maybe I could have worked and built up a savings account (you know, for those student loans still resting heavily on my shoulders?). The point is, I was rushed to decide how I wanted to spend the rest of my life making money and how I would be capable of doing so. All for what? Money? A gap year would have given me the mental space and emotional preparation we all need before entering the rat race of resumes, jobs, promotions, and living up to our parents’ expectations.