The 3 Most Common College Regrets & How to Deal with Them

Didn’t have the best four years ever? That’s ok.

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college essence
The Essence of College | Credit: Flickr

How many times have you heard that college is the best four years of your life? A lot, most likely. From grandparents to parents to peers, it seems like everybody had a blast except for you. No worries. You’re not alone.

Whether you have one or all three common college regrets, here are some future plans to help you move upward and onward from college.

1. Academic Regrets

academic struggle
Ah. The face of academic struggle | Photo Credit: Flickr

Perhaps you regret not studying harder. Maybe you regret not getting a good enough GPA to hit the cutoff point for recruitment or grad school. Maybe you regret not mastering and truly learning the material. Maybe you feel like your poor grades are a sign that you haven’t successfully conquered time management and you’re afraid that will bleed over into your professional career. Or maybe you did have good grades but you procrastinated through the Dark Playground to get them so they don’t feel like real successes. 

Does this sound like you? Here are some tips to help remedy the situation:

Future Mindset + Action

  • Even premed students get poor grades but that hasn’t held them back from getting into med school. 
  • Take post-bacc classes if you would like to boost your grade.
  • Remove your GPA from your resume. Many companies don’t care about it – if they do, they’ll ask for it.
  • Look for amazing, smaller companies that won’t have a GPA cutoff point (bigger companies are also starting to do away with the requirement).
  • Look for volunteering opportunities – even unorthodox ones. Try offering companies your skills and services. It’ll give you brownie points if you can prove your initiative.
  • Take a No Procrastination Challenge.
  • Set up and start regularly using a schedule.
  • Create a chain of how many days you turn in your work on time.
  • Take a Massive Open Online Course for fun and really focus on learning the material for learning’s sake and not for your grades. Bonus point if you get a certification. Add it to your resume.
  • Read a nonfiction book that you’ve been meaning to read.

2. Social Regret

ice cream social
Ice cream socials are the best socials | Photo Credit: Flickr

Not everybody is a social butterfly in college. Certain circumstances can aggravate feelings of loneliness, like being a transfer or commuter. Whether you didn’t join any extracurricular clubs or just didn’t make any close friends, college isn’t the only place to make friends and be social. 

Relationships also drift apart post-college and people move. While college can be a great place to make lifelong friends, it isn’t the end-all be-all. 

Future Mindset + Action

  • Check out Meetup events.
  • Stake out a few cool local shops/venues and check out their bulletin boards. Join their social media pages and maybe organize a hang out before/after the event.
  • Some companies have “work” clubs and intramural leagues. Ask around if your company has anything like that.
  • Read this handy dandy College Fashion guide about keeping, making, and leaving friends after graduation.
  • “Maybe you’re in a new city with unknown conveyer belts; maybe your old friends are heinous jackanapes you have no idea why you just hung out with for the last decade. Either way, you have to think of making friends at this age in this world with this head as a different game.” – Tracy Moore
  • Take classes in your city and take advantage of Groupon and discount sites.
  • Try out things you wouldn’t think you’d enjoy or that you wrote off as “basic” (like painting and wine classes).
  • Hold dinner parties and casual get-togethers.
  • “When you have more self-knowledge, the quality of the friendships you make (or renew) later in life can be richer than the happenstance ones from your school years, even if these friendships do take more effort to cultivate. And like the best relationships, they can also continue deepening over time.” – Melanie Pinola
  • Focus on trying to enjoy the activity and the people you’re around. Every day is a fresh start.

3. Career Regret

career scrabble
A terrifying Scrabble puzzle | Photo Credit: Flickr

This is a huge regret for graduates that normally ends with having no idea what you’re doing. You didn’t plan for your future career well enough, you changed your mind too late, you’re starting to have doubts, you feel like you didn’t do enough or you’re not capable, you can’t find a job, etc.

First, listen to me: It’s going to be alright. You’re smart and there are so many available resources out there to help you out. Here are some more tips:

Future Mindset + Action

  • The Blissful Mind has a terrific guide on how to get a job after graduation.
  • If you’re not digging traditional jobs, perhaps think about going down the entrepreneurial path.
  • Google “school name college major job title LinkedIn.” Connect with alumni with your desired job path and ask to set up an informational interview.
  • Start looking at industry blogs and news sites for the sector you want to break into.
  • If you’re not sure what you want to do, look at influencers. There are people in every industry on social media sharing their unique jobs.
  • Look at companies. Sometimes working for a wonderful company is better than having a specific job title.  
  • There are so many career quizzes out there: MBTI, Holland quiz, MyNextMove, etc. Give them a whirl.
  • If you don’t feel like you can do the job you want/have, read this piece on Imposter Syndrome.
  • A cliche quote if you feel like you ran out of time to pursue a passion: “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” – Earl Nightingale
  • Feel like you don’t have a passion/calling? Or you’re frustrated searching for it? That’s okay. Here’s a TED talk to help.   

No Regrets

positivity jar
Photo Credit: Flickr

Positivity isn’t about being happy all the time, despite popular myth. It’s about looking at your regrets and learning from them. Taking those lessons and creating a success spiral. 

Don’t think about your regrets as “should have dones.” Hindsight is 20/20. It’s easy to connect the dots looking back. Every past regret holds something that you value now. Blaming your past self for not valuing something at the time is a fruitless endeavor. Now you know exactly what you value. That is great. There’s a certain confidence that comes with that knowledge. You know the “what” now, so the “how” can be flexible. 

“Challenge yourself to do new things and do your best to accomplish them. This will help keep your confidence up. Don’t surround yourself in a negative environment with negative people. And your confidence will become more solid. I can tell you from my experience that confidence can sometimes quickly disappear. Especially in the face of a stagnant life or constant failure.” – Anonymous Reddit User

What do you think?

Do you regret anything from college? Is it one of the three regrets? Post-grads, what would you like to add to the future mindset + action lists or tell current students?

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