empty seats symbolizing the things I regret about my college experience

4 Things I Regret About My College Experience

I would be lying if I told you I had the best college experience. Far from it, actually.  There are way more than the four things I regret about college that you’ll read about below.

College presents you with many opportunities to grow as a person, experience new things, learn about different cultures, find your passion, make a difference in someone’s life, etc.  

Your mental health should be your first priority in college. If you’re not attuned to how you’re doing on the inside (and getting help when needed), you’re going to have a less than stellar college experience – inside and outside the classroom.

Without further ado, here are the top 4 things I regret about my college experience. 

My College Regrets

1. Not getting help with my social anxiety disorder

woman hiding face

Let me preface this by saying I was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder shortly before transferring to a large university, but looking back, I’ve had it my entire life. While this is not an excuse, it helps me rationalize why I had difficulties forming friendships in college.

It doesn’t help that I’m introverted, either. And shy. I had a lot of things going against me.

Why do I regret not getting treated for my social anxiety disorder?  Because as much as social situations make me anxious, and as shy as I may be… I still crave social interaction.  

Yes, it’s exhausting. No, it’s not my favorite thing to do… but it can be fun with the right group. 

Humans are hardwired for connection. I’m definitely not immune to that, and I suspect you aren’t either.

2. Not getting involved in activities

Refer to #1 on this. It goes back to my social anxiety.  But there are students who don’t get involved for other reasons. 

Activities are where friendships form. You can get involved in a club that is related to your major and meet like-minded students that way, or you can join a club that’s tied to one of your passions/hobbies. Obviously, you already have something in common with every person in either of those types of clubs. 

So if you have a hard time initiating conversation or making friends in general, get involved in a major or hobby-related activity. It will be so much easier to bond with the students over a common interest. 

Chances are, you’ll find some life-long friends, too!

3. Not working

My student loan debt was atrocious. Really, it was. It would have been better had I worked during college. 

I did work while I was at community college, but I focused on my studies when I got to Iowa State.  In my last year, I found a part-time job, but it was too little too late. 

Beyond the student loan debt, though, I think it would have made me more productive in general. I was lackadaisical with my time management, so that was a skill I had to really develop after I graduated.  I was one of the lucky students who worked well under pressure. #wouldnotrecommend

4. Not studying abroad

Man, this is a big one for me. It’s something I encourage all of my students to do if they are presented with the opportunity. College is the best time to experience things and see the world. What better way to do it than by studying abroad?

You can live with a host family who will teach you about their country and culture, go to school for the same tuition as you would back home, and have an incredible experience! 

It’s been many years since I graduated from college. I planned to go to Ireland and England with my husband, but we decided to start a family instead. I still hope that one day we will get over there… with our kids to enjoy the experience with us.  But had I been brave enough to go across the pond by myself, I would have already realized that dream. 

Final Thoughts

What’s the one thing in common with all of these? All of the above things I regret about my college experience are things I didn’t do.  There are some things I did that I regret, sure. But the biggest ones – when all was said and done – are the dreams that weren’t pursued. The chances not taken.

I wrote this post to help prevent you from making the same mistakes I did. 

You may not have social anxiety, but maybe you’re depressed. Get help – see your advisor if you don’t know about the resources on your campus. Most services are free or very low cost to students. Some even provide professional financial counseling and couples counseling! 

Get out of your comfort zone/dorm room and get involved – on campus or abroad! 

Go out and do the things you’ll regret not doing.

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