The time one spends in college is undeniably one of the best times of their life. It’s a time of self-discovery, making new friends, meeting new people, and visiting all kinds of places.
On the other hand, it’s also a period of trying to work things out through trial and error. You make choices that are not always the right ones. You make mistakes. You fall and get up. Above all, you learn.
My time in college is one that I will always cherish. But, as a young college student, I’ve had my fair share of mistakes too. Here are five things I wish I had handled differently.
1. I Would Have Studied More
I know this is probably not the first thing one wants to hear — or in our case, read — as a piece of advice. But the truth is, studying is much more important than you think.
My studying for college is one of the things I wish I would have done differently. I wasn’t studying for endless hours, but I didn’t leave everything for the last minute. My grades weren’t bad, but they also weren’t excellent. They were just…good. I was just a good student.
I was perfectly fine with being “just good” at the time. In retrospect, my grades weren’t enough to grant me a scholarship for a Master’s Degree. They weren’t enough to be considered a good candidate for an internship.
Yes, you’re not your grades. Everyone knows that. You might get the lowest grades and still be the smartest person in your class. And your excellent grades will do nothing to prepare you for the real-life out there. That’s also true.
But, they could make some things easier. They could open the door to future opportunities. They could earn you the respect of your professors — and who knows in what ways the latter could help you in life?
So, make sure you focus on your studies more. Try to make a bit of an extra effort. You will thank yourself later.
2. I Would Have Spent More Time Learning New Things
One thing I really regret from my time in college is that I didn’t spend enough time learning new things and acquiring new skills. The truth is, I was lazy. I wanted to enjoy my free time for as long as I could.
I always thought that I was going to spend all my time after college working anyway. So why not spend it meaninglessly for a bit? You know, going out, meeting people, or watching Netflix? Yeah. That was a stupid way of thinking.
You see, the world keeps evolving. Every day, as we speak, and you need to evolve with it. It’s also a very competitive world. Your knowledge and skills are your weapons; the more you have, the more powerful you will be.
And what better time to start learning something new than in your college years? That’s when most of us have plenty of free time. Of course, you can make time at any age, under any circumstances. But why not take advantage of your time while you have it?
3. I Would Have Taken the Future More Seriously
Ah, the future. Who doesn’t think about it? Well, I didn’t when I was in college. I had a “go with the flow” kind of attitude. Thinking about the future and making plans stressed me enormously, so I preferred not to think about it at all.
This turned out to be a huge mistake as, after my graduation, I found myself facing a dead end. Actually, the time after my college graduation was one of the most challenging and complicated times of my life.
I was always anxious and depressed. I kept thinking I had spent five years of my life for nothing. I had no idea what I was supposed to do with my future. I didn’t know where and how to start.
Overall, it was an emotionally stressful time. And the reason for that was me not caring enough about my future while I was a student. I wasn’t taking it seriously. I didn’t care to think about what I like, what I didn’t, and what career direction I could head towards.
The takeaway is that your future is too important. You can’t just let things be and expect them to work out magically. You need to work things out, make plans, and be one step ahead. It’s okay if your plans don’t always work out — what matters is that you take responsibility for your life. As Les Brown once said:
“Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.”
4. I Would Have Searched for a Job Earlier
I got my first work after my third year in college. It was a summer job in a summer camp for kids. I ended up realizing that I love working with kids and worked there for another three summers in a row.
This is something that I’m actually proud of. Most of my classmates didn’t get a job until they were in their last year in college, and others until after they graduated. The reason being, we all wanted to focus on our studies, finish them in time, and not let other activities distract us.
That’s why I only worked in summers and not during the year. Now that I think about it, I would have searched for a job earlier, and I would have also tried to work part-time during the year.
Why? Well, the truth is, there are a lot of things a job can teach you. Having to wake up every day at a specific time, having a boss, and following orders, teaches you patience, discipline, and responsibility. You become more mature and of course, more prepared for life after college.
And let’s not forget work experience. Trust me; any work experience might come in handy in your job hunt — when you’ll try to land a serious, full-time job. The earlier you start acquiring experience for your resume, the better.
5. I Would Have Chosen My Friends More Wisely
Friends will come and go in your life. That’s a fact. And, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly what makes a good friend. It’s different for everyone. When it comes to friends from college, you can either form lifelong friendships or vain, short-lived ones.
My current social circle doesn’t include any of my friends in college. That’s due to many reasons. People change. People move to other cities. Sometimes, you realize that the connection you had with a person is simply lost. But the main reason I think is that I didn’t choose my friends wisely.
The people you meet at the beginning of college will probably be the ones you spend most of your time with for the next four or five years. Make sure you’re a good match, that they bring out the best in you, and that they’re people you can see still being friends with after a decade or so.